Department of Population Health Sciences

Biostatistics and Data Science--Georgia Prevention Institute-- Epidemiology  
Department Chair: Varghese George, Ph.D. 
Vice Chair: Gregory Harshfield, Ph.D.

Celebrating a New Chapter

A new Department of Population Health Sciences has been established at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University to strengthen the public medical school’s impact on the health of Georgia.
Learn More

Congratulations to Graduating Biostatistics Ph.D. Students

Dr. Jaeeun Lee
Dissertation Adviser is Dr. Jie Chen

Dr. Lee successfully defended her dissertation entitled “A Modified Information Criterion in the 1d Fused Lasso for DNA Copy Number Variant Detection using Next Generation Sequencing Data“ on July 14, 2017. 
She was awarded “Ph.D with Distinction” by her committee and the Graduate School.  In her dissertation, she developed a method to detect regions of DNA Copy Number Variant and applied the method to the next generation of sequencing data.

Dr. Jeannie Daniel
Dissertation Adviser is Dr. Jie Chen

Dr. Daniel successfully defended her dissertation entitled “A Modified Bump Hunting Approach With Correlation-Adjusted Kernel Weight For Detecting Differentially Methylated Regions On The 450k Array" on July 20, 2017. 
In her dissertation, she developed a method to detect differentially methylated regions for microarray data and applied the method to Autism data.

Dr. Taejin Lee

Dissertation Adviser is Dr. Arni S.R. Srinivasa Rao

Dr. Lee successfully defended his dissertation entitled "Mathematical and Stochastic Modeling of HIV Immunology and Epidemiology." 
In his dissertation he studied the effect of PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) using a Markov chain model. His finding show that the gene-therapeutic approach to introduce eCD4-Ig in a host could eliminate the HIV virus within the body given above threshold value, and observed theoretically that PrEP is effectively protecting couples in long relationships. Dr. Lee proved several stability theorems for the differential equations models and proved theorems related to classification of states in the constructed Markov Chain.

New Publications

Tobacco Use and Smoke Exposure in Children: New Trends, Harm, and Strategies to Improve Health Outcomes.

Luv D. Makadia & P. Jervey Roper & Jeannette O. Andrews & Martha S. Tingen

Objective: Every day in the USA, approximately 4000 adolescents begin smoking and the adolescent brain is particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction. We present current pediatric trends on tobacco use and exposures, various new products used by adolescents, the adverse biological and behavioral effects of tobacco use and exposures, and tobacco control strategies to eliminate tobacco-related illnesses and deaths in the pediatric population. Summary: There is no “safe or risk-free” level of tobacco use or exposure. Tobacco use and exposure in childhood and adolescence must be decreased using evidenced-based strategies to improve child health. 
See Full Manuscript
Insulin resistance and the IGF-1–cortical bone relationship in children ages 9-13 years.

Kindler JM, Pollock NK, Laing EM, Oshri A, Jenkins NT, Isales CA, Hamrick MW, Ding K, Hausman DB, McCabe GP, Martin B, Hill-Gallant KM, Warden SJ, Weaver CM, Peacock M, & Lewis RD. 

Background: IGF-I is a pivotal hormone in pediatric musculoskeletal development. Although recent data suggest that the role of IGF-I in total body lean mass and total body bone mass accrual may be compromised in children with insulin resistance, cortical bone geometric outcomes have not been studied in this context. Therefore, we explored the influence of insulin resistance on the relationship between IGF-I and cortical bone in children. A secondary aim was to examine the influence of insulin resistance on the lean mass-dependent relationship between IGF-I and cortical bone. Conclusion: These data implicate insulin resistance as a potential suppressor of IGF-I-dependent cortical bone development, though prospective studies are needed.
See Full Manuscript
Zinc supplementation does not alter indicators of insulin secretion and sensitivity in black and white female adolescents.

Lobene AJ, Kindler JM, Jenkins NT, Pollock NK, Laing EM, Grider A, & Lewis RD.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the influence of zinc supplementation on insulin outcomes in black and white girls in the early stages of adolescence. A secondary objective was to determine relations between baseline zinc concentrations and insulin outcomes. Conclusion: Four weeks of zinc supplementation had no effect on insulin outcomes in healthy black and white early-adolescent girls, although C-peptide and HOMA2-IR tended to increase in black girls who received placebo. Additional trials that are appropriately powered should further explore the effect of zinc on markers of diabetes risk, and whether race affects this relation. 
See Full Manuscript
Obese versus normal-weight late-adolescent females have inferior trabecular bone microarchitecture: a pilot case-control study.

Kindler JM, Pollock NK, Ross HL, Modlesky CM, Harshvardhan S, Laing EM, & Lewis RD. 

Background: Though still a topic of debate, the position that skeletal health is compromised with obesity has received support in the pediatric and adult literature. The limited data relating specifically to trabecular bone microarchitecture have been relatively inconsistent. The aim of this pilot cross-sectional case-control study was to compare trabecular bone microarchitecture between obese (OB) and normal-weight (NW) late-adolescent females. A secondary aim was to compare diaphyseal cortical bone outcomes between these two groups. Conclusion: These trabecular and cortical bone deficits might contribute to the increased fracture risk in obese youth.
See Full Manuscript
Whole-body vibration mimics the metabolic effects of exercise in male leptin receptor deficient mice.

TMcGee-Lawrence ME, Wenger KH, Misra S, Davis CL, Pollock NK, Elsalanty M, Ding K, Isales CM, Hamrick MW, Wosiski-Kuhn M, Arounleut P, Mattson MP, Cutlar RG, Yu JC, & Stranahan AM.

Background: Whole-body vibration (WBV) has gained attention as a potential exercise mimetic, but direct comparisons with the metabolic effects of exercise are scarce. To determine whether WBV recapitulates the metabolic and osteogenic effects of physical activity, we exposed male wild-type (WT) and leptin receptor–deficient (db/db) mice to daily treadmill exercise (TE) or WBV for 3 months. Conclusion: In the context of increased serum osteocalcin, the modest effects of TE and WBV on bone geometry, mineralization, and biomechanics may reflect subtle increases in osteoblast activity in multiple areas of the skeleton. Taken together, these observations indicate that WBV recapitulates the effects of exercise on metabolism in type 2 diabetes.
See Full Manuscript


  Dr. Chen was invited to talk at the Sixth International Workshop in Sequential Methodologies, The title of her presentation was “Change-point detection for DNA-sequencing data with correlated structure." This took place at the University of Rouen Normandy, Rouen, France, in June 20-23, 2017.


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

Davis CL,* Pivarnik J, AuYoung M, & Sheinfeld Gorin S.

Symposium to be presented at Obesity Week, during the annual scientific meeting of The Obesity Society, this November in Washington DC. This is a Level 2 Partner Symposium sponsored by the Society of Behavioral Medicine's Scientific & Professional Liaison Council, of which Dr. Davis is a member and liaison to The Obesity Society. 

Published Abstracts

Fain ME, Williams CF, Jasti A, Bassali RW, Davis CL, & Pollock NK. Vitamin K2-Induced Carboxylation of Osteocalcin and Matrix Gla Protein Improves Bone and Lipid Metabolism in Overweight Children. 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Sept 8-11, 2017, Denver Colorado.

Awards and Honors

Mary Ellen Fain's Abstract (presented above) received two prestigious awards! 
  • Recipient of 2017 ASBMR Plenary Poster Award.
  • Recipient of 2017 ASBMR Young Investigator Travel Grant Award. The Young Investigator Travel Grant is awarded to the top Young Investigators who are selected to present an oral or plenary poster presentation at the ASBMR Annual Meeting. The award is accompanied by $500 cash prize. 
Mary Ellen is a 2nd year medical student and a research mentee of Dr. Norman Pollock 

Population Health Sciences Seeks to Improve the Lives Within our Community.

Watch our News Coverage

The Georgia Prevention Institute working in the community with Augusta University's nursing and medical teams  to bring much needed health care to local farm workers.  

Faculty in Action 

Gaston Kapuku, MD, Ph.D., was an invited speaker at the Academy of Biobehavioral Medicine Research on June 22nd. This committee harbors the pinnacle of biobahavioral scientific researchers. Members are invited and elected before joining this society. Dr Kapuku was elected 5 years ago. 
Catherine (Katie) Davis, Ph.D., was inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research this year. Dr. Davis is also participating with the leadership institute of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. 

Charity Event in August

For the month of August, Population Health Sciences will be doing a special charity event for local school children. Ask us how you can help!

Student Orientation

A new student orientation is scheduled for incoming Biostatistics graduate students on August 14, 2017.  Lunch is provided. 
James Halbert, MS
 Kim Norland
Eftihia Kountakis

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Population Health Sciences / Augusta University · 1120 Walton Way · HS-1755 · Augusta, GA 30919 · USA

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