Research & Graduate Studies
Center for Health Disparities Research



Core Focus Areas

Center faculty, staff, and community members work in 6 groups called Cores. Each Core uses a different strategy to reduce health disparities and improve health in eastern NC.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE CORE: Provides the guiding vision for and overall management of the center, sets strategic goals, maintains relationships among all Cores, and develops partnerships with state agencies, campus centers and institutes, and other colleges and universities. Dr. Hope Landrine is the leader of this core.

Administrative Core Internal Advisory Board

Paul Cunningham, MD
Paul Cunningham

Phyllis Horns, RN, DSN, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences
Ron Mitchelson, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Studies
Marilyn Sheerer, Ph.D., Provost & Senior Vice Chancellor
Paul Cunningham, MD, Dean, Brody School of Medicine
Paul Gemperline, Ph.D., Dean of Graduate Studies
Lloyd Novick, MD, MPH, Chair, Department of Public Health
Mary Farwell, Ph.D., Dean of Undergraduate Research
Paul Cunningham, MD, Dean of the Brody School of Medicine
Stephen Thomas, Ph. D., Dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences
Sylvia T Brown, EdD, RN, CNE, Dean of the College of Nursing
Gregory Chadwick, DDS, MS, Dean of the School of Dental Medicine
Paul Gemperline, PhD, Dean of the Graduate School
Fiona Baxter, Ph.D. Director of Institutional Planning, Office of Institutional Planning and Assessment

On & Off Campus Partners
Leo Jenkins Cancer Center
Pediatric Healthy Weight Center
Center for Health Systems Research
NC Agromedicine Institute
Eastern NC Cancer Coalition
NC Health Equity Collective

Administrative Core External Advisory Board

  • Sylvia Flack, Ph.D., Director, Winston-Salem State University Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Health Disparities; Director, North Carolina Health Equity Collective
  • Lori Carter-Edwards, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Research and Operations, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Ronny Bell, Ph.D., Director, Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

THE RESEARCH CORE:Conducts research on the etiology of health disparities, and develops clinical and community-based interventions to eliminate disparities. Dr. Doyle Cummings (Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health), and Dr. Robert Hickner (Professor of Kinesiology) are the leaders of this core.

Robert Hickner, Ph.D.
Robert Hickner

Doyle Cummings, D. Pharm
Doyle Cummings

Research Core Members: Basic Sciences & Medicine
Keith Keene, Ph.D., (Biology/ Genetics)
Sergio Acre, MD, Ph.D. (Internal Medicine)
Shaw Akula, Ph.D., MVSC (Microbiology & Immunology)
Rukiyah Van Dross-Anderson (Pharmacology & Toxicology)
Robin Tutor, MPH (Agromedicine)
Jacques Robidoux (Pharmacology & Toxicology)
Sara Grossi, DDS (Pediatrics & Dental School)
Linda E. May, Ph.D.(Dental School)
Ron Cortright, Ph.D.(Kinesiology)
David Collier, MD (Pediatrics)

Research Core Members: Social-Behavioral & Population Sciences
Juhee Kim, DSC (Public Health)
Chris Mansfield, Ph.D. (Professor of Public Health and Director, Center for Health Systems Research)
Suzanne Lea, Ph.D. (Public Health)
Irma Corral, Ph.D., MPH (Psychiatric Medicine)
Holly Mathews, Ph.D. (Anthropology)
Alice Richman, Ph.D., MPH (Health Education and Promotion)
James Mitchell, Ph.D. (Sociology)
Sharon Rogers, Ph.D. (Health Education and Promotion)
David Holder, MD, MPH (Adolescent Medicine)
Toyin Babatunde, Ph.D., MPH, RD (Nutrition Science)
Annette Greer, Ph.D., RN (Interdisciplinary Studies & Bioethics)
Paige Averett, Ph.D. (Social Work)
Greg Kearney, Ph. D.  (Public Health)
Jimmy Efird, Ph.D. (Public Health)
Essie Talina Torres, Ph.D., MPH (Health Education & Promotion)
Suzanne Lazorick, M.D., MPH (Pediatrics & Public Health)


THE EDUCATION & TRAINING CORE: Provides didactic programs to enhance understanding of health disparities, and pipeline programs to increase the number of underrepresented students in science and biomedical careers. Dr. Virginia Hardy (Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs), and Dr. Rukiyah Van Dross-Anderson (Director, Summer Biomedical Research Program and Associate Professor of Pharmacology &  Toxicology) are the leaders of this Core.

Rukiyah Van Dross-Anderson, Ph.D.
Rukiyah Van Dross-Anderson

Virginia Hardy, Ph.D.
Virginia Hardy

Education & Training Core Members
Margaret Wilson, DDS, MBA (Associate Dean for Student Affairs, School of Dental Medicine)
Martha Engelke, Ph.D. (Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, School of Nursing)
Ann Marie Holder, Ph.D. (Interim Director, Student Affairs Administration)
Angelo Collins, Ph.D. (Director ECU Center for STEM Education) 
Melanie Duffrin, Ph.D., LDN (Nutrition Science)
David Holder, M.D. (Adolescent Medicine)
Irma Corral, Ph.D., MPH (Psychiatric Medicine)
Shaw Akula, Ph.D., MVSC (Microbiology & Immunology)
Paige Averett Ph.D. (Social Work)
Eric Bailey, Ph.D., MPH (Anthropology, Public Health)
Annette Greer, Ph.D., RN (Interdisciplinary Studies & Bioethics)
Rhea Miles, Ph.D. (Education; Mathematics, Science, and Instructional Technology)
Monica Webb, Ph.D., MPH (Health Education and Promotion)


THE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, OUTREACH, & PROGRAMS CORE: Develops partnerships and collaborations with community  organizations, participates in community development and capacity-building projects, and uses community-based strategies to reduce health disparities. Dr. Sheila Bunch (Director & Professor, School of Social Work) is the leader of this Core.

Core Members

Kenny Flowers (Director, ECU Office of Community & Regional Development)
Beth Velde, Ph.D. (Director, ECU Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy)
Gracie Vines (Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Community Center, IGCC)
Kerry Littlewood, Ph.D. (Executive Director IGCC; School of Social Work)
Juvencio Peralta (Executive Director, AMEXCAN) Pat Peele (Executive Director, Roanoke Valley Breast Cancer Coalition)
N. Ruth Little (Public Health)Irma Corral, Ph.D. MPH (Psychiatric Medicine)
Annette Greer, Ph.D., RN (Interdisciplinary Studies & Bioethics)
Melissa Haithcox-Dennis Ph.D. (Health Education and Promotion)
Rev. Martha Brown (Chaplain, Vidant Medical Center, Greenville)
Latoya Vines, BS (Outreach Coordinator)

Sheila Bunch, Ph.D.
Sheila Bunch, Ph.D.



Key Community Partners


Juvencio Peralta
Juvencio Peralta, Executive Director AMEXCAN

  • Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Community Center, Inc. (IGCC)

  • Association of Mexicans in NC (AMEXCAN)

  • Roanoke Valley Breast Cancer Coalition

  • Heritage Hospital

  • NC Health Equity Collective

  • Area Wide Health Committee

THE SHARED RESOURCE CORE: Provides data-based resources, and technical assistance in surveys, statistical analyses, epidemiology, experimental-design, and grant-writing to faculty and community organizations engaged in health disparities projects. Jimmy Efird, Ph.D. (Public Health) is the leader of this Core and is the Center’s Chief Statistician.

Core Members

Jimmy Efird, Ph.D.
Jimmy Efird, Ph.D.

Paul Vos, Ph.D. (Chair, Department of Biostatistics)
David M. White, Ed.D. (Dean, College of Technology and Computer Science)
Xiaming Zeng, Ph.D. (Chair, Health Services and Information Management)
Tijjani Mohammed, Ph.D. (Chair, Department of Technology Systems)
Zachary Robinson, Ph.D. (Mathematics)
Satomi Imai, Ph.D. (Center for Health Systems Research)
Jason Brinkley, Ph.D. (Biostatistics)

THE FINE ARTS & COMMUNICATION CORE: Uses dance, music, plays, communication strategies, puppetry, and other fine and performing arts to improve health in Eastern North Carolina communities. Dr. Linda Kean (Professor & Director, School of Communication) is the leader of this Core.

Core Members

Linda Kean, Ph.D.
Linda Kean, Ph.D

John Shearin, MFA (Professor & Director, School of Theater & Dance)
Chris Buddo, DMA (Interim Director, College of Fine Arts & Communication [CFAC])
Michael Drought, MFA (Director & Professor, School of Art & Design)
Laura Prividera (Associate Director, School of Communication)
Michael Crane, MEd (School of Music; Associate Dean for Research, Marketing & Outreach CFAC)
Erick Greene, Ph.D. (School of Art & Design)
Kris Kirschbaum, Ph.D. (School of Communication)
Deborah Thomson, Ph. D. (School of Communication)
Wayne Godwin (School of Art & Design)
Patricia Clark, MFA (School of Theatre and Dance)
Teal Darkenwald, MFA (School of Theatre and Dance)
Michelle Hairston, PhD (School of Music)