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Professor Barber Awarded $2.2 Million R01 Award From NIH

Sharrelle Barber
Sharrelle Barber, ScD, MPH

September 1, 2020

Sharrelle Barber, ScD, MPH, assistant professor in the Dornsife School of Health’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative, was recently awarded a 5-year, $2.2 million R01 grant, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The research award will focus on “Cardiometabolic Risk Development and Management in Changing Neighborhoods” using state-of-the-art epidemiologic data from the Jackson Heart Study cohort linked to well-characterized neighborhood data over a 20-year period.

Barber will lead a research team that will examine how changes in physical and social features of the neighborhood environment influence hypertension and diabetes incidence and management.

Researchers from the Urban Health Collaborative have extensive experience collaborating with the Jackson Heart Study. Barber co-chairs the Social Determinants of Health Working Group and is a member of the Scientific Council for the study.

It is well established that African Americans have higher levels of cardiometabolic risk factors than whites and are less likely to achieve hypertension and diabetes control. Driven in large part by the legacy of racism and racial residential segregation, the neighborhood environment is a critical structural determinant of these inequities.

Understanding the role of changing neighborhood environments in shaping cardiometabolic risk factor development and management is critical to improving and developing appropriate policies and interventions designed to reduce the burden of cardiometabolic risk factors in high-risk communities. This research is particularly relevant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic because these risk factors put individuals at greater risk for more severe COVID-19 symptomatology and subsequent death.

In addition, understanding these changes in the unique context of the U.S. South —a region of the country with the highest burden of chronic disease and steeped in racism—will allow researchers to better understand how neighborhood processes operate in this setting and better tailor ongoing prevention efforts.