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Developing a Research Agenda to Prevent and Control CVD in Central Appalachia

College of Public Health

Project Core Members

Dr. Hadii Mamudu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Services Management and Policy in East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health. Dr. Mamudu pursued his Post-Doctoral education as a Fellow at the University of California, completing his PhD in Political Science at West Virginia University. Dr. Mamudu has frequently published research on cardiovascular disease, including his most recent article in the Southern Medical Journal, “Association Between Multiple Modifiable Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Disease and Hypertension Among Asymptomatic Patients in Central Appalachia.” 


Dr. Paul is an Associate Professor of Medicine at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine and serves on the faculty of the Department of Internal Medicines Division of Cardiology. He is Director of its Preventive Medicine and Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. After earning his medical degree in his native Bangladesh, he completed his residency in Internal Medicine at East Tennessee State University. He then completed two fellowships: one in Cardiology at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, and another in Interventional Cardiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned an MPH in Public Health and a PhD in Cardiovascular Epidemiology at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases, Dr. Paul serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for Cardiovascular Revascularization Medicine. He also serves as reviewer for several journals.  He has authored more than 100 publications. 


Dr. Wang is an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, College of Public Health, at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). His research focuses on nutrition epidemiology, obesity, health disparities, etc. Dr. Wang has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, etc. He is also the reviewer for more than 30 international academic journals. His research has been sponsored by National Institute of Health (NIH). Dr. Wang has held various leadership positions in the field of public health, including Associate Director of China-Tennessee Health Education Training, Chair of Public Relationship Committee of North America Chinese Society for Nutrition (NACSN), and Board Director of China Health Policy and Management Society (CHPAMS). He has been awarded for his outstanding leadership and contribution, such as Outstanding Leadership and Service Award, NACSN in 2016, Dean’s Special Recognition Award for University (ETSU) Leadership Faculty Senate in 2017, and Dean’s Special Recognition Award for Service on the Faculty Council in 2017. He was also the Nominee of Faculty Mentor of the Year, Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)-State Doctoral Scholars Program in 2014. 


Ginny Kidwell serves as the Executive Director for the Tennessee Institute of Public Health at East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health. She is experienced in local, state and federal legislation and policy in the fields of education, economic development and public health. She also has experience in state government, program planning and logistics and has extensive experience in partnership building and maintenance. Prior to her current position, she served as Jobs Development Specialist with the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development and also served during that time as the Governor’s Regional Liaison in Northeast Tennessee. Her previous experience includes directing operations at the ETSU-Greeneville off-campus center and serving as director of the Tennessee Institute for Economic Development. While working in Nashville, she served in administrative positions with the Tennessee Public Service Commission, Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee General Assembly. She is co-director for the Center for Rural and Appalachian Health.  She recently served as co-PI for the NACCHO Survive and Thrive Regional Training Center. 


Mary Ann Littleton, who holds a Ph.D. in Health Education and Promotion at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health in East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health. Dr. Littleton designed “Trilogy: An Innovative Course Sequence for Training Community Health Professionals,” an award-winning series of three courses in which student teams assess community health needs, design a community-based intervention program to address those needs, and then implement and evaluate that intervention with community input. She received the 2016 Distinguished Faculty Award in Teaching, one of the highest honors given to faculty at the university. During graduate school, Dr. Littleton was involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of over six different Community Health Advisor (CHA) Model programs and was project coordinator for a 5-year Women’s Health Initiative National Institute of Health study using a CHA Model to reduce cardiovascular disease in African American Women living in Rural Alabama. For PCORI and other regional, state and nationally funded studies, she has contributed her expertise in qualitative research methods for capacity assessment and evaluation.


Amy M. Poole is the Research Project Coordinator for the Department of Health Services Management and Policy, College of Public Health’s “Developing a Research Agenda to Prevent and Control CVD in Central Appalachia” at East Tennessee State University. Ms. Poole completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Environmental Health at ETSU. She earned a Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology before discovering Geographic Information Sciences. While completing work toward an MS in GIS, she served as the primary researcher and data analyst for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Outreach from 2014 through 2016. Since earning her Master’s degree, Ms. Poole has maintained her commitment to understanding the Public Health issues unique to Appalachia. 

Kris Bowers has been integrally involved in the ways Appalachian communities address mutual public health issues for over 12. Experience in qualitative data collection techniques led to work helping rural Appalachian communities face various health issues from substance abuse to cancer communication through small targeted grants. She was the evaluator for a 4-year Veterans Affairs workforce development program for rural health care providers and coordinated member services for the Coalition on Appalachian Substance Abuse Policy, a regional health policy organization. Currently, she works with the Tennessee Institute of Public Health at the ETSU College of Public Health to encourage communities to develop collective ways to create sustainable public health innovation strategies to address health issues in partnership with multiple stakeholders.


Sylvester Orimaye holds a PhD in Information Technology with a focus on Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. He is currently a Graduate Research Assistant at the Department of Health Services Management and Policy, College of Public Health. He coordinates the Cardiovascular Research led by Dr. Hadii Mamudu. Sylvester has worked as a University Lecturer and Research Scientist for about 4 years while working on developing predictive algorithms for early-onset Alzheimer's disease before joining the College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University.


James Bledsoe is a student in the College of Nursing at East Tennessee State University. He is working with the “Developing a Research Agenda to Prevent and Control CVD in Central Appalachia” project through the Research Discovery Academic Performance Scholarship funded by East Tennessee State University. James transferred from Walter State Community College where he was a member of the nationally accredited Phi Theta Kappa honor society. After earning his BSN, he plans to continue his education and obtain his MSN as a family nurse practitioner specializing in cardiology.

Kristy Gagnon is a graduate student at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Public Health with a concentration in Community and Behavioral Health. She gained her undergraduate degree and Master in Public Health degree at ETSU as well. She has assisted with the Project EARTH program at ETSU for several years, which has a focus of addressing public health needs in low resource settings. Upon completing her DrPH, Kristy hopes to work with underserved populations in low resource settings, as well as pursue a career teaching the next generation of public health professionals.

Beenish Kamran is a current graduate student at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) currently pursuing her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Community and Behavioral Health. She is also working towards a certificate in Health Care Management. She gained her undergraduate degree in Public Health/Global Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where her interest in public health began. She is currently assisting with research on recruitment best practices for wellness programs addressing obesity and diabetes. After her masters, Beenish hopes to work towards a more integrated health care system that coordinates care to address an individual's social determinants of health.

Vicki Casenburg is the Health Improvement Director at Cumberland Marketing, Inc., in Kingsport, Tennessee. She graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. With more than 20 years of non-profit and public health experience, her focus is on continued growth of primary prevention and positive health outcomes in population health across the State.

Lynn Frierson had open heart mitral valve replacement and 3 by-passes in October 1995.  She joined Mended Hearts after graduation from Cardiac Rehab in 1996 and became an accredited Mended Heart Visitor at Johnson City Medical Center.  In 2004, she became President of Chapter 259 and later that year became the Assistant Regional Director for the Southern Region for Arkansas and Tennessee both of which she continues to serve today.  She received the Tom Chase Award for the Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA, now Ballad Health) Foundation in 2011, the MSHA (now Ballad Health) Servant’s Heart Award 2013, Health Care Hero Award in 2013, and was named National Mended Hearts Member of the Year, 2014.  She served as Program Chairman of the previous 6 National Conferences and is concurrently serving as Conference Chairman for the meeting in San Antonio in July 2018.  She makes presentations each month in the Cardiac Rehab in Johnson City and visits each chapter of Mended Hearts in Arkansas and Tennessee each year. 

Rob Gregory is the Vice President of Operations at Karing Hearts Cardiology. He moved his family from Richmond, Virginia, to Johnson City, Tennessee in early 2012. He has 25+ years of experience in the manufacturing industry, overseeing the business process and implementing continuous production improvements. At Karing Hearts Cardiology, he leads the company’s Administrative activities, and works to expand Karing Hearts Cardiology through strategic growth initiatives. 

Carl Voigt graduated with a BS in Chemistry and a MS in Macromolecular Science from Case Western Reserve University, spending over 40 years in the Chemical industry working for Dow Corning Corporation, Dow Chemical Company, and Eastman Chemical Company. He had open heart surgery with 4 by-passes in July, 2007 and continues to live with atrial fibrillation. He became a member of Mended Hearts, Chapter 259, in 2009 – becoming an accredited visitor and currently serving as the visiting trainer for the chapter. In addition to volunteering with Mended Hearts, he also drives the courtesy shuttle at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) and is a member of the Master Gardener team at JCMC. He received the Mountain States Heath Alliance (now Ballad Health) Servant’s Heart Award in 2015. 

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