Research Core/ Exposome Work Group


The Research Core seeks to increase our understanding of the underlying mechanisms and pathways through which environmental exposures affect personal health and population health disparities. It is comprised of a transdisciplinary team of investigators who have come together to apply a public health exposome approach and curated data base to increase our understanding of the causes of disease and disparities.



The Research Core will use an exposome approach for the conceptualization of a science of health disparities:

  1. Using cumulative risk assessment models that considers risks from multiple, chemical and non-chemical exposures over the life course on personal health outcomes and population level disparities.
  2. Increasing our understanding of exposure mechanisms and pathways associated with adverse health outcomes and population level disparities
  3. Identifying the effects of different levels of exposure at critical life stages.
  4. Targeting clinical, program, and policy interventions that address the needs and circumstances of exposed persons, populations, and communities.



The Health Disparities Research Center of Excellence at Meharry (HDRCOE) supports a transdisciplinary team of investigators from multiple institutions, many of whom have worked together for the past six years, including the Ohio State University, University of Tennessee, USRA/NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, University of Cincinnati, and Vanderbilt University. The Research Core is co-led by Drs. Paul Juarez and Darryl Hood.




Paul D. Juarez, PhD has served as the PI of the Health Disparities Research Center of Excellence at Meharry (HDRCOE) since 2011. As part of his research, he has established and maintained both community coalitions and transdisciplinary academic collaborations to support his research and scholarly activities. Dr. Juarez has been recognized nationally for his pioneering efforts in operationalizing the external exposome, applying multi-methods analytics, and integrating the use of traditional epidemiologic, biostatics, geographic information systems, and computational analytics to population health disparities.

Darryl Hood, PhD is Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, College of Public Health, the Ohio State University. Dr. Hood is a toxicologist and has led efforts to study the effects of in utero exposure to benzo(a)pyrene during critical windows of central nervous system development.

Core Members

Mohammad Al-Hamdan, PhD is a Research Scientist with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA). His research expertise includes remote sensing and GIS applications to hydrology and air quality modeling; flow resistance characterization using spatial analysis of remotely sensed data and GIS; use of remote sensing in estimating soil moisture, as well as water resources planning and management; and applications of GIS and remote sensing and related spatial techniques to environmental assessment and public health.

Patricia Cifuentes, MD, PhD is an Advisor, Health Information Systems, PAHO/WHO. She ia a quantitative social researcher with expertise in Bayesian network analysis and predictive analytics.

William Crosson, PhD is a Research Fellow with Universities Space Research Association. Dr. Crosson’s research interests include measurement and modeling of land surface processes, especially surface-atmosphere energy exchange and the use of remotely sensed data, particularly soil moisture, to improve such models.

Wansoo Im, PhD is Associate Professor Family & Community Medicine at Meharry Medical College and Director of the National Community Mapping Institute. Dr. Im will serve as the Data Science Officer and oversee data curation, management, linkage of data sets for investigators. He also will coordinate GIS functions and assume responsibility for data integration and development of a comprehensive data dictionary.

Michael Langston, PhD is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Tennessee and a Collaborating Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He applies novel combinatorial algorithms and high performance platforms to cutting-edge problems from a wide variety of application domains, including health disparities, epigenetics and public health.

Maureen Lichtveld, MD, MPHis the Freeport McMoRan Chair of Environmental Policyat Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Her national and global environmental health research examines the cumulative impact of chemical and non-chemical stressors on communities facing environmental health threats, disasters and health disparities.

Patricia Matthews-Juarez, PhD, Professor, Family & Community Medicine and Vice President, Faculty Affairs and Development, Meharry Medical College. Dr. Matthews-Juarez is the Director of the Training Core of the Center and is the PI/PD of numerous health professions training grants and director of the M Alfred Haynes Research Institute for Social Equity.

Armandla Ramesh, PhD is Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Cancer Biology. His research specialty is in environmental toxicology and chemical carcinogenesis hypertabastic modeling.

Gary Rogers, PhD is a senior HPC system administrator for the National Institute for Computational Sciences at the University of Tennessee. His main area of research is focused on mining large biological datasets using graph-theoretical approaches. Dr. Rogers has access to a plethora of hybrid computing platforms including high-performance supercomputers, large memory analytic machines, and visualization hardware.

Mohammad Tabatabai, PhD. Professor, Biostatistics, School of Graduate Studies. Dr. Tabatabai will serve as Director of the Data Analysis Division. Dr. Tabatabai will be responsible for coordinating data analysis for both the research projects and the pilot projects. His expertise is in mixed model analysis and

Affiliated Investigators

William Blot, PhD is Professor of Epidemiology, School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Chief Executive Officer of the International Epidemiology Institute, and PI of the SCCS. Dr. Blot has conducted research toward identification and quantification of environmental causes of many cancers, especially racial disparities.

Cynthia Colen, PhD is Associate Professor of Sociology, the Ohio State University. Her current research investigates linkages between racial and ethnic inequalities, status attainment processes, and health outcomes; rural/urban patterning of morbidity and mortality; and the role of kinship networks as sources of resiliency among marginalized populations.

Hannah Covert, PhD, is the Associate Director, Center for Gulf Coast Environmental Health Research, Leadership, and Strategic Initiatives at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

Macarius Donneyong, PhD is Assistant Professor, Health Service Management and Policy, College of Pharmacy, the Ohio State University. His research interests are to optimize pharmacotherapy outcomes by studying the interrelationships between pharmacotherapy and behavioral risk factors such as physical activity, diet and the psychosocial determinants of health.

Emily Harville, PhD is Associate Professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Harville is a perinatal epidemiologist with interests in how pregnancy and reproduction relate to health throughout the life course, including the biological mechanisms by which health disparities are created.

Roman Jandarov, PhD is Assistant Professor, Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati. His current research interests and experience span a range of topics including space-time processes, approaches to dimension reduction, air pollution epidemiology, modeling the dynamics of infectious diseases, complex computer experiments, statistical computing, and Bayesian inference, with applications to biomedical research.

Matt Morris, PhD is Associate Professor, Family & Community Medicine, Meharry Medical College. Dr. Morris’s   research is focused on understanding psychosocial and neuroendocrine markers of risk for trauma-related psychopathology and persistent pain.

Mike Mumma, MS. is senior CMS data specialist with the International Epidemiology Institute. He is responsible for maintaining and updating SCCS data and for programming linkages between SCCS data and Medicare, Medicaid, and Death Index File data.

Charles Mouton, MDis Professor and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas Medical Branch. His primary research interests are in women’s health, health disparities and aging.

John Reichard, PhD, is a risk assessment toxicologist with Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) and a co‐investigator for the Library of Integrated Network‐based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) program at the University of Cincinnati.

Grzegorz  Rempala, PhD is Professor, Biostatics, College of Public Health and  interim director of the Mathematical Biosciences Institute, the Ohio State University. His research interests include Complex Stochastic Systems Theory, Molecular Bio systems Modeling, and Mathematical and Statistical Methods in Genomics.

Eszter Volgyi, PhD is Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine at Meharry Medical College. Her research interests include body composition, physical activity, growth, anthropometrics, bone development, cognitive development, brain development, magneto-encephalography, sports medicine, fitness devices, and body composition devices.

Maeve Wallace, PhD is Research Assistant Professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Wallace is a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist. Her current work seeks to understand the reasons underlying persistent racial inequities in maternal and infant mortality in the US, and how policies supportive of women’s health and reproductive rights influence rates of adverse maternal and child health outcomes at the population-level.

Mark Weir, PhD is Assistant Professor, Environmental Health Sciences in the College of Public Health at the Ohio State University. His research interests include quantitative microbial risk assessment and complex systems modeling and analytics.

Marcel Yotebieng, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Epidemiology, College of Public Health, the Ohio State University. His research has informed national and international guidelines on tuberculosis management and treatment of HIV in children.



For persons or research units or departments interested in becoming a member of the Exposome Work Group, contact: Paul D. Juarez, PhD at: