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Clemson University School of Nursing Center for Research on Health Disparities

Center for Research on Health Disparities

Advocating for the development, advancement and dissemination of research on population health and health disparities.

Clemson University School of Nursing Center for Research on Health Disparities

The Center for Research on Health Disparities is an outgrowth of the Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities and Training (EXPORT) Center project, a collaborative partnership between Clemson University’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, and Voorhees College’s Center of Excellence in Rural and Minority Health. The EXPORT Center is made possible through an EXPORT grant from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.

The Center for Research on Health Disparities provides leadership for the development and advancement of comprehensive, culturally sensitive, community-based participatory research that improves health outcomes and enhances quality of life. The center links faculty, students and community members to advance research on the complex causes of health disparities and strategies to eliminate these disparities. To accomplish its goals, the center draws on the support of and collaboration among individual and institutional partners.

  • Mission | Vision | Guiding Principles
    Mission

    Our mission is to advocate for the development, advancement and dissemination of research on population health and health disparities.

    Vision

    Our vision is to be transformational health research leaders improving quality of life and well-being.

    Guiding Principles
    • Our research goal is improved quality of life, including positive health outcomes and a sense of well-being for people in South Carolina and beyond. We have a particular emphasis on underserved populations.
    • Our research encompasses many model types of research including bench, translational, clinical practice, and others.
    • Our research supports the principles of the Community-Based Participatory Research model.
    • Our research encompasses a lifespan and developmental approach.
    • Our research teams are comprised of people in practice from culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse backgrounds and disciplines.
    • Our research outcomes aim to be translatable back to the community for improved health.
  • Faculty Associates

    Through research and scholarship activities focused on vulnerable and underserved populations, CRHD Faculty Associates are committed to reducing and eliminating health disparities to improve quality of life and well-being for South Carolina citizens and beyond. These content experts work collaboratively with colleagues across the university and partners in the community. Sub-groups meet as appropriate to discuss current projects, explore research and grant opportunities, and network with internal and external health disparities experts. For more information about the Faculty Associates, please contact Dr. Veronica Parker at veronic@clemson.edu.

    Nicole Davis Nicole Davis

    Dr. Davis is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. Her research interests include initiatives related to nursing workforce diversity; use of social media and internet-based recruitment to reach informal caregivers of older adults with urinary incontinence; and telehealth self-management of bladder, bowel, and associated skin care problems in home-bound adults.

    Stephanie Davis Stephanie Davis

    Dr. Davis is a Professor in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include expanding Nurse Practitioner primary care expertise for underserved and rural populations; exploring transdisciplinary collaboratives to integrate behavioral health into primary care; expanding primary care access in Greenville County through Nurse Practitioner education support; and preparing practice ready Baccalaureate Nurses for primary care.

    Tracy Fasolino Tracy Fasolino

    Dr. Fasolino is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include palliative care initiatives and outcomes for end-stage pulmonary and cardiovascular patients; advancing direct patient care involvement in evidence-based practice and research; and utilizing simulation for training students and practicing medical providers.

    Karyn Jones Karyn Jones

    Dr. Jones is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include health behavior and health communication interventions; social determinants of health and health outcomes; and strategies to identify/reduce/eliminate the impact of health disparities.

    Anne Koci Anne Koci

    Dr. Koci is a Clinical Professor and Distinguished Scholar in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include marginalization, intimate partner violence, health outcomes of abuse, preventive health screening, adverse childhood experiences, caring for women globally, adolescent health and rural health; the simulated hospital environment; and Nurse Practitioner education.

    Janice Lanham Janice Lanham

    Ms. Lanham is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include digital and social media for pedagogical innovation; mobile and telehealth in classroom and clinical practice settings; mobile health for chronic disease management; augmented/virtual reality/ artificial intelligence; and reduction/elimination of health disparities.

    Lisa Miller Lisa Miller

    Dr. Miller is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include expanding Nurse Practitioner primary care expertise for underserved and rural populations in SC; promoting health in Latin America; interprofessional service-learning; assessment of anemia levels for infants and children in high altitude Peru; postpartum depression; low income and first-time mothers health outcomes; and prenatal education.

    Kim Pickett Kim Pickett

    Dr. Pickett is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include health promotion in patients with Type 1 and 2 diabetes; tobacco cessation in patients with cancer; psychosocial determinants of health; health promotion in marginalized populations; and hypertension.

    Zahra Rahemi Zahra Rahemi

    Dr. Rahemi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include older adults; aging; planning for end of life care; culture and health outcomes in culturally diverse populations; and quality of life.

    Jennifer Rice Jennifer Rice

    Dr. Rice is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include diabetic foot care, in home primary care, and health disparities.

    Lu Shi Lu Shi

    Dr. Shi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences. His primary research interests include simulation modeling; health economics; behavioral economics; complementary and alternative medicine; and population health.

    Ann Wetsel Ann Wetsel

    Dr. Wetsel is a Professor in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include expanding Nurse Practitioner primary care expertise for underserved and rural populations; expanding primary care access in Greenville County through Nurse Practitioner education support; preparing practice ready Baccalaureate nurses for primary care; and preparing and expanding the sexual assault nursing education workforce.

    Janice Withycombe Janice Withycombe

    Dr. Withycombe is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include pediatric oncology; and physical activity and fatigue in adolescent oncology patients.

    Mary Ellen Wright Mary Ellen Wright

    Dr. Wright is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. Her primary research interests include perinatal substance exposure; substance use in relation to families with infants and children; domestic/interpersonal violence; and child development and prevention strategies for child maltreatment.

  • Core Team

    Asa BriggsAsa Briggs, DNP, PMHNP-BC, MA, BA
    Rural Mental Health Specialist

    Asa T. Briggs, PMHNP began his career in psychiatric mental health with a role as a nurse practitioner at Unity Health Care, Inc., the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in the District of Columbia. For the past three years, Asa served as the Discipline Director of Psychiatry at Unity providing leadership in the areas of quality improvement and best practice guidelines. In May 2020, Asa will complete his Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Yale School of Nursing at Yale University.

    Nicole Davis Nicole Davis, PhD, RN, AGPCNP-BC, GNP-BC
    Aging and Health Disparities Specialist

    Dr. Davis is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. Her research interests include initiatives related to nursing workforce diversity; use of social media and internet-based recruitment to reach informal caregivers of older adults with urinary incontinence; and telehealth self-management of bladder, bowel, and associated skin care problems in home-bound adults.

    Karyn Jones, PhD Karyn Jones, Ph.D.
    Communications Specialist

    Dr. Jones' current research interests and activities include health behavior interventions, social determinants of health, and strategies to identify/reduce/eliminate the impact of health disparities. She has ongoing projects in areas related to persuasion, motivation, and interpersonal communication about health; tailored health message design and evaluation; mental health and coping strategies of health care providers; communication across interdisciplinary health care teams; effects of adverse childhood experiences on communication and health across the lifespan; and behavioral interventions in the form of mindfulness training.

    Anne Koci Anne Koci, PhD, FNP-BC, WHNP, FAAN
    Marginalization Specialist and Appalachian Region Liaison

    Dr. Koci, a Women’s Health researcher, with a special interest in marginality issues and health outcomes of women with a history of abuse. She developed and psychometrically tested the Koci Marginality Index which has been translated into Spanish, Tagalog, French-Creole, Japanese, Ukrainian, Russian, and Omani for use in international research. She presents regularly at national and international conferences regarding marginalization and health outcomes of abuse. She integrates trauma informed care into her NP clinical practice.

    Veronica G. Parker, Ph.D. Veronica G. Parker, Ph.D.
    Director

    Veronica G. Parker, Ph.D., Director - As the director of the center, Dr. Parker oversees all center activities, conducts research, and works closely with the associate director to secure funds for the center from a variety of sources. She was co-principal investigator on the ACUMEN Project and serves as principle investigator and Administrative Core director for the EXPORT Center. Her research with the center involves asset-mapping and geospatial analysis (GIS mapping) of health-related resources in lower- and upper-state EXPORT counties; GIS mapping of poverty levels and selected diseased states by race/ethnicity in selected EXPORT counties; and testing of a faith-based weight-loss intervention in EXPORT counties. Dr. Parker also holds a faculty position in the School of Nursing at Clemson and has publications in many journals, including RINAH, Journal of Pediatric Nursing, Journal of Family and Community Health, Diabetes Spectrum, and Ethnicity and Disease. Her other research areas have included pediatric and geriatric healthcare practices and pain management in a variety of settings. She has served as principle investigator, co-investigator and project director on grants from the NIH, American Cancer Society and the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Parker received a B.S. in physics-engineering from the College of Charleston, a B.S. in engineering analysis focusing on bioengineering from Clemson University and a Ph.D. in biostatistics from the Medical University of South Carolina.

    Sara Sarasua, PhD, MSPH Sara Sarasua, Ph.D., MSPH
    Genomics Specialist

    Dr. Sarasua’s research interests include: Genetic Epidemiology & Statistical Genetics, etiology of adhesive capsulitis, Phelan-McDermid syndrome (22q13 deletion syndrome), copy number variant associated diseases, lysosomal storage disorders, alpha mannosidosis, mucolipidosis, Rett Syndrome, atypical Rett syndrome, multiomic approaches to migraine etiology, metabolomics, and genomic analysis of speech and language delay, seizures, birth defects, developmental delay.

    Michelle Taylor Smith Michelle Taylor Smith, MSN, BSN, RN, FACHE
    Operations Officer and Community Liaison/External Advisory Board Leader

    Mrs. Michelle Taylor-Smith is an Ohio native and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Toledo and Masters degree from the Medical College of Ohio. She is a Masters-prepared Nurse Administrator with greater than 30 years Administrative and Executive experience, holds a Certificate in Finance from the National Healthcare Financial Management Association, and is Fellow in the American College of Health Executives. Her Operations experience spans multiple healthcare settings and Health Systems that include acute and outpatient-care, physician-practices, and academics. Michelle’s most recent role was Vice President of Patient Services and System Chief Nursing Officer of Greenville Health System (PRISMA HEALTH). In addition to co-leading the foundation for physician-nurse Inter-professionalism, during her tenure Greenville Health System transitioned to a BSN-preferred organization and she partnered with Dr Valentine and Clemson University for the development of the now Clemson-Greenville College of Nursing. Magnet status designation was obtained at the Greenville and Greer Memorial hospitals, and Pathways to Excellence at Patewood Memorial, which is the designation for smaller specialty organizations; and The Office of Patient Experience was launched. Currently serves as President of the Greenville Free Clinic Board of Trustees and member of the Program Review Committee for the American College of Health Care Executives. (ACHE).

  • Collaborators

    Charlton Coles Charlton Coles, Ph.D.

    Dr. Coles serves as a consultant for CRHD. He is currently engaged in research to address community issues related to health disparities and environmental justice in minority populations. Recent research projects have included asset mapping to identify the strengths of communities in addressing public health concerns, strategies aimed at improving resiliency for ethnic minorities, and developing a working framework for clinicians and responders to manage community and family stress more effectively from a technological disaster. Dr. Coles has published in journals, such as the Journal of Clinical Psychology, The American Journal of Public Health, and Family & Community Health. He has presented at the International Qualitative Health Research Conference, EPA’s Strengthening Environmental Research and Decision Making symposium, and the Safety Officer’s symposium. He is especially interested in the Center’s capacity to reach ethnic minorities in underserved areas of the state. Dr. Coles received his B.S. in Psychology from Georgia State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Florida.

    Janet H. Evatt Janet H. Evatt, M.T.S.

    As a collaborator with the center, Ms. Evatt synchronizes CRHD and CUSHR related activities, and assists with student workers. She is particularly interested in the center’s work with faith communities to eliminate health disparities in rural South Carolina. Ms. Evatt is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and her primary research interest is brain functioning and its impact on perception and behavior. Ms. Evatt received her B.S. in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Texas at Austin and her Master of Theological Studies from Duke University.

    Kenneth Robinson Kenneth Robinson

    Dr. Robinson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice. His primary research interests include community development and health disparities; local food banks to improve sustainability of small and limited resource farms; and economic development.

  • External Advisory Board

    The role of the center’s External Advisory Board and its members is to serve as advisors, ambassadors, and advocates, provide recommendation and input to execute the mission and vision of CRHD, and facilitate partnerships to reduce population health disparities.

    Stoney Abercrombie, MD, FAAFP
    Director of Medical Education AnMed Health

    Frank Clark, MD
    Medical Director & Division Chief for Adult Inpatient & CL Services Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Prisma Health Upstate

    Gary Clary
    Former SC House Representative Retired Circuit Judge and Certified Mediator and Arbitrator

    Nancy Kate Durham, FNP
    Medical Science Liaison, Abbott Diabetes Care

    John Lowe, RN, PhD, FAAN
    Professor and Joseph Blade Centennial Memorial Professorship Chair The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing

    Virginia Ann Mullikin
    Executive Director South Carolina Free Clinic Association

    Elizabeth Steadman, ACNP, MSN, MSS, Colonel, USA (ret)
    MUSC Vascular Surgery, College of Medicine Instructor, retired Good Neighbor Free Medical Clinic (Beaufort, SC), volunteer

  • Contact

    Center Research and Projects

    Veronica G. Parker, Director
    404 Edwards Hall
    864-656-0984
    E-mail: veronic@clemson.edu

    Partnerships and External Advisory Board

    Michelle Taylor Smith, Operations Officer
    264 CU Nursing building
    864-720-2087
    Email: msmit33@clemson.edu

    Other Inquiries

    Rob Atkinson, Administrative Assistant
    110A CU Nursing building
    864-720-2080
    Email: raatkin@clemson.edu

School of Nursing
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