Meet our Fellows

Updated:Dec 2,2015
AHA Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center

Current A-TRAC Fellows

Angela Aherrera, MPH
Johns Hopkins University
Project: Metal Exposure in E-cigarette Users in Baltimore, MD
Angela Aherrera’s graduate work from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) involved evaluating factors that influence support and enforcement behavior towards the Turkey smoke-free legislation. As a JHSPH research associate conducting environmental epidemiologic research, she is currently investigating and analyzing the level of metal concentrations among electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) users compared to non-users as well as cigarette smokers. In the past, she conducted studies investigating the effects of secondhand smoke exposure on respiratory outcomes in infants and children with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Such studies, which included evaluating the effects of e-cigarette vapor on postnatal lung development and neurocognitive behavior, have prompted her to further investigate the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes on cardiovascular health.
 Jessica Fetterman, PhD
Boston University
Project Title: Mitochondrial Biomarkers for Assessing Tobacco and Tobacco-related Product Induced Cardiovascular Injury

Jessica Fetterman’s graduate work at the University of Alabama in Birmingham investigated the role of mitochondrial genetics and function in cardiovascular disease susceptibility and progression. As a postdoctoral fellow at Boston University Medical School, she applies her basic science training in cardiovascular and mitochondrial physiology to translational clinical research. In past, she has conducted studies investigating the role of impaired autophagy and altered mitochondrial turnover in vascular dysfunction in diabetic patients, which has provided the basis for one of her current research projects applying her knowledge about the life cycle of mitochondria to an additional cardiovascular risk factor, cigarette smoking.

 Rachel Keith, PhD, NP
University of Louisville
Project Title: CITU Study

Rachel Keith started her career as a classically trained bench researcher in physiology and biophysics investigating proteins associated with protection from deleterious effects of cardiovascular and metabolic dysregulation. Upon completion of her studies and a postdoctoral position, she pursued a degree as a nurse practitioner in order to facilitate a career focused on translational research. This led her to a junior faculty position that will allow her to look at environmental and lifestyle factors associated with both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. She is especially interested in how modifications to exposures (i.e. air pollution, smoke, and particulate matter) or lifestyle changes (i.e. diet, exercise and smoking) can prevent either the complications or development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Lindsay Reynolds, PhD
Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Lindsay Reynolds is a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Yongmei Liu at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, where she utilizes functional genomic data sets, including genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptomic data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) to investigate the molecular features of cardiovascular disease, and related risk factors: aging, smoking, and obesity. She earned her PhD at the University of California, San Francisco in 2012.  Dr. Reynolds’ research goals are to identify early biomarkers of smoking-associated disease to improve disease risk prediction, and to identify potential targets for early disease intervention strategies. This could be useful for evaluation and comparison of the disease risks associated with the use of different tobacco products.

A-TRAC Affiliated Fellows

 Mahmoud Al Rifai, MD, MPH
Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Mahmoud Al Rifai completed his medical education at the American University of Beirut. He received a Master’s of Public Health Degree with a focus in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and was inducted into the Delta Omega Alpha Chapter Society. He is currently the AHA Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center (ATRAC) fellow at Johns Hopkins and hopes to pursue a career in preventive cardiology with strong research interests in the effects of novel forms of tobacco exposure on CVD, subclinical atherosclerosis, and CVD risk assessment.

Sina Kianoush, MD, MPH
Johns Hopkins University
Project: Evaluating the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Health Effects of Electronic Cigarettes in Humans

Sina Kianoush is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. His research interest lies in the study of traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle modification regarding preventive cardiology. His current working projects include potential health effects of electronic and combustible cigarettes, mobile health technology (e.g. mActive-SMOKE), and biomarkers of subclinical cardiovascular injury. He has earned his MPH degree from Yale School of Public Health in Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology, where his research focus was on obesity prevention and novel anticoagulants.

Stacey Konkle, MPH, CPH
University of Louisville
Project: Analysis of Urinary Tobacco Smoke Metabolites and Cardiovascular Harm Indices
Stacey Konkle is a second year Epidemiology PhD student in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences at the University of Louisville. Stacey’s graduate work at the Institute of Molecular Cardiology, where she works in Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar’s group, focuses on tobacco regulatory science. Her current investigation aims to associate urinary tobacco smoke metabolites with indicators of cardiovascular risk, among a large complex survey study population. 

Marina Malovichko, PhD
University of Louisville
Project: Biomarkers of Cardiovascular Toxicity of Tobacco Products

Marina Malovichko obtained her graduate degree at Department of Chemistry, University of Louisville, where she studied the activation and regulation of thrombin.  As a postdoctoral fellow, at the Institute of Molecular Cardiology, University of Louisville, she is studying the cardiovascular effects of tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, oral tobacco and mainstream cigarette smoke.  She is examining the early, sensitive and robust biomarkers of the cardiovascular toxicity and biomarkers of exposure.

Wendy White, PhD
Jackson Heart Study
Project: Renal Decline in Menthol vs Non Menthol Cigarette Smokers

Wendy White currently serves as Deputy Director of the Jackson Heart Study Undergraduate Training and Education Center at Tougaloo College.  She became interested in health disparities and smoking while completing her PHD in Environmental Science at Jackson State University.  Her research interests include smoking, menthol cigarette use and health effects, and lung function. 

Past A-TRAC Fellows


Adejare Atanda, BDS, MPH Candidate
Johns Hopkins University

Adejare Atanda holds a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from University of Ibadan in Nigeria and will soon complete his MPH at Johns Hopkins. His present work evaluates the efficacy of an LGBT directed quit smoking intervention at Chase Brexton’s Health Services addiction treatment center. Additionally, he is using 2011/2012 NHANES data to examine the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in LGBT populations as compared to the general US population and how these translate into an increased cardiovascular disease risk. He hopes to pursue a PhD in Epidemiology with a focus on tobacco use and non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases) in hidden & underserved populations.

 Hoda Magid, MHS
Johns Hopkins University
Project Title: Alternate Tobacco Product Use in Patients Admitted with Myocardial Infarction

Hoda Magid is an MHS candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studying Epidemiology. Her research interests lie at the intersection between Environmental Epidemiology and Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology. Among other projects, she is currently a research assistant with JHU’s Institute for Global Tobacco Control working on two tobacco control projects in Russia, Turkey, and Egypt. She is excited to be working on Project 2 as an A-TRAC fellow.

 Iris Zeller, MD, PhD
University of Louisville
Project Title: Endothelial Toxicity of Tobacco Constituents

Iris Zeller studied Medicine at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, where she also obtained her PhD in cardiovascular toxicology. She then moved to the U.S. to study the effects of cigarette smoking on the periodontal pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis, during a postdoctoral position at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. Currently, she is studying animal models of tobacco regulatory science at the University of Louisville in the lab of Dr. Sanjay Srivastava as an A-TRAC trainee.