Faculty News, Research & Awards

March 18, 2014 | CityHealth Magazine


Visiting Scholars
Two visiting scholars — one from Spain, the other from Portugal — will be joining the CUNY School of Public Health faculty during the 2014 calendar year. Francisco (Paco) Bolumar, M.D. is a visiting professor from the University of Alcala in Madrid, where he is a professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and directs the Master of Public Health program at the National School of Public Health. Widely recognized for his scholarship in reproductive and perinatal epidemiology, Bolumar also serves as director of the Master in Research Management at the Spanish National Institute of Health (Instituto de San Carlos III). His recent research focuses mostly on examining causes of disparities in perinatal health outcomes, as well as migrant health issues. At CUNY, he will be engaging in collabo-rative research and teaching during his stay.

Rita Alexandra Manso Araújo

Rita Alexandra Manso Araújo

Rita Alexandra Manso Araújo, a doctoral student in health communications at the University of Minho in Portugal, will spend three months as a visiting scholar at SPH from March through May. A Ph.D. Research Fellow with the Portuguese Science and Technology Agency, Araujo has published studies on media coverage of communicable diseases in the Portuguese press. In her time in New York City, she will be interviewing health communications researchers and journalists to better understand how health is covered in the U.S. media.


Putting Profit Above Health

Lethal But Legal by Nicholas Freudenberg

Lethal But Legal by Nicholas Freudenberg

In his new book, Lethal But Legal: Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting Public Health, Distinguished Professor at CUNY School of Public Health and Hunter College Nicholas Freudenberg examines the ways corporate influenced and weakened regulations have affected public health over the last century.

Companies that make unhealthy foods, cigarettes, alcohol and prescription drugs are plaguing public health, leading to thousands of preventable deaths, says Freudenberg, who recently led a panel discussion on the issues at the CUNY Graduate Center with Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University and author of Food Politics; and Laura Berry, executive director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. To view media interviews with Freudenberg or read an online discussion of his book by New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, go to


Providing Healthier Meals In Public Institutions
A new report by the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College and the CUNY School of Public Health examines the health and economic impact of the more than 260 million meals New York City serves each year in public schools, public child care and senior citizen programs, homeless shelters, jails, public hospitals and other settings.

The report, “The Public Plate in New York City: A Guide to Institutional Meals,” analyzes the basic parameters of meal provision, identifies challenges, highlights emerging solutions and provides recommendations for how the city can continue to improve the nutritional quality and economic and environmental impact of the meals served not just in these agencies, but for all New Yorkers.

This report was prepared by the Food Policy Center’s Public Plate Working Group, whose members include Sara Quiett Barton, Nicholas Freudenberg, Jan Poppendieck, Ashley Rafalow, Emma Tsui and Jessica Wurwarg. The center works with policymakers, community organizations and the public to create healthier, more sustainable food environments and to use food to promote community and economic development.

The full report, executive summary and supplement are available at http://nycfoodpolicy.org/research/


Outstanding Dietetic Educator
Khursheed Navder, professor and director of Nutrition Program at the CUNY School of Public Health at the Hunter College campus, has received the Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors Area 7 “Outstanding Dietetic Educator Award,” to be presented at the group’s spring meeting in Boston. In addition, Navder was elected to serve a three-year term on the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Frank Mirer

Frank Mirer

Professor Frank Mirer is the 2014 recipient of the Herbert E. Stokinger Award for outstanding achievement in industrial toxicology, given by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. As this year’s winner, Mirer will deliver the Stokinger Lecture, an annual highlight of the American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition, which takes place in San Antonio, Texas, in June.


Linking Testosterone And Cardiovascular Risk
A team of researchers from the CUNY School of Public Health, led by professor Mary C. Schooling, has been studying the correlation of testosterone levels and cardiovascular disease. Testosterone in men declines with age and ill health, so low testosterone levels tend to correlate with cardiovascular disease risk factors, cardiovascular disease, and mortality. But while testosterone replacement is increasingly promoted to older men, the safety of testosterone replacement has never been assessed in a large trial. (Currently, the FDA is investigating the safety of testosterone.)

Using an innovative study design — a separate-sample Mendelian randomization study, Schooling’s study last year did not corroborate any observed protective effects of testosterone on cardiovascular disease risk factors or risk of cardiovascular disease. Instead, the research confirmed that testosterone lowers HDL-cholesterol and suggested that testosterone raises LDL-cholesterol. The researchers concluded that testosterone replacement should be used cautiously, considering the potential detrimental effect on LDL — as well as on HDL — cholesterol, and hence, most likely, increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

You’ll also find a letter in JAMA internal medicine from Schooling and her colleagues, questioning large trials of testosterone, as well as a New York Times article questioning the benefits and risks of testosterone.

Food and Older Adults
CUNY SPH professor Arlene Spark of the Graduate Center and Hunter College and colleagues from several New York City agencies and institutions have published two articles based on their recently completed “Cardiovascular Health of Seniors and Built Environment Study,” conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Their article, “Navigating the urban food environment: challenges and resilience of community-dwelling older adults,” published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that older adults shopped at multiple stores and often traveled outside their neighborhoods to obtain the quality of foods preferred at prices that fit their food budgets.

Manga Comics and Snack Choices
Assistant professor May May Leung, along with co-authors Gina Tripicchio and Alen Agaronov (two graduates of the School of Public Health MS-Nutrition program) and a colleague from the University of Chicago, have published a paper, “Manga Comic Influences Snack Selection in Black and Hispanic New York City Youth” in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Leung has been invited to be a featured researcher in the Spring 2014 Journal Club webinar series, and the article was recently highlighted on the French television program Le Magazine de la Santé (Health Magazine).


Beryllium-Related Disease

Grace Sembajwe

Grace Sembajwe

Assistant professor Grace Sembajwe at Hunter College, with Lew Pepper, a medical researcher at Queens College Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, and Hyun Kim, assistant professor at North Shore Long Island, have been awarded a NIOSH collaborative ERC Pilot Projects Research Grant for “Beryllium-Related Disease: A Case-Control Study of U.S. Department of Energy Workers.”

Community-Based Participatory Research Needs Greater Political Power
In a new commentary online in the American Journal of Public Health, two CUNY School of Public Health faculty members, Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health, and Emma Tsui, assistant professor of Public Health, take on the question: How can public health researchers who study policy change understand the relative roles of evidence and power in improving population health?

Emma Tsui

Emma Tsui

Arguing that meaningful improvements in health require modifying the social determinants of health and that policies are often underlying causes of the living conditions that shape health, Freudenberg and Tsui make the case that effective action to promote policies that improve population health requires a deeper analysis of the roles of scientific evidence and political power in bringing about policy change. They encourage researchers committed to the use of community-based participatory research (CBPR) to identify the appropriate scales for policy change, from community to global, and the participatory processes that acknowledge the interplay between power and evidence.