Professor Brad Zebrack has been awarded a 5-year R01 from the National Institutes of Health for the project "Social genomic mechanisms of health disparities among adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors." The grant will allow study of molecular pathways that represent potential targets for interventions to protect AYA survivors against the adverse biological effects of social isolation, socioeconomic disadvantage, and other psychological and social determinants of health in the highly stressful context of cancer. The study’s intent is to identify functional genomic pathways through which social and psychological factors influence gene regulation and alter health outcomes in AYAs, and to define the role of such effects in structuring health disparities in post-treatment survivorship.
Professor Trina Shanks is quoted in a Washington Post article about how federal relief programs initiated during the pandemic have been surprisingly effective at lifting people and families out of poverty. President Biden’s “Build Back Better” proposal would continue some of these financial supports, which could potentially cut childhood poverty rates in half. “The whole point of the child tax credit is, if a family is working at all, it pushes the family above the poverty line so their children aren’t suffering,” said Shanks.
Professor Luke Shaefer spoke with the New York Times about how the stimulus checks issued during the pandemic brought an immediate reduction in food insecurity, which, he says, continues to fall. “We could potentially be at the lowest level of food insecurity ever recorded, because of the government transfers,” said Shaefer.
Katie Richards-Schuster joined the Michigan Minds podcast to discuss the importance of keeping students engaged and how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways youth participate in their communities.
Associate Professor Kristin Seefeldt spoke to WXYZ Detroit about the struggles families face due to food insecurity and how the new SNAP benefit can help. Beginning October 1, the program once known as Food Stamps will be receiving the single largest increase in the program's 46-year history.
Assistant Professor Lindsay Bornheimer and Curtis Center Program Manager Jamie Abelson are on the board of Garrett's Space, which was founded by Ann Arbor residents Julie and Scott Halpert after their son Garrett died from suicide at age 23 in 2017. Bornheimer and Abelson helped the new non-profit develop programs to provide holistic mental health programming for young adults struggling with mental health issues. "Adding a layer of support, positivity and tools that people can engage with can sometimes be more helpful than just medication or just traditional therapy," said Bornheimer.
"Members of our program committee were trying to think: What can we put in place that would help a young person who has been in the hospital? How can we help them transition to feeling more adequate?" recalls Abelson. She notes that the development of their approach took a year. "We wanted to make sure we had it right, because you don't take risks with this population."
Professor William Elliott spoke with WalletHub about college affordability and student loan debt. He calls for a new approach in how we think about the cost of higher education. “I want to frame the question more like, should students and their parents have to think mostly about the return on investment when picking a college? It leads to inequity,” said Elliott. “Kids who are forced to rely on debt must make decisions not based on their ability (what they have done in school and what they can do) or what is best in the long run for their career but on what they can afford. This is not an education system designed to be the great equalizer in society, instead, it is part of a system that places some people at the top and others at the bottom.
Assistant Professor Jaclynn Hawkins has been appointed as the new Associate Director of the Vivian A. and James L. Curtis Center for Health Equity Research and Training, where she is a Signature Program faculty affiliate. "I was the recipient of the Vivian A. and James L. Curtis Endowed Scholarship as a PhD student which made a huge difference in my life. I'm thrilled to be able to give back through this position in the Curtis Center for Health Equity,” says Hawkins. “I am excited to help make our center a leader in health equity research, training and community outreach. We have many exciting things on the horizon and with a strong team of staff, students and faculty, the possibilities are endless." The Curtis Center team are thought leaders, scientists, community organizers, practitioners and educators dedicated to cutting-edge research, education, training and community outreach. Since its establishment in 2008, the center has been a catalyst for social change in underserved communities.
Associate Professor Shawna Lee and Joyce Lee, PhD ‘21, are coauthors of “Longitudinal relations between coparenting and father engagement in low-income residential and nonresidential father families”, published in the Journal of Family Psychology. Their paper was awarded the Diversity and Inclusion in Men in Families Research Article Award from the National Council on Family Relations and was recognized for its contribution to advancing the science on the role of men in families.
Professor Daphne Watkins’ YBMen Project is being launched in Australia. The Freemasons Centre for Male Health & Wellbeing will use Indigenous leadership and co-design processes to adapt and contextualize the program to meet the needs of young Indigenous males across Australia. Originally developed for young Black college men in the U.S., YBMen provides social and educational support and connectedness via social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
“For the past seven years, the YBMen Project has had success with Black men and boys in the United States, and we look forward to seeing what it can do for Aboriginal males in the Northern Territory,” said Watkins. “With such strong support, resources and partnerships in place, we are confident we will see improved mental health, more progressive definitions of manhood and increased social support among Aboriginal males in Australia now, and in the years to come."
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