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Emory BIRCWH program selects scholars for first cycle of training

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Emory University's Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) program has selected Erin Ferranti, PhD, RN; Vasiliki (Vas) Michopoulos, PhD; and Sandra Safo, PhD for the first cycle of the Emory BIRCWH scholars program. The BIRCWH program is a highly selective career-development program that connects junior faculty to senior faculty with shared research interests in women's health and sex differences research.

Recently, Emory was selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) to lead the career development program that will train eight scholars over a five-year cycle. During the first cycle, BIRCWH selected one scholar from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University School of Medicine and the Rollins School of Public Health.

"We are excited to begin the first cycle of the program, and explore the diverse areas of research that these scholars are conducting," says Claire E. Sterk, PhD, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and principal investigator of the program. "Our strong mentoring component is a key element in achieving our goal to conduct rigorous and diverse research."

Erin Ferranti is an assistant professor of nursing at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Her area of focus is identifying dietary strategies to mitigate cardiometabolic risk burden in women of childbearing age who have had cardiometabolic complications during pregnancy. Her BIRCWH K12 proposal is, "Microbiome, Diet and Persistence of Cardiometabolic Dysregulation in African American Postpartum Women."

Vasiliki Michopoulos is an instructor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Emory University and a research associate at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Her BIRCWH K12 proposal is, "The Effects of HIV on Psychophysiological Hyperarousal in Traumatized Women." The overall goal of Dr. Michopoulos' proposal is to characterize the extent to which HIV exacerbates psychophysiological processes disrupted in traumatized individuals with PTSD.

Sandra Safo is a biostatistician at the Rollins School of Public Health. Her long-term goal is to develop and apply advanced statistical methods and computational tools for big biomedical data to advance clinical translational research and precision medicine in women's health. Her BIRCWH K12 proposal is, "Advancing Methods for Integrative Analysis of Big Data: Assessing Genomic and Metabolic Influences on Subclinical CVD in HIV-infected women."

The BIRCH program has strategically assembled faculty mentors with expertise in broad areas of communicable disease. Research training in communicable disease will include social determinants of disease outcomes, economic determinants of disease burden, barriers to access and impediment to engagement in care, maternal health and child outcomes, global health, health disparities, and community-based interventions.

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