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Health Disparities Research Section

Michele K. Evans, MD, Chief

Ngozi Ezike, M.D., Staff Clinician HANDLS

The Health Disparities Research Section (HDRS) conducts interdisciplinary clinical and basic science research focused on examining the underlying cause of the disproportionate incidence, morbidity and mortality of age-related disease among minority and low socioeconomic status (SES) Americans. The approach provides a two-way bridge between basic science laboratory studies and clinical research that spans from a targeted epidemiologic population to the bench. Dissecting the interaction of race, socioeconomic status, behavior, environmental exposure, biologic vulnerabilities, genetics, and social environment provides insight into how these interactions may result in disparate rates of age-related disease and disability. We have accomplished this by establishing a clinical component, The Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span Study (HANDLS) and a basic science laboratory component, The DNA Repair Unit, that are interdependent and pursuing related hypotheses. The HANDLS study investigates whether race and SES influence health status and age-related health disparities separately or synergistically as co-factors of behavioral, psychosocial, and environmental conditions. HANDLS is a field-based, epidemiologic, interdisciplinary, longitudinal study. Our baseline cohort is representative of working-age African Americans and whites between 30–64 years old recruited as a fixed cohort of participants by household screenings from an area probability sample of thirteen neighborhoods (contiguous census tracts) in Baltimore City beginning in 2004. The research domains include: cognitive function, nutrition, neighborhood environment, anthropometry, cardiovascular health, physical performance, molecular markers, genetics and genomics, nephrology, neuroimaging and psychology.

List of Portfolio/Research Areas

  • Health disparities
  • cardiovascular disease
  • oxidative stress
  • inflammation
  • genomics
  • nutrition
  • aging
  • biomarkers

Findings and Publications

Dluzen DF, Noren Hooten N, Zhang Y, Kim Y, Glover FE, Tajuddin SM, Jacob KD, Zonderman AB, Evans MK. Racial differences in microRNA and gene expression in hypertensive women. Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 25;6:35815. doi: 10.1038/srep35815. PubMed PMID: 27779208; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5078799.

Noren Hooten N, Martin-Montalvo A, Dluzen DF, Zhang Y, Bernier M, Zonderman AB, Becker KG, Gorospe M, de Cabo R, Evans MK. Metformin-mediated increase in DICER1 regulates microRNA expression and cellular senescence. Aging Cell. 2016 Jun;15(3):572-81. doi: 10.1111/acel.12469. PubMed PMID: 26990999; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4854919.

Kim Y, Noren Hooten N, Dluzen DF, Martindale JL, Gorospe M, Evans MK. Posttranscriptional regulation of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein by the RNA-binding protein HuR and MicroRNA 637. Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Dec;35(24):4212-21. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00645-15. PubMed PMID: 26438598; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4648813.

CE, Evans MK, Wenger J, Zonderman AB, Berg AH, Nalls M, Tamez H, Zhang D, Bhan I, Karumanchi SA, Powe NR, Thadhani R. Vitamin D-binding protein and vitamin D status of black Americans and white Americans. N Engl J Med. 2013 Nov 21;369(21):1991-2000. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1306357. PubMed PMID: 24256378; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4030388.

Noren Hooten N, Ejiogu N, Zonderman AB, Evans MK. Association of oxidative DNA damage and C-reactive protein in women at risk for cardiovascular disease. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012 Nov;32(11):2776-84. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300276. PubMed PMID: 22982460; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4609036.