Department of Population Health Sciences

Biostatistics and Data Science***Georgia Prevention Institute***Epidemiology  
Department Chair: Varghese George, PhD
Vice Chair: Gregory Harshfield, PhD

Popeye the Sailor may have been right about this one!

Click on picture to see the full news article on how eating leafy greens may improve the cardiovascular system in children. 

New Publications


Dr. Mathew Tucker is a post-doc on the LIVEP research team. He is the first author on two new publications. Check out his work below. 
Blood flow regulation and oxidative stress during submaximal cycling exercise in patients with cystic fibrosis.

Matthew A. Tucker; Breana Berry; Nichole Seigler; Gareth W. Davison; John C. Quindry; Dabney Eidson; Kathleen T. McKie; & Ryan Harris
Background: The impact of blood flow regulation and oxidative stress during exercise in cystic fibrosis (CF) has yet to be investigated. Conclusion: These data suggest that patients with mild CF exhibit impaired blood flow regulation and an exaggerated oxidative stress response to submaximal exercise.
See Full Manuscript
Spot Sample Urine Specific Gravity Does Not Accurately Represent Small Decreases in Plasma Volume in Resting Healthy Males.

Matthew A. Tucker; Cory L. Butts; Alf Z. Satterfield; Ashley Six; Evan C. Johnson; & Matthew S. Ganio

Background: Urine specific gravity is often used to assess hydration status, particularly around athletic competition, but it is unknown whether high urine specific gravity is indicative of plasma volume (PV) reduction (i.e., hypohydration). We tested the hypothesis that if high urine specific gravity is reflective of reduced PV, subsequent fluid ingestion would increase PV. Conclusions: Despite a high preintervention urine specific gravity and subsequent decrease after 24-hour fluid intake, measures of PV and BV were not indicative of this seemingly improved hydration status. This suggests that a highly concentrated spot sample urine specific gravity and subsequent changes are not accurately representative of PV or BV. 

See Full Manuscript

A whole brain volumetric approach in overweight/obese children: Examining the association with different physical fitness components and academic performance.
The Active Brains project.

Esteban-Cornejo, I; Cadenas-Sanchez, C; Contreras-Rodriguez, O; Verdejo-Roman, J; Mora-Gonzalez, J; Migueles, JH; Henriksson, P; Davis, CL; Verdejo-Garcia, A; Catena, A; Ortega, FB.

Objective: Obesity, as compared to normal weight, is associated with detectable structural differences in the brain. To the best of our knowledge, no previous study has examined the association of physical fitness with gray matter volume in overweight/obese children using whole brain analyses. Thus, the aim of this study was to examine the association between the key components of physical fitness (i.e. cardiorespiratory fitness, speed-agility and muscular fitness) and brain structural volume, and to assess whether fitness-related changes in brain volumes are related to academic performance in overweight/obese children. Conclusion: These findings suggest that increases in cardiorespiratory fitness and speed-agility may positively influence the development of distinctive brain regions and academic indicators, and thus counteract the harmful effect of overweight and obesity on brain structure during childhood.
See Full Manuscript

A novel immunohistochemical score to predict early mortality in acute myeloid leukemia patients based on indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase expression.

Mangaonkar, A; Mondal, A; Fulzule, S; Pundkar, C; Park, EJ; Jillela, A; Kota, V; Xu, H; Savage, NM; Shi, H; Munn, D. Kolhe, R.

Background: Indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase-1 (IDO-1) is an enzyme in the kynurenine pathway which augments tumor-induced immune tolerance. Previous studies in childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have shown a negative correlation of IDO-1 mRNA expression with outcomes. The aim of our study was to develop a practical and objective immunohistochemical technique to quantify IDO-1 expression on diagnostic bone marrow biopsies of AML patients in order to facilitate its use in routine clinical practice. Conclusion: In conclusion, ‘composite IDO-1 score’ is a prognostic tool that can help identify a certain subset of AML patients with ‘early mortality’. This unique subset of patients can potentially benefit from specific IDO-1 inhibitor therapy, currently in clinical trials.
See full Manuscript


Addressing Weight and Weight-related Issues Using Mindfulness-Based
Services in Multi-Ethnic Contexts.

Jean L. Kristeller; Ruth Wolever; Vernon Barnes; Elissa Epel; Cassandra Vieten; & Barbara Laraia 

Will be presented at the Society of Behavior Medicine in April

Empirical support is rapidly growing for mindfulness-based interventions (MBI), yet the question remains whether such services are appropriate and acceptable to populations of minorities and lower SES. This is of particular concern with weight-related medical issues, including type II diabetes and cardiovascular problems, given the higher prevalence in these groups.  This paper provides an overview of MBIs for weight regulation and reviews evidence from randomized clinical trials (RCTs) enrolling individuals with varied racial and ethnic backgrounds.

See full Abstract


Physical activity and obesity through the lifespan: Current evidence and best practices.

Davis CL,* Mudd L, AuYoung M, Sheinfeld Gorin S.

Symposium to be presented at Obesity Week, annual scientific meeting of The Obesity Society, National Harbor MD, Nov. 1, 2017. Dr. Davis planned this session as a Level 2 Partnership with the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM). Dr. Davis serves as SBM Liaison to The Obesity Society.

Physical activity in childhood obesity, and translation to school policy.

Davis CL.

First of 4 talks on topics including pregnancy and postpartum, implementation in primary care, and physical activity prescription in low-income clinics

Oral Presentation 

Reducing lung cancer mortality in disparate populations through Cancer – Community Awareness Access Research and Education (C-CARE).

Williams, LB; Joshua, TV; Looney, S; McCall, A; & Tingen, MS.  

Presentation will be held at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) at 18th World Conference on Lung Cancer in October 2017 in Yokohama, Japan. 

Invited Speaker

Dr. Hongyan Xu 

Dr. Xu was an invited speaker at the Statistical Genetics in Cardiovascular Medicine Meeting, his presentation was titled: ChiP-Seq and RNA-seq Data Analysis, and took place at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, September 22, 2017.


Dr. Ryan Harris will chair the Exercise Workshop at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference in Indianapolis, in November 1st – 4th.

Awards and Special Honors 

Dr. Anas Raed, on the American Board of Internal Medicine research residency track, has been awarded “The First Place of the Resident Poster Competition” at the American College of Physicians (ACP) Georgia Chapter Annual Meeting, Savannah, September 29-October 1, 2017.
Poster was titled "Dose-responses of vitamin D3 supplementation on arterial stiffness in overweight African Americans with vitamin D deficiency: a placebo controlled randomized trial”

Meet Amy Szoka!

Amy graduated in 2014 from Georgia Southern University with her Bachelors in Child & Family Development. After college, she took an internship position working in a alcohol and drug prevention program in Columbia County. Amy grew up in a small town on the outskirts of Savannah and planned to move back home after her internship. Well, here she is 4 years later, making Augusta her home. Amy was hired on as staff at the same place she did her internship and worked there for 3 and a half years. During that time she completed over 300 hours of prevention training and became a Certified Prevention Specialist for the state of Georgia. Two years ago she met the love of her life and got married in March of this year. Amy looks forward to this new stage in her life, both personally and professionally as a new employee of Augusta University.

Amy will be working with Dr. Tingen, and will be coordinating the new opioid misuse and abuse contract from the state of Georgia. Welcome Amy to the department of Population Health Sciences! 

Special Presentation

Martha Tingen, PhD, RN, FAAN,  gave a presentation during Pediatric Grand Rounds, her speech was titled "Harm of Tobacco Use and Smoke Exposure in Children: New Trends and Strategies to Improve Health Outcomes". Thank you Dr. Tingen for your continued efforts on this important topic.  

The Flu Shot Kickoff started on October 6th!!!  This is a free service that AU provides for their employees.  Please click on the link below and you will see a schedule of the many different locations and times where you may go in order to get your vaccination.  You also may visit AU's clinic which is at 1515 Pope Avenue as a "walk-in".

Events Coming up!

October 31st 
AU Day Care will be Trick or Treating through the
GPI division of Population Health Sciences.

Find us online

James Halbert, PhD
 Kim Norland
Eftihia Kountakis, BS

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