Thu Nguyen, ScD, MSPH
|School||UCSF School of Medicine|
|Department||Epidemiology & Biostatistics|
|Address||550 16th. Street|
San Francisco CA 94158
|Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health||ScD, Social Epidemiology||2014||Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences|
|University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health||MSPH, Epidemiology||2009||Department of Epidemiology|
||2018||American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship|
My research focuses on the impact of social factors on health across the lifespan. I am interested in studying modifiable factors for which interventions can be designed to promote health. For my undergraduate honors thesis at Stanford University, I pioneered a study utilizing quantitative and qualitative methods to examine patient experiences at the Pacific Free Clinic (PFC) in San Jose, CA. At UNC, I worked on the evaluation team of the Baby Love Plus Program, a program implemented in 14 counties in North Carolina to provide greater access to prenatal care and social services to Medicaid eligible women. I helped to assess whether racial ethnic disparities in preterm birth, low birth weight, and infant mortality were reduced following program implementation. I continued my work examining the complex relationship between social factors and health by investigating the impact of education on dementia risk, depressive symptoms, and mortality for my doctorate dissertation at the Harvard School of Public Health. Education is an established correlate of cognitive status in older adults, but whether expanding educational opportunities would improve cognitive functioning remained unclear given the limitations of prior studies, particularly unmeasured confounding and reverse causation. Therefore, I implemented instrumental variable (IV) analyses of the association between years of education and dementia risk using newly discovered genetic variance linked to education as well as state-level school policies as instruments.
In my postdoctoral work, I investigated the impact of neighborhood level resilience factors on basic and instrumental activities of daily living. Specifically, I sought to determine whether low neighborhood physical disorder, high neighborhood safety, social cohesion, and social ties reduced the incidence of instrumental and basic activities of daily living (I/ADLs) limitations and whether these relationships were modified by memory function or race.
In my current work, I am using 2008-2014 data from the Health and Retirement Study, a national longitudinal study of adults age 50 years and older and their spouses, to prospectively examine the impact of discrimination on biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk--HbA1c, cholesterol, blood pressure, and C-reactive protein (CRP). I am also investigating whether the magnitude of the association between discrimination and these biomarkers differ by attribution of discrimination (e.g. age, race, gender, financial status) and whether modifiable factors can mediate the relationship between discrimination and cardiometabolic risk.
I hope to become a leading independent researcher, conducting innovative research examining the effects of social factors on health across the lifespan.
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