Grounded in multidisciplinary research

Vaccarino named Rollins Professor and Chair of Epidemiology

Viola Vaccarino specializes in the study of cardiovascular disease prevention and outcomes.

Viola Vaccarino specializes in the study of
cardiovascular disease prevention and outcomes.

Viola Vaccarino, an Emory expert in cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes, etiology, and relationships to stress, gender, and health disparities, joins the RSPH as Rollins Professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology.

Prior to her appointment, Vaccarino served as a professor in the School of Medicine's cardiology division and director of the Emory Program in Cardiovascular Outcomes Research and Epidemiology (EPICORE), with joint appointments in the RSPH and the Laney Graduate School. She will continue to hold faculty appointments in the medical and graduate schools.

Having a department chair grounded in public health and medicine underscores the growing importance of partnerships in and outside of Rollins. As director of EPICORE, Vaccarino led a multidisciplinary research group focused on clinical and population epidemiology, outcomes research, clinical trials, and translational research in CVD and related disciplines. She also directed the Emory Heart Center Information Services, the investigative resource arm of the Emory Cardiac Database, which is among the nation's first and largest computerized cardiovascular databases.


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"Dr. Vaccarino's success in collaborative research, particularly in cardiovascular disease, is of tremendous value to the Emory community," says RSPH Dean James Curran, a fellow epidemiologist. "She will help forge new partnerships for Rollins and aid our continued growth in mentorship and teaching as well as grant development."

Prior to joining Emory in 2000, Vaccarino taught at Yale, where she earned a doctorate in epidemiology. She received her medical degree and completed a doctorate and postdoctoral fellowship in nutrition toxicology at the University of Milan. She currently is a fellow of the American Heart Association (AHA), a member of the American Epidemiological Society, and a recipient of an Established Investigator Award from the AHA. She has more than 200 research articles to her credit.

Among them is a 2009 article in the Archives of Internal Medicine in which Vaccarino and her colleagues identified a measure of stress-induced blood flow to the heart that explains part of the connection between depression and heart disease. The researchers found that blood flow, as measured by the ability of small coronary vessels to dilate, was reduced in patients who suffered from depression. Their study of identical and fraternal twins, all male Vietnam-era veterans, was the first to examine the relationship between major depression and coronary blood flow.

In her new role as epidemiology chair at Rollins, Vaccarino will merge her scientific interests with the department's research strengths in CVD, cancer, women's and children's health, infectious disease, renal disease, HIV/AIDS, health and disease in correctional systems, genetics, social epidemiology, and public health preparedness. She also will lead recruitment of faculty and students.

Says Vaccarino of her new responsibilities, "I look forward to this amazing opportunity to broaden our efforts to predict, control, and prevent disease."

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