Center for Interdisciplinary Population & Health Research

The Maine Cancer Genetics/Genomics Education Core (ME-CGEC) has been awarded funding for their Phase III Community Engagement project which will continue work done in Phases I and II. The team is using community-engaged research to develop and implement locally informed interventions to increase enrollment in the Cancer Moonshot Biobank among members of communities within the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network (MHCCN). PIs Sue Miesfeldt, MD, Clinician Investigator, Associate Professor of Medicine, and MMC Attending Physician, and Neil Korsen, MD, MHIR Physician Scientist in the Center for Interdisciplinary Population & Health Research, will lead the efforts.

Abby Fleisch, MD, MPH, Faculty Scientist in the Center for Interdisciplinary Population & Health Research at MHIR, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, and MMC Attending Physician in Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, continues her work researching the effects of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). She is an MPI with contact PI Emily Oken of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care on a five year R01 grant from NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. This study will investigate the impact of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) exposure across midlife and older age on (1) musculoskeletal health and (2) cardiovascular disease in older adults, and (3) the potential for lifestyle behaviors to mitigate these health impacts. The findings will inform PFAS legislation and health guidance for exposed individuals, with implications for musculoskeletal and cardiovascular risk reduction.

Welcome Dr. Cara Frankenfeld! Dr. Frankenfeld joined MHIR’s Center for Interdisciplinary Population & Health Research in August 2023. She comes to MHIR from the University of Puget Sound where she was an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and served as the Program Director for the inaugural Public Health Program. She holds a doctorate in Epidemiology and a master’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is an experienced epidemiologist and biostatistician with twenty years of work in the design and conduct of observational and clinical human health research studies, evidence synthesis, and scientific communication to diverse audiences. Her expertise is in research design and analysis of complex data, such as microbiome, metabolome, diet, and spatial factors. She has applied this expertise primarily to chronic health conditions, including cancer and cardiometabolic diseases. She has also provided biostatistical expertise to investigators working in geography and healthcare administration. Her work has been funded by the federal, academic, and private sources, and she is an Associate Editor for Annals of Epidemiology, and on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Nutrition.

Lisa Rokoff, CIPHR Staff Scientist, is a first author on a recently published article in the journal Science of the Total Environment that takes a closer look at PFAS, chemicals used in several consumer products, in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Dr. Rokoff and her team found that women with higher blood concentrations of specific PFAS were more likely to terminate breastfeeding earlier. This work corroborates prior studies in animals suggesting that PFAS may adversely impact the ability to produce human milk and thus successfully breastfeed, which is important to promote the health of both infant and mother. More research is needed, as it is hoped that this foundational work will guide the clinical care of people exposed to PFAS and inform PFAS-related health policies.