April 18, 2019

Department research day spotlights policy changes and community activism at WSU

The Wayne State University School of Medicine's Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences held its third annual Research Day on April 17 in the school's Margherio Family Conference Center.Avis Randle

The event included lectures by faculty, residents and students on several timely family medicine and public health-related topics. Abstracts by Master of Public Health student Blake Sanford and Family Medicine resident Michael Duarte, M.D., earned them the opportunity to deliver oral presentations for outstanding work.

In other awards, WSU graduate student Avis Randle was awarded the John B. Waller Jr., DrPH and Menthele (Mikki) Waller Endowed Scholarship for Master of Public Health.

“I’m extremely grateful and happy for this opportunity,” said Randle, an adoption case worker and co-founder of a nonprofit that supports breast cancer survivors. “This award is an additional confidence booster that I am in the right place and on the right path for my career.”

Dr. Waller was a public health professional for more than 40 years, directing the Departments of Health in Detroit and Newark, N.J. He was chair of the WSU then-Department of Community Medicine at the time of his death, and established the M.P.H. program within that department.

Daniel Kaisler, left, and Greg Scherle, M.D.

“This endowment just speaks to Dr. Waller’s commitment to the idea of integrating public health and medical science for the benefit of human health, specifically working to eliminate disparities and health inequities,” said Vice Dean of Diversity and Community Affairs Herbert Smitherman, M.D., M.P.H., a mentee and friend.

“He would be smiling from ear to ear knowing this event is sustaining that vision.”

M.D./M.P.H. joint-degree student Daniel Kaisler received this year’s U.S. Excellence Health Award, presented by United States Public Health Service Captain

From left: Tsveti Markova, M.D., NAPCRG representive, Blake Sanford, and Anna Victoria Neale, Ph.D.

Gregory Scherle, M.D.

Guests also listened to Sanford, an M.D./M.P.H. joint-degree student, deliver his essay, "Policy Must Treat Addiction as a Disease, Not a Crime," which won the department's M.P.H. student essay contest. Sanford also received the 2019 North American Primary Care Research Group Student Research Award. “I am honored and humbled to receive it,” he said.

In addition, 17 posters based on department research were presented by students and residents, including poster winners Riya Chhabra, a student, for “The Effect of Food Assistance Program Participation on Dietary Quality and Obesity in Preschoolers from Detroit;” and Gypsa Katoch, M.D., a resident, for “Quality Improvement Initiative to Increase Use of a Validated Developmental Disability Screening Tool During Well-Child Visits.”

The event's keynote speaker was School of Social Work Dean and Professor Sheryl Kubiak, Ph.D., who presented "Understanding Behavioral Health Across the Criminal/Legal Continuum." Dr. Kubiak is director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Justic.

The event was organized by Judith Magdalenic and Amanda Compton, along with planning committee April Carcone, Ph.D., Research Day co-chair; Julie Gleason-Comstock, Ph.D., MCHES, Research Day co-chair; Victoria Neale, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Angela Tiura, Ph.D.; and Elizabeth Towner, Ph.D.

"The third annual Research Day was a tremendous success, highlighting research and primary care accomplishments of our faculty, medical residents and public health graduate students," said Professor and Chair Tsveti Markova, M.D. "The student awards demonstrated excellence in primary care research and public health engagement. Our research and publication portfolio continues to grow and we look forward to exciting presentations in 2020."