The American Academy of Health Behavior

Speaker Profiles 2017

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Cinnamon S. Bloss, Ph.D.

University of California, San Diego

The Qualcomm Institute/Calit2

Title:  "Impacts of Precision Health Technologies on Individuals and Society"


  1. Gain exposure to a range of precision health technologies, including their potential risks and benefits.
  2. Consider different methodological approaches to studying the impacts of precision health technologies on behavior.
  3. Understand challenges associated with translating precision health technologies into successful health interventions.

Dr. Cinnamon Bloss is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry (primary) and Family Medicine and Public Health (secondary), Division of Health Policy at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Bloss also has an adjunct appointment as a Policy Analyst at the J. Craig Venter Institute and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Bloss’ current research focuses on the individual and societal impacts of emerging biomedical technologies. Dr. Bloss’ background is in clinical psychology, statistical genetics, genomic medicine, biomedical ethics, and health policy. Dr. Bloss has conducted both candidate gene and genome-wide association studies of neurocognitive phenotypes, as well as empirical work on biomedical ethics topics. Major projects have included studies focused on direct-to-consumer genomics, clinical genome sequencing, biosensing and mobile health, and personal health big data. Prior to joining UCSD, Dr. Bloss was Director of Social Sciences and Bioethics at the Scripps Translational Science Institute. Dr. Bloss has previously been the PI of a R21 grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute’s (NHGRI) Ethical Legal and Social Issues program to study consumer psychological and behavioral response to direct-to-consumer genomic testing. From this work, she published a seminal article in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented invited testimony based on the findings before a Food and Drug Administration Advisory Panel to inform consumer genomics policy. More recently, Dr. Bloss was awarded an R01, also from the NHGRI, to pursue the development of tools to understand privacy preferences of individuals who are exposed to health big data technologies. Dr. Bloss has published more than 60 papers and mentored over 25 students, ranging in level from high school to post-doctoral fellow. She has also worked with children, adults and families with wide range of clinical issues.

Molly S. Bray, PhD

University of Texas at Austin

Title:  "Can Genomic Information Guide Precision Treatment of Weight Management?"


  1. Discuss the role of genes in obesity and weight loss and a discussion of how genes influence energy balance through the direct and indirect influence of health behaviors (e.g., eating and physical activity).
  2. Discuss the role of additional biological systems that influence energy balance (e.g., epigenetics, gut microbiome).
  3. Examine how multi-omic data can be utilized for weight loss and provide recommendations for the future of weight loss treatment.

Dr. Bray is a Professor and Chair, and holder of the Susan T. Jastrow Endowed Chair in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, with a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and a PhD in Human and Molecular Genetics.  She also served as the former Director of the Heflin Center for Genomic Science Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Children’s Nutrition Research Center/Baylor College of Medicine Genetics Core Laboratory.  Dr. Bray’s research focuses on the relationship between energy balance and lifestyle factors such as exercise, nutrition, and circadian patterns of behavior.   Her findings related to how the timing and quality of energy intake affect weight gain and metabolic health have been featured on national and international news programs and a myriad of websites and popular news media.  Dr. Bray also currently leads one of the largest genetic studies of exercise adherence established to date, the Training Interventions and Genetics of Exercise Response (TIGER) study, with a total cohort of more than 3,500 individuals.  Dr. Bray's research has included investigations of aerobic fitness and resting and exercise energy expenditure in children and adolescents, circadian studies of feeding and metabolic response, and clinical studies of morbidly obese adolescents undergoing bariatric surgery.  Dr. Bray has published extensively in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals and her work has been featured in national and international scientific meetings. 

Gregory K. Farber, PhD

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

 Title:  "Major Initiatives at NIH:  All of Us and the BRAIN Initiative"


  1. Understand the reason for the creation of major new initiatives at NIH
  2. Describe the goals of the BRAIN Initiative.
  3. Describe the scale and scope of the All of Us research project.

Dr. Farber has a B.S. from Penn State University in chemistry (1984) and a Ph.D. from MIT in physical chemistry (1988).  Dr. Farber’s research in graduate school involved determining the three dimensional structure and mechanism of the enzyme xylose isomerase in the laboratory of Dr. Gregory A. Petsko.  After graduate school, Dr. Farber received a Life Sciences Research Fellowship to work on mechanistic enzymology with Dr. W. W. Cleland at the University of Wisconsin.  Following his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Farber returned to Penn State as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and rose to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure by 1998.  His research included work on structural movies of enzyme action, molecular evolution, and mechanistic enzymology. 

Following a sabbatical year in the Division of Biological Infrastructure at the National Science Foundation, Dr. Farber decided to stay in government service.  He moved to the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), part of NIH, in 2000.  At NCRR, he managed a number centers and individual investigator awards in technology development and bioinformatics, as well as a cohort of interdisciplinary research centers.  Dr. Farber concluded his service at NCRR as the Director of the Office of Extramural Activities and the Director of the Office of Construction Grants.

In June 2011, Dr. Farber became the Director of the Office of Technology Development and Coordination at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).  That office is responsible for coordinating all technology development and bioinformatics activities at NIMH including common data element activities, overseeing the NIMH Data Archive, managing the NIMH component of the BRAIN Initiative, managing the Human Connectome project on behalf of the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint, and also overseeing the NIMH small business program.    

Colleen McBride, PhD

Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Dr. McBride is the Grace Crum Rollins Chair in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education.  She came to Emory from the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health, where she served as founding chief and senior investigator of the Social and Behavioral Research Branch. McBride's research focuses on innovative public health interventions to promote risk-reducing behaviors, specifically using genetic information to motivate healthy behaviors. Genetic information, scientists believe, eventually will allow lifestyle interventions to be personalized to make compliance with healthy behaviors easier.

McBride held academic positions at the University of Washington as well as Duke University Medical Center, where she served as chief of the Division of Prevention Research in the Department of Community and Family Medicine. At Duke, she was director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program. She has held adjunct faculty appointments in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Michael E Newcomb, PhD

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Title:  "To Personalize or Not to Personalize? Optimizing eHealth and mHealth Interventions for Improving Sexual Health"

  1. Review three approaches to personalizing eHealth and mHealth interventions.
  2. Describe stepped-care/adaptive trial designs for evaluating eHealth interventions.
  3. Discuss considerations for determining the degree of personalization in eHealth and mHealth interventions

Michael E. Newcomb, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University and the Associate Director for Scientific Development for Northwestern’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. 

His research primarily sits within the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program of ISGMH. Dr. Newcomb’s research broadly focuses on health disparities in LGBT youth, particularly in the areas of HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug use, and mental health problems. His work emphasizes the interpersonal contexts that influence health outcomes, including romantic relationships and families. 

 Dr. Newcomb has received multiple grants as PI from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He is PI of an R01 from NIAAA to conduct an efficacy trial of an HIV prevention and relationship education program for young same-sex male couples, called 2GETHER. He is also the recipient of an Avenir Young Innovator Award (DP2) from NIDA to further build the 2GETHER program content for substance-using couples and conduct a comparative effectiveness trial of the adapted program. He also serves as site PI of an NIH-funded longitudinal cohort examining intimate partner violence among female-born lesbian, bisexual and queer youth, and he contributes to multiple cohort studies and intervention trials addressing LGBT youth health disparities as Co-Investigator.

Matthew E. Rossheim, PhD

George Mason University

Professional Development and Mentoring Luncheon, Monday, March 20, 2017

Title:  "An Introduction to Working with Secondary Data"

Optional Workshop, Monday, March 20, 2017: 

Title:  "Managing and Analyzing Secondary Data with Stata*"

Dr. Matthew E. Rossheim studies how the built and political environment influence substance use and related risk behaviors. He utilizes several large, national databases for secondary analyses, including data from: the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), the U.S. Census Bureau, Alcohol Policy Scale (APS) Scores, State Alcohol Agency Websites, alcohol manufacturers’ website marketing data, and HIV/AIDS and STD data collected by state and local health departments. 

Findings from these secondary analyses have been published in journals such as: Traffic Injury Prevention, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, and the American Journal of Public Health. In the graduate research methods class he teaches, Dr. Rossheim has students conduct their own secondary analyses using large national databases. In addition, he has conducted a number of studies among patrons of college bars to examine risk factors for elevated alcohol intoxication levels and driving after drinking. Overall, Dr. Rossheim’s research provides policy makers, practitioners, and researchers information to inform their decision making and improve public health and safety.

Dr. Rossheim holds a PhD in public health sciences from the University of North Texas Health Science Center. He served as the director of the MPH community health program at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Recently, he joined the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University as an Assistant Professor.

Leigh Ann Simmons, Ph.D.

Duke University School of Nursing

Title:  "Beyond the Genome: Advancing Precision Medicine through Personalized Health Behavior Change Interventions"


  1. Discuss the evolution of the Precision Medicine Initiative and its relationship to health behavior research
  2. Describe non-genomic approaches to personalized and precision medicine using examples from studies of dietary intake and weight gain during pregnancy.
  3. Summarize strategies for adapting health behavior change interventions to promote personalized care.   

Dr. Leigh Ann Simmons is an Associate Professor in the Duke University School of Nursing. A former NIH Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health scholar, she has published extensively and presented nationally and internationally in the areas of women’s health disparities, peripartum health behaviors and decision-making, and health care policy. Dr. Simmons has a specific interest in addressing obesity and depression through personalized health behavior change interventions among women of childbearing age who experience health disparities due to rural residence, racial/ethnic identity, and socioeconomic status. 

Dr. Simmons earned a PhD in child and family development from the University of Georgia, a master's degree in couple and family therapy from MCP-Hahnemann University (now Drexel University), and a BA in literature/writing from the University of California at San Diego. Between 2005-2010 she served as a Health Disparities Scholar through the NIH Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Simmons has extensive policy experience, having served as a Congressional Fellow on the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA). From 2012-2016 she served as a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee and as Chair of the Public Policy and Advocacy Working Group for the Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Personalized Medicine.

Matthew Lee Smith, PhD, MPH, CHES, FAAHB

The University of Georgia

Professional Development and Mentoring Luncheon, Tuesday, March 21, 2017 

Title:  "Keys to Quality Mentorship and Productive Collaborations: Lessons Learned from AAHB Scholars"   

Recognizing health status is influenced by a vast and interconnected set of determinants, Dr. Matthew Lee Smith has devoted his career to create synergistic partnerships and initiatives to encourage positive lifestyles and reduce rates of preventable morbidity and mortality.  He has earned a national reputation as a falls expert and evaluator of evidence-based programs for older adults. His involvement in local, state, and national evaluation initiatives have been integral to foster understanding about the reach, adoption, implementation, effectiveness, and maintenance of different evidence-based programs targeting key populations in community, school, workplace, and healthcare settings. Dr. Smith’s evaluation efforts have been funded by organizations including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Administration on Aging (AoA), National Council on Aging (NCOA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  His contributions to the field have been recognized as informing policy and practice related to the delivery and dissemination of behavior change interventions. 

Brie Turner-McGrievy, Ph.D., M.S., R.D.

University of South Carolina; Arnold School of Public Health

Title:  "Motivate, Monitor, and Measure: Using mHealth Approaches to Personalize Behavior Change"


  1. Describe the use of mobile apps, social networking platforms, and wearable devices to create personalized behavior change recommendations.
  2. List the outcomes of at least three different intervention studies using mHealth technology for behavior change.
  3. Discuss how mHealth can be used to improve health behaviors important for obesity and chronic disease prevention and treatment.

Brie Turner-McGrievy received her Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Registered Dietitian credentials from the University of Alabama in 2000. She went on to work in the area of clinical research for four years before pursuing her doctoral degree.  Brie completed her doctoral degree in nutrition and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health. Currently, she is an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior. 

Brie’s research focuses on behavioral interventions for weight loss and the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Brie has published research on the use of emerging technologies for weight loss and health promotion. In particular, her research has focused on the use of podcasting and social media to deliver behavioral weight loss interventions. Her research has combined this audio delivery method with other mobile enhancements including prompting and social support delivered via Twitter, Facebook, and within-app notifications. In addition, Brie’s work has focused on examining innovative ways to improve dietary self-monitoring, including an NIH-funded randomized trial examining the use of the Bite Counter for diet tracking and studies examining the use of digital photos and crowdsourcing for dietary tracking and feedback.

She has received several awards during her nutrition career including the Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year award in 2004, the Pat Simons Award from The Obesity Society in 2012, and the Early Career Investigator Award and the Early Career Research Mentorship Award from the Society of Behavioral Medicine in 2016.

Allison Vorderstrasse, DNSc, APRN, FAAN

Duke University School of Nursing and Duke University School of Medicine

Title:  “Is There a Role for Genomics in Diabetes and Heart Disease Prevention?”


  1. Discuss the current state of the science in genomics of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  2. Describe program of research aiming to contribute to the evidence base for and context of implementation of genomics in clinical practice for chronic disease prevention.
  3. Identify potential public health and precision health implications of the current state of the evidence in terms of chronic disease prevention and management.

Allison is an Associate Professor in the Duke University School of Nursing with a secondary appointment in the School of Medicine. She earned her BSN at Mount Saint Mary College, and her Master’s in Nursing Science at Yale University where she also completed her Doctorate in Nursing Science. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on developing, testing and implementing novel technologies in the prevention and self-management of diabetes and heart disease, including genomics and virtual environment or internet based programs. She is the lead faculty for the Precision Health research area at Duke School of Nursing and on the Executive Committee for the Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine, working with faculty in both parts of Duke on interdisciplinary research and collaborations.

Sean D. Young, PhD

Executive Director of the University of California Institute for Prediction Technology (UCIPT)

Title: "Using Social Media to Change and Predict Health Behaviors"


  1. Discover how social media is being used in health behavioral interventions.
  2. Learn about the Harnessing Online Peer Education (HOPE) social media-based intervention and how it has been used to change health behavior.
  3. Understand challenges associated with translating social media-based interventions into successful health interventions.

Sean Young, PhD, MS is the Executive Director of the University of California Institute for Prediction Technology (UCIPT) and Assistant Professor of Family Medicine. His work focuses on studying how social media and mobile technologies can be used to predict and change community and global health behaviors among at-risk populations. He is the principal investigator of the Harnessing Online Peer Education (HOPE) social media studies, which showed how social media can be used to increase HIV prevention and testing among at-risk populations in Los Angeles and Peru. Additional current areas of focus are: use of social big data to predict monitor disease; technology-based interventions to change health behaviors; and using electronic vending machines for HIV self-testing. His clinical work for the Department of Family Medicine is focused on developing and integrating patient-centered technologies to increase patient engagement and improve health outcomes.

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