What is hypertension and why we care
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke, and it causes other severe health conditions as well, such as peripheral vascular disease, renal impairments, retinal hemorrhage and visual impairment. More than 10 million individuals die worldwide every year due to hypertension — this is over 12% of all deaths! Almost one out of three adults in the world has hypertension. Despite the fact that there are several effective, low cost, low risk treatments for hypertension, less than 15% of the people who have hypertension have it under control. This can be due to a person being unaware of their condition (hypertension has no symptoms), maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle, not having access to medications, or being unable to afford them, or simply forgetting to take their medicines.
What we do
We are a diverse group of doctors, scientists, nutritionists and advocates who seek to improve the worldwide situation related to hypertension. We hope to provide research evidence that can influence policy and practice that improves hypertension screening, diagnosis and management. We hope to increase awareness of this condition and its treatment options in individuals, as well as for healthcare providers and those people in power positions within governments who can help institute policies that will reduce the burden of hypertension across the globe.
Who we are
Lawrence Appel, MD, MPH
Dr. Appel is Professor of Medicine with Joint Appointments in Epidemiology, International Health, and Nursing at Johns Hopkins. He is also the Director of the Welch Center for Epidemiology, Prevention and Clinical Research. His research has focused on preventing and controlling hypertension and its cardiovascular-kidney consequences. He has three lines of research: (1) controlled feeding studies, (2) behavioral intervention trials, that test novel strategies to accomplish lifestyle changes, and (3) cohort studies and trials related to chronic kidney disease and its consequences. He has been actively involved in nutrition policy making, with particular expertise on sodium, potassium, and dietary patterns.
Sara Benjamin-Neelon, PhD, JD, MPH, RD
Dr. Benjamin-Neelon is a Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society and Department of International Health, Human Nutrition Program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also an Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge School of Medicine in England. She is a registered dietitian and licensed attorney. Her research focuses on domestic and global chronic disease prevention, evaluation of policies to create healthier food environments, and community-based interventions to promote health in families with young children.
Tammy Brady, MD, PhD
Dr. Tammy Brady is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She specializes in pediatric hypertension and serves as the Medical Director of the Pediatric Hypertension Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In this role she also serves as the Medical Director of the ReNEW clinic, a multidisciplinary pediatric obesity hypertension clinic. Her research interests include pediatric hypertension; specifically, she is interested in improving the diagnosis of hypertension in children, in identifying risk factors for end organ damage among children with hypertension, and in testing interventions to lower blood pressure in children. She is an international expert on blood pressure measurement and device validation.
Rajeev Cherukupalli, PhD
Dr. Cherukupalli is an Assistant Scientist in the Department of Health Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is an economist with research and practice interests in public finance, health, development, labor markets and policy evaluation. He has advised ministries of finance and health and advocacy efforts to use fiscal policies to address the burden of noncommunicable diseases.
Jeanne B. Charleston, PhD
Dr. Charleston is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with a joint appointment in the School of Medicine. Her research is in the area of cardiovascular disease, community-based dietary and physical activity interventions, and recruitment and retention for clinical trials, with an emphasis on minority populations.
Yvonne Commodore-Mensah, PHD, MHS, RN, FAHA, FPCNA
Dr. Commodore-Mensah is a cardiovascular nurse epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Her research seeks to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease risk among Africans locally (United States) and globally (sub-Saharan Africa) through community-engaged research. Her research expertise includes immigrant health, global health, cardiovascular disease epidemiology, and social determinants of health.
Arlene Dalcin, RD
Ms. Dalcin is Research Associate in the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research. She is an experienced lifestyle interventionist who is adept at developing, tailoring, and testing practical, patient-oriented strategies to accomplish lifestyle change, particularly sodium reduction and weight control. She has a strong interest in health behavior modification and the social determinants of health.
Cheryl Dennison-Himmelfarb, PhD, RN
Dr. Cheryl Dennison-Himmelfarb is Associate Professor of Health Sciences Informatics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, as well as a clinician, researcher and nurse educator at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Her research focuses on patient safety and cardiovascular care. She serves as the deputy director of the Research Participant and Community Partnership Core of the Institute for Clinical Translational Research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Dennison-Himmelfarb’s current research bridges scientific research and clinical practice, and develops and tests interdisciplinary and health information technology-based approaches. Her work focuses on reducing system and provider barriers to the implementation of cardiovascular guidelines in acute, primary care and community settings
Megan Henry, MS, PhD
Dr. Henry is Research Associate in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Henry has a background in nutritional anthropology, and has worked on a variety international health projects including improving infant and young child feeding through the Bill & Melinda Gates-funded Alive & Thrive Initiative in Vietnam, and evaluating nutrition indicators for the USAID-funded Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program. Domestically, she has been involved in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in California, and Meals on Wheels for elders in New York City.
Xiao Hu, MHS
Ms. Hu is Research Data Analyst in the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research. Her work primarily focused on investigating risk factors and biomarkers for cardiovascular diseases in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Her research areas included physical function, proteomics, risk prediction and intervention evaluation.
Junishi Ishigama, MD, MPH, PhD
Dr Ishigama is Assistant Scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is a trained nephrologist and epidemiologist. His research focuses on the intersection between the epidemiology of chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.
Adam Koon, PhD
Dr. Koon is Assistant Scientist of International Heath at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His work focuses on understanding the forces that structure human behavior in the health policy process. Dr. Koon approaches policy as a contest of ideas, shaped by language and deeper value conflicts and applies these concepts to work on health financing, health workforce development, and the regulation of harmful consumer products.
Sherry (Hairong) Liu, MHS
Sherry Liu serves as a data coordinator at the Welch Center. She obtained her master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and has been a part of multiple research projects. With an enthusiasm for scientific inquiry, she relishes the intricacies of data analysis. Her research primarily concentrates on biomarkers in relation to heart disease.
Matti Marklund, PhD
Dr. Marklund is a Research Fellow in the Vascular Metabolic Group at The George Institute for Global Health. He completed postdoctoral training at the Department for Public Health and Caring Sciences, Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Uppsala University, Sweden. He has extensive knowledge on research design, statistical analysis and scientific writing. Dr. Marklund is experienced in development and validation of dietary biomarkers and their utilization in clinical trials and nutritional epidemiology.
Kunihiro Matsushita, Professor
Dr. Matsushita is Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine and a member of the Welch Center. He is a certified cardiologist of Japan and has expertise in risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and in applying epidemiological methods to create an evidence base to improve the treatment and prevention of CVD and its risk factors. He has also been investigating the associations among hypertension, kidney, diabetes, and CVD using several data sources such as the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, CKD-PC, and the Hispanic Community Health Study / Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL).
Edgar R. Miller, III, MD, PhD
Dr. Miller is Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with a joint appointment in Epidemiology in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is also a core faculty member of the Welch Center. His areas of clinical expertise include hypertension and internal medicine. He is an expert in non-pharmacological and pharmacologic therapies for hypertension. His current research includes clinical trials on the effects of dietary interventions on blood pressure and kidney disease and the effects of dietary interventions on hyperuricemia and gout.
Dinesh Neupane, PhD
Dr. Neupane will be Research Associate in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Global Health Research Center, Duke Kunshan University, China. He has extensive experience in population-based surveys, cardiovascular disease prevention, cluster randomized trials, systematic reviews, and qualitative studies. He led a cluster-randomized controlled trial that tested community-based management of hypertension involving female Community Health Volunteers in Nepal. He worked as a country leader for a nationwide blood pressure measurement campaign in Nepal, and as a commissioner for Lancet NCDI commission in Nepal and as a member of Global Burden of Disease collaborative group. He is a Research Fellow at the International Society of Hypertension.
Oluwabunmi Ogungbe, PhD, MPH, RN
Dr. Ogungbe is an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, with a goal of improving cardiometabolic outcomes among populations experiencing social marginalization. Through her research and collaborations, Dr. Ogungbe aims to 1) lead innovative digital and community-engaged interventions to improve hypertension control and advance cardiovascular health equity, 2) implement novel approaches to address underrepresentation in cardiovascular clinical trials, 3) leverage rich phenotypic epidemiologic datasets to assess multilevel determinants of cardiovascular health inequities, which will inform practical, scalable and sustainable interventions.
Chathurangi H. Pathiravasan, MS, PhD
Dr. Pathiravasan is currently serving as an assistant scientist in the Department of Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research interests span various areas, including mobile health (mHealth) applications, digital phenotypes for cardiovascular disease, longitudinal trajectory modeling, computational statistics, and machine learning. Primarily, she dedicates her efforts to offering statistical consultation within the Johns Hopkins Biostatistics Center. She serves as the lead biostatistician on various projects, contributing to the successful development of grant applications for clinical trials and observational studies.
Krishna Rao, PhD
Dr. Rao is Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health whose research focuses on health systems in low and middle-income countries. He is a health economist with interest in health care financing, human resources, quality of care, and primary health care. His research work has covered several countries in South Asia, and Latin America. He teaches two graduate level courses - Financing Health Care for Universal Health Coverage; and Health and Economic Development.
Carol Resnick, BA
Ms. Resnick is Research Associate in the Department of Epidemiology of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has supported multiple faculty members on a variety of research projects. She has organized community and faculty advisory boards, been project manager of community based research projects, and manager for multiple large federal and non-federal grants. She has worked with faculty and trainees from Brazil, Mongolia and Mexico.
Kristin Riekert, PhD
Dr. Kristin Riekert is Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine She is leading intervention trials focused on improving adherence and health outcomes in cystic fibrosis, asthma, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease and secondhand smoke reduction. Hers primary areas of research interest are: psychosocial predictors of adherence in adolescents and young adults with chronic illnesses, measurement of adherence, development of culturally and developmentally appropriate interventions to improve adherence. She works to improve healthcare quality and delivery, particularly among underserved and disadvantaged populations.
Steve Tamplin, MSE
Mr. Tamplin is Associate Scientist in the Department of Health Behavior and Society. His effort is primarily focused on tobacco control through the Center for Global Health and the Institute for Global Tobacco Control. He is an experienced professional in tobacco control, environmental health and environmental engineering, and currently oversees leadership and research capacity building efforts at the Institute for Global Tobacco Control. He has vast experience in designing and implementing training programs throughout the world.
Di Zhao, MHS, PhD
Dr. Zhao is Research Associate in the department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg of Public Health. Her work has been focused on glaucoma screening, and gender differences in cardiovascular disease. She also developed novel algorithms for glaucoma screening and organizing a large-scale glaucoma screening campaign in local communities in the Baltimore area. She has substantial research experience in analyzing observational and clinical studies using various epidemiological methodologies, as well as in the organization and management of large cohort databases.
Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH
Dr. Anderson is Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. She is a member of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Prevention Center of Excellence, as well as the Health Behavior Changes in Underserved and Vulnerable Populations Center of Excellence. Her research focuses on nutrition and chronic disease prevention, as well as cardiovascular disease epidemiology.
Kathryn Foti, PhD, MPH
Dr. Foti is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She holds an MPH in chronic disease epidemiology from the Yale School of Public Health and a PhD in cardiovascular disease epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship. Her research focuses on monitoring and improving the prevention and control of hypertension and elimination of disparities domestically and globally. Dr. Foti also previously worked for 8 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including 5 years as a Special Assistant to the CDC Director, where she helped launch the Million Hearts initiative.
Neha Khandpur, ScD, MSc
Dr. Khandpur is an Assistant Professor at the Division of Human Nutrition and Health, at Wageningen University (the Netherlands), and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Health (US) and the University of São Paulo (Brazil). Her research focuses on understanding the link between ultra-processed dietary patterns and cardiometabolic health, and on implementing and evaluating strategies to support healthy food choices.
Lyn Steffen, PhD, MPH, RD
Dr. Steffen is Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She has expertise in nutrition epidemiology and cardiovascular disease epidemiology. Her research focuses on diet assessment, diet patterns, and cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, the Coronary Artery Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study and the Multi-Ethnic Study in Atherosclerosis (MESA). Recently, she completed a landmark study on dietary sources of sodium in the US.
Tasfia Hussain - Graduate Student, Department of Epidemiology
Alexandra Richter, MPH - PhD Student, Department of Health, Behavior and Society