Our department has faculty with experience and expertise in many areas, including: age-related disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gene x environment interactions, infectious diseases, injury prevention, mind-body medicine, physical activity, suicide, systems biology, and travel safety.

Research Strengths

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Injury
  • Aging
  • Exercise
  • Gene-Environment interactions
  • Mind-body therapy
  • Maternal and Child Health


Baqiyyah Conway: Dr. Conway’s research interest is in the epidemiology of late diabetes complications, fractures in patients with diabetes, and racial disparities in diabetes complications. 

Kim Innes: Dr. Innes’ research focuses on the epidemiology, prevention and management of chronic, age-related conditions characterized by autonomic and metabolic dysregulation. Funded by grants from the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the NIH Office of Women’s Health, and the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, her current research includes clinical trials to assess the potential benefits of mind-body therapies for the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, restless legs syndrome (RLS), cognitive impairment, and other related conditions.  Additional research projects include population-based studies to  investigate the origins and sequelae of RLS in West Virginia adults; the biological and psychosocial determinants of memory loss; and the relation of specific environmental pollutants to the development of cancer, osteoarthritis, and other chronic, proinflammatory conditions.

Sarah Knox:  Dr. Knox’s research has focused on the complexity of behavioral and environmental determinants of chronic disease (CVD and cancer), including population genetics, systems biology, and environmental influences on gene expression.  Her current research builds on this complexity, this time applying the systems biology approach to integrate ‘omics’ and environmental influences on gene expression as they relate to cancer.

Ian Rockett: Ian Rockett’s research focuses on the epidemiology of injury and substance abuse. His primary interest is suicide data quality, and more particularly nonrandomness of undercounting. Current projects include a reconceptualization of self-injury mortality.

David Parker:  David Parker: Primary research interest includes infectious diseases, including HIV/STIs, and infectious diseases modeling methods including predictive modeling of risk. Additional areas include health care access and the overlap of health and inter/national security, including cybersecurity. 

Research Highlights:

Getting behind a steering wheel has been the most hotly anticipated rite of passage for most American teenagers (and a cause of insomnia among parents). All 50 states have implemented graduated driver’s licensing (GDL), requiring drivers under 18 to gain driving privileges in phases. Although previous studies had noted less young people were dying as a result of crashes, Dr. Zhu and his colleagues were the first to look at how the graduated licenses affect miles teens drive and their crash rates per miles driven. They found that graduated driver license laws reduced crashes by approximately 35 percent among 16-year-old drivers.  About half the reduction was due to fewer crashes per miles driven, and half to the fact that they simply drive less.