Pilot projects

A key aspect of our Center and each of the primary research projects is a specific desire to increase future lifespan equality. Overall US life-expectancy stalled prior to COVID19 (unlike in 27 European countries (1)), largely because of midlife mortality from cardiovascular diseases (2,3); e.g., age-adjusted midlife mortality rates for hypertensive diseases and obesity increased respectively by 79% and 114% from 1999-to-2017 (4). Worse is that people from areas with increased vulnerability related to socioeconomic status died more often and younger than people from less disadvantaged areas (5, 6). COVID19 exacerbated an already worsening situation, such that the U.S. Black-White life expectancy gap increased by ~ 40% in the first eight months of 2020 (7). Indeed, lifespan inequality (and precipitating cardiometabolic health disparities) appear to be increasing geographically (6), across income categories (8), and among racial/ethnic groups (5). Compelling evidence reported in the latest from PNAS indicates that the key to increasing lifespan equality is saving lives at ages below ~70 years (9). We propose to do just that by upscaling PAL2, an intervention strategy that places trained CHWs at the center of interpersonal patient engagement. Namely, by i) focusing on community engagement to increase reach in socially vulnerable areas, ii) assessing health risks at multiple levels across different domains, and iii) offering tailored preventive care and social services to interrupt early stages of pathogenesis. Figure shows projects and lifespan equality approach.

Project spotlight



Work closely with a Wayne Mobile Health Unit clinical pharmacist over the phone to address personalized ways to help you quit smoking.

2023 Projects

Awardee (Degree and Career Stage) URM? (yes/no) Collaborators/Co-Investigators Pilot Title Community Partnership? (yes/no) Anticipated Start/End Dates
Brittany Stewart, RD, PharmD - Assistant Professor


Helen Berlie, BHS, PharmD (Mentor),      Pia-Allison Roa, PharmD (Co-I) ACHIEVE-Cessation: A Pharmacist-Led Smoking Cessation Program Utilizing Mobile Health Units (MHU) in Detroit No

10/1/2023 - 9/30/2025

Zainab Albar, MBBS, MS - Predoctoral Research Associate No Salil V Deo, MD (Mentor) Recalibrating risk scores for diabetes patients to include social determinants of health. No 10/1/2022-9/30/2025
Clara Zundel, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Research Fellow No Hilary Marusak, Ph.D (Mentor) VETHEART – Veterans’ Exposure to Toxicants and Cardiovascular Health No 10/1/2023 - 9/30/2025
Brian Haber, MD - Assistant Professor No Robert R Ehrman, MD, MS (Mentor) The effect of social and environmental vulnerability on adverse post-discharge outcomes in patients admitted with acute heart failure No 10/1/2023-9/30/2024
Katherine Knauft, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow No Samuele Zilioli, PhD (Mentor) Air Pollution and CVD risk among Older Urban African Americans: Understanding how Volatile Organic Compounds impact Inflammation and Sleep No 10/1/2023-9/30/2025
Robinson Salazar, PhD - Postdoctoral Research Associate Yes John Pastor Ansah, MD & Sanjay Rajagopalan, MD (co-Mentors) Modeling the potential impact of Community Health Workers (CHWs) on cardiovascular disease (CVD) among African Americans in Cleveland with the active participation of Community Stakeholders Yes 10/1/2023-9/30/2025
Qikui Zhu, PhD - Postdoctoral Scholar No Shuo Li, PhD (Mentor) Role of health inequity variables on heart failure risk prediction from CT calcium score exams



2022 Projects

Awardee (Degree and Career Stage) URM? (yes/no) Collaborators/Co-Investigators Pilot Title Community Partnership? (yes/no) Anticipated Start/End Dates
Erik Carter, MD


Douglas Ruden, PhD (Mentor), Rick Zimmerman, MD (Mentor) Determining Interaction among DNA Methylation, Dietary Practices, and Blood Pressure in US African Immigrants and African Americans No 9/1/2022-8/30/2023
Michael Petriello, PhD   Samuele Zilioli, PhD (Mentor) PFAS and Cardiovascular Risk among African American Adults: A Prospective Investigation of Putative Biological Mechanisms No 9/1/2022-8/30/2023
Alberto J. Montero, MD   Nickolas Stabellini, MD, PhD (Co-I) Racial disparities in major cardiovascular events (MACEs) and treatment adverse events in women with breast cancer No 9/1/2022-8/30/2023
Yassin Khalifa, PhD   Sadeer Al-Kindi, MD (Mentor) Integrated Fine-Scale Socio-Environmental Phenotyping as Drivers of Cardiometabolic Risk No 9/1/2022-8/30/2023
Neiberg de Alcantara Lima, MD   Shaun Cardozo, MD (Mentor) Accuracy of a Protocol for Measuring Seated Blood Pressure inside Patients' Cars (CAR BP) No 9/1/2022-8/30/2023
Ramy Abou Ghayda, MD, MPH     Evaluating Risk of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) in Men with Erectile Dysfunction through Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring No 9/1/2022-8/30/2023

2021 Projects

Awardee (Degree and Career Stage) URM? (yes/no) Collaborators/Co-Investigators Pilot Title Community Partnership? (yes/no) Anticipated Start/End Dates
Qiong Zhang, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Research Associate


Christine C. Johnson, MPH, Ph.D. (Mentor), Jessica Worley, MPH (Co-I) From Environmental Inequities to Health Disparities: A Remote Sensing and GIScience Study of the Effects of SES and Greenness on Infant Gut Microbial Community Composition in the WHEALS Cohort No 3/1/2022 - 8/31/2023
Ammar Hoori, PhD -  Postdoctoral Scholar No David Wilson, (Mentor) Role of health inequity variables on high-risk atherosclerosis identified from CT calcium score exam No 3/1/2022 - 2/28/2023
Amar Basu, Ph.D. - Associate Professor No Joseph Miller MD, (Mentor) Management of Orthostatic Hypotension (OH) using a wearable sensor No 3/1/2022 - 2/28/2024
Youcheng Liu, MD, ScD, MPH, MS - Associate Professor No Pablo Ortiz, PhD, (Co-I), Robert Brook, MD (Mentor) Urinary Transcriptomics Focusing on Hypertension (HTN)-Related Genes to Explain the Mechanisms by which Portable Air Cleaners (PACs) Mitigate Particulate Matter Air Pollution-Induced Blood Pressure (BP) Elevations in a Vulnerable African American Population in Detroit. No 3/1/2022 - 2/28/2023
Pramod Khosla, PhD - Professor No Deepinder Kaur, PhD. (Co-I) Dietary patterns as a driver for nutritional interventions to manage blood pressure in mildly hypertensive African Americans No 3/1/2022 - 2/28/2023
Suresh K Balasubramanian, M.D. - Assistant Professor No Jaroslaw Maciejewski, M.D. (Mentor) Prevalence and association of clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential   and cardiovascular diseases among African-Americans vs. non-African-American cancer patients No 3/1/2022 - 12/31/2023
Megan Hicks, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor Yes Rebeccah Sokol, Ph.D. (Co-I), Hilary Marusak, Ph.D. (Co-I) Screening for social risks and health: The role of stress reduction No 3/1/2022 - 2/28/2024