People and Programs on the Move in Public Health at the UArizona Health Sciences

Oct 28, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. – In the midst of its “20 Days for 20 Years” anniversary celebration, among recent promotions, honors and awards at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health are the following news items:

Lifestyle Changes Biggest Step in Cancer Prevention, Researcher Says

Three new lifestyle guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) – be active, select foods to make a healthy eating pattern and don’t consume alcohol – may make the difference in cancer prevention, according to a UArizona Health Sciences researcher. The new Diet and Physical Activity Guideline, unveiled in June by the society, was developed by a team of experts led by Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD.

Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, professor and director, Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion, and the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline (ASHLine), led development of American Cancer Society’s new Diet and Physical Activity Guideline. (Photo: University of Arizona Health Sciences)Dr. Thomson, professor and director, Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion and the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline (ASHLine), in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, also holds multiple posts in the UArizona Cancer Center, including co-leader, Cancer Prevention and Control Program, co-director, Behavioral Measurement and Interventions Shared Resource, and interim associate director for population sciences.

She was the co-lead of the ACS committee assembled to revisit the cancer prevention guidance this year. Together, they detailed simple yet meaningful ways in which diet and physical activity can help people reduce their personal risks for developing cancer.

The committee included authorities from institutions and public health organizations across the country. Dr. Thomson, also a professor of nutritional sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, contributed to the ACS recommendations in 2007 as well. Learn more here.

Federal Grant Funds Study of Yoga on Health among Elderly

Purnima Madhivanan, MBBS, MPH, PhD. (Photo: University of Arizona Health Sciences)

Purnima Madhivanan, MBBS, MPH, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion Sciences at the College of Public Health, will study “Senior Yoga” as an intervention to reduce cumulative health problems among the elderly. Dr. Madhivanan received a National Academy of Medicine Catalyst Award research grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a unit of the National Institutes of Health, for $143,696 for her two-year study titled, “Yoga for Healthy Aging Study: A Mind-Body Intervention to Reduce Multimorbidity in the Elderly.”

Dr. Madhivanan’s research seeks to adapt an evidence-based yoga lifestyle program, Senior Yoga, for primary care settings in India, and implement it in the future with a local population in Tucson. This form of yoga, recommended as a healthy aging strategy in the Go4Life campaign from the NIA, is tailored to be safe, gentle and helpful for the elderly. It was developed to address the physical and mental needs of seniors aged 60-80 years in low-income communities. With origins in ancient Indian philosophy, yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation and relaxation for better physical and mental health. Learn more here.

Childhood Obesity Prevention Program Recast for Latino Middle Schoolers

Jedzia Rodriguez, a public health student, and Sabrina Plattner, a senior health educator in the College of Public Health’s Health Promotion Sciences Department, redesigned its Project Healthy Schools (PHS) curriculum so it would reach Latino students in Southern Arizona more effectively. The effort built on the original PHS program launched in fall 2018 by Plattner as part of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative, a program in the Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion begun with support of now retired cardiologist and professor emeritus Frank Marcus, MD. The student, Rodriguez was excited to teach local middle school students about the positive health effects of healthy eating and exercise to fight childhood obesity – a health challenge widespread in Arizona. Working with Plattner, Rodriguez focused on the revisions for an Independent Study course in fall 2019. Even after her course was over, Rodriguez decided to continue supporting the program update and took it on for her public health internship as well. The new curriculum is called Healthy Schools Arizona. Learn more here.

Dr. Heather Carter Picked to Help Lead Phoenix Leadership Program

Heather Carter, EdD, College of Public Health faculty member, state senator and executive vice president, Greater Phoenix Leadership (Photo: Arizona Center for Rural Health)Instrumental in creation of the Applied Health Policy Institute on the college’s Phoenix campus, Heather Carter, EdD, an adjunct lecturer with the College of Public Health, associate director for the college’s Arizona Center for Rural Health and state senator for the Phoenix area’s District 15, became executive vice president for Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL) on Oct. 1. Neil Giuliano, the organization’s president and CEO, announced creation of the position for GPL in early September, citing its strengthened commitment to serving as the region’s premier CEO business leader organization engaged on critically important public policy issues. In her role, Dr. Carter will focus on issues related to education, health care and further implementation of the organization’s strategic plan adopted in May 2020. Learn more here.  

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NOTE: Photos available here – https://arizona.box.com/s/u9ljmeb2hqx8k6mev8y8rvfbulfocoxn.

About the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Established in 2000, the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona Health Sciences is the first nationally accredited college of public health in the Southwest. Today the college remains the only accredited college of public health in the state of Arizona, with campuses in Tucson and Phoenix. The college enrolls more than 1,100 students per year across degree programs at the bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctoral levels. Through research, education and community engagement, the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health continues to find solutions to public health problems in Arizona, the Southwest and globally. For more information: publichealth.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram).

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. UArizona Health Sciences includes the Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona, the greater Southwest and around the world to provide next-generation education, research and outreach. A major economic engine, Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).

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