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LEADERSHIP

The HEALTH-FAST Program is led by Dr. Ezemenari Obasi and Dr. Lorraine Reitzel who contribute to the curriculum and provide the scientific, administrative, and financial oversight for the program.

Dr. Lorraine R. Reitzel   

Lorraine R. Reitzel, PhD, FSRNT, FAAHB is a Professor in the Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences at the University of Houston (UH). Her research program focuses on tobacco control, implementation science, and the social determinants of disparities in cancer-related risk behaviors and associated clinical endpoints. She is the co-founder and former co-director (2016-2020) of the HEALTH Research Institute, a multidisciplinary university-level research institute focused on the conduct of community-informed translational research to reduce health disparities experienced locally and across the nation. Dr. Reitzel is the Principal Investigator of the Taking Texas Tobacco Free program, which has been supported since 2013 through multiple grants from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas and was one of 2 Principal Investigators of the UHAND Educational, Training and Research Program, funded by the National Cancer Institute. She services as a Co-Investigator on UH’s NIMHD-supported RCMI, the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention, directing its Investigator Development Core, and serves the institution as IRB1 Chair (2015-2022).  Dr. Reitzel has a history of sustained team science funding from the National Institutes of Health (e.g., R01, R21, P20, P60, U54), the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas, and UnitedHealth Foundation where she’s served as the primary or co-investigator.

 

Dr. Ezemenari M. Obasi   

Dr. Ezemenari M. Obasi, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences at the University of Houston. His research program focuses on addictions, health disparities that disproportionately affect the African American community, stress physiology, and cultural predictors of health behaviors and cancer prevention. He is the founder and director of the HEALTH Research Institute. Additionally, he is the Principal Investigator of UH’s NIMHD-supported RCMI, the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention, and also serves as the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Education. Dr. Obasi has a history of sustained team science funding from the National Institutes of Health (e.g., R01, R03, R13, R21, P30, U54), the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas, and UnitedHealth Foundation where he’s served as the primary or co-investigator.

 

SUPPORTING STAFF

Staff members provide support to the program, including coordination of meetings and events, communications within HEALTH-FAST and between our external advisory group and internal stakeholders; management of required progress and annual reports and non-competitive renewals; management of the budget and regulations; and coordination of all program activities.

 link to SARA committee page

Ms. Latricia E. Wallace

Latricia E. Wallace is the Program Director in the Department of Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences at the University of Houston. She has more than 15 years of experience in developing and managing academic research programs aimed at addressing the educational outcomes of minority and underserved student populations.  She has also co-authored two publications focused on the recruitment and admissions of underrepresented students in STEM.  She graduated from Washington University in Saint Louis with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. 

Ms. Mirna E. Centeno

Mirna Centeno is the Digital Media Program Manager for the HEALTH Research Institute at UH. Mirna has 15 plus years of design and marketing experience across multiple industries. She combines her passion for health disparities and creative design by specializing in translating information into aesthetically pleasing visuals that enhance audience understanding. She manages cohort recruitment materials, newsletters, project websites, and marketing materials for print and digital dissemination. Mirna is tasked with increasing website and email marketing engagement along with boosting program awareness through social media platforms. She is also bilingual and translates materials to Spanish. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Studio Art.

Dr. Tzuan A. Chen

Tzuan A. Chen, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor and Biostatistician at the HEALTH Research Institute at UH, where she provides statistical support on grant applications, manuscripts, progress reports, and offers statistical support and data management on large-scale sponsored research and dissemination projects associated with Institute and the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention. Dr. Chen has expertise in applying advanced statistical and psychometric models in health-related research, social-behavioral science, and medical field studies. She has substantial experience in clinical trial design, generalized linear mixed modeling, power and sample size calculation, and other statistical procedures commonly used in population sciences and with Ecological Momentary Assessment data. She has an extensive record of collaboration with Dr. Obasi and Dr. Reitzel.

Dr. Anastasia Rogova

Anastasia Rogova, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences at UH. She holds a PhD degree in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Her research interests include social determinants of health behavior and health disparities. She has previously worked with immigrant communities, addressing a range of issues immigrants face daily, including their experiences with health care. She has extensive experience in qualitative research, as well as background in managing and coordinating activities of research projects and educational programs.

Ms. Safiya Friday

Safiya Friday is the Administrative Assistant for the HEALTH Research Institute. She has earned her Bachelor’s in Biological and Physical Sciences from the University of Houston- Downtown. Safiya is an advocate for bridging the gap between formal science practices and its applications in disadvantaged communities. She has worked with the Grenadian-based non-profit organization, “Refreshed: Sacred Healing Retreat,” which emphasizes nature-based therapies as treatment of physiological and behavioral discomforts. Safiya will provide institutional and administrative support to promote health education and support methods that respond to the cultural, environmental, and health needs of Houston’s underserved populations.

Ms. Angela Herrell

Angela Herrell is the Research Administrator for the HEALTH Research Institute at UH.  She has over 20 years of expertise in research/financial administration, providing high-level management of federal and non-federal grant mechanisms.   She will be responsible for all pre and post award activities, assisting HRI faculty and RCMI members with completion of grant applications, budget forecasts, financial tracking/reporting and compliance.  Angie is best known for completing projects with a high degree of efficiency, reliability for meeting deadlines while managing large, complex and diverse portfolios without compromising integrity or quality.  She has a genuine passion for research administration and is committed to giving nothing less than 100% to any task at hand; going above-and-beyond without hesitation whenever needed.  Her unique skillset will be used to contribute and enhance HRI's overall mission to advance health equity.  She serves as a coach/mentor for NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) Program.