Core Faculty

Matthew L. Bush , MD, PhD, Vice Chair for Research and Associate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, College of Medicine. Dr. Bush is a surgeon scientist who has a research focus on increasing access to and timely delivery of specialty healthcare in underserved populations. His current work involves healthcare clinical trial design and execution among vulnerable populations which incorporates mixed methodology along with implementation research approaches. His work is currently funded by the NIH (1K23DC014074).
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Roberto Cardarelli , DO, MHA, MPH is Professor and Interim Chair for the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Department of Family & Community Medicine. His research is focused in implementation science and clinic transformation research in chronic pain management, lung cancer screening, tobacco cessation, care transitions, and cardiovascular health.  He has been funded by NIH and numerous federal and nonfederal organizations.  He currently directs the Kentucky Ambulatory Practice-based Research Network (KAN) that is focused in helping primary care clinics in implementing QI models to improve the care they deliver to their populations.
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Lisa Cliggett PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Cliggett’s research examines the socio-political, economic and ecological dynamics of development and change, including health, in Zambia, Southern Africa.  Her current and past research is supported by the National Science Foundation.
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Alison Davis PhD, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK). Dr. Davis’s research and engagement work focuses on economic development, health access, and civic engagement in primarily rural communities in Kentucky. Dr. Davis manages 14 research and engagement staff with funding from USDA, Appalachian Regional Commission, and private foundations .
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Mark Dignan, PhD, MPH Professor, Department of Internal Medicine.  Dr. Dignan’s research is focused on cancer prevention and control for rural and medically underserved populations.  His projects have developed and evaluated the effectiveness of interventions to increase screening and follow-up for abnormal screening test results and have included partnerships with community members, healthcare providers and healthcare delivery systems.  His current project is to increase patient navigation for Appalachian populations and is supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission.  
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Amanda Fallin-Bennett , PhD, RN, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing. Dr. Fallin-Bennett’s research focus is on reducing tobacco use among vulnerable groups, including pregnant women, women with substance use disorders, sexual and gender minority women, and residents of rural communities. Her studies have been supported by a Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health training grant, as well as funding from March of Dimes, American Nurse Foundation, Foundation for a Healthy KY, and the Kentucky Department of Public Health. 
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Anita Fernander, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Behavioral Science, College of Medicine. Dr. Fernander’s focus is on race, racism and how other social inequities influence health disparities among racial/ethnic populations. More recently, she has been exploring how cultural humility can serve as a transformative catalyst for healthcare professionals to promote health equity. In addition, Dr. Fernander serves as founder and chair of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Disparities Coalition. 
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Nancy Grant Harrington, PhD, is Professor of Communication, Director of the Health Communication Research Collaborative, and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Communication and Information; she also holds an academic appointment in the School of Public Health and is a faculty associate of the Multidisciplinary Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. Dr. Harrington’s research focuses on persuasive message design in the health behavior change context. Her current work focuses on developing training materials to improve patient-provider communication in contexts such as substance use treatment referral, tobacco cessation, and cost-of-care conversations. 
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Patrick Kitzman , PhD, MSPT, Professor, Associate Dean for Research, College of Health Sciences. Dr. Kitzman’s research focus is on care transitions and community resource development for individuals with neurological conditions such as stroke, brain injury, and spinal cord injury living in under-resourced rural communities. He is also involved with examining health disparities related to these at-risk populations.   
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Debra K Moser PhD, Professor and Linda C. Gill Chair of Cardiovascular Nursing, DirectorRICH Heart Program, College of Nursing. Dr. Moser’s focus is cardiovascular disease risk reduction in vulnerable populations with marked health disparities. She uses a biobehavioral approach to her work, and concentrates on how social determinants of health affect intervention delivery and outcomes. Her recent studies involve testing a unique cardiovascular risk reduction intervention among rural caregivers of individuals with chronic illness and she is working with interdisciplinary partners to determine the effects of cardiovascular disease risk reduction efforts (that include dietary modification) on TMAO and on the interplay of environmental pollutants with such interventions. Her work is supported by NIH and PCORI grants (R01NR016824, R01NR014189).
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Brittany Smalls , PhD, Assistant Professor, Center for Health Services Research, College of Medicine. Dr. Smalls’ research focus is addressing social determinants of health and its influence on self-care in those with complex chronic disease, especially older adults. My research includes serving as co-investigator on 2 NIH R01 grants: (1) reducing cardiovascular risk in caregivers in rural Appalachia (1R01NR016824) and (2) improving self-care and access to care in those with type 2 diabetes living in rural Appalachia (1R01DK112136).
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Dr. Danelle Stevens-Watkins

Danelle Stevens-Watkins, Ph.D. is Licensed Psychologist and an Associate Professor in Counseling Psychology. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. Broadly, her research focuses on health disparities among African Americans. She recently concluded two National Institutes of Health funded research projects. One focused on mental health, drug use, and HIV risk among incarcerated African American men nearing community re-entry. The second was a feasibility study examining a cultural adaptation to an evidence-based group HIV prevention intervention. Her current research examines opioid use patterns and drug treatment among African Americans.

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Lovoria B. Williams , PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, Associate Professor, College of Nursing. Her research focuses on implementing multi-level interventions to reduce obesity and lung cancer disparities among African Americans and medically underserved population through community based participatory methods.  Her work is funded by grants from the NIH, State, and Foundations. 
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April Young , PhD MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health. Dr. Young’s research has a two-tiered approach with overarching aims to (1) to reduce the disproportionate burden of opioid use and related harms in rural Central Appalachia, and (2) to conduct epidemiologic research that enables better characterization of risk networks and their contribution to HIV, hepatitis C, and related outcomes. Her research has been supported by grants from NIH (R21 DA042727, R03 DA039740, R43 MH106361) and a cooperative agreement from NIH, CDC, SAMHSA, and the Appalachian Regional Commission (UG3 DA044798). 
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James P. Ziliak, PhD, Gatton Endowed Chair in Microeconomics, Director of Center for Poverty Research and Kentucky Federal Statistical Research Data Center. His research expertise is on the linkages between U.S. tax and transfer policies and poverty, inequality, food insecurity, and other household behaviors. Recent research is on links between food insecurity and poor health, the causes and correlates of rising inequality, and the determinants of persistent poverty in rural communities. His research is supported by DHHS grant number AE00103, and USDA (ERS) grant 58-5000-3-0066.
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