Next Generation Researcher tackles social determinants of health

Asmi Panigrahi stands behind a podium and speaks into a microphone as she presents a lecture.
Asmi Panigrahi presents at the NIMHD Intramural Research Program Lecture Series.

Asmi Panigrahi came to the NIH as a medical student selected to the Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP), with a keen focus on domestic and global public health. Her background is mostly in environmental health and stem cell/regenerative medicine. She previously worked conducting respiratory health surveys among women in rural east India. Her overarching interest has always been in population and public health.

Although Panigrahi, a medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark, N.J., as part of MRSP needed to identify a research mentor who complemented her interests. Panigrahi emailed NIMHD Director Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable last year in August requesting a meeting to discuss potential mentorship and research in his lab. Considering his senior leadership position, she wasn’t sure he would respond.

Yet, Panigrahi was welcomed to Dr. Pérez-Stable’s Minority Health and Populations Experiencing Health Disparities Laboratory within the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). She hoped that during the year she could hone her research skills and ultimately learn how physicians can use robust research to build a platform to advocate for patients and optimize clinical care and public health.

“Asmi shows great promise as a next generation researcher. Her humanism, work ethic, and poise are reflective of this profession,” says Dr. Pérez-Stable.

In Dr. Pérez-Stable’s lab, she worked with Dr. Erik J. Rodriquez, epidemiologist and NHLBI staff scientist, on social determinants of health – exploring how neighborhood environment may influence preventive health behaviors and risks. The goal of the project was to determine how the influence of social cohesion and neighborhood problems could influence various health behaviors.

She discovered through her research that acculturation is an important factor related to cardiometabolic health among U.S. Hispanics/Latinos and may have a different influence on incident disease based on socioeconomic status.

Healthcare systems, providers and policymakers should recognize that the intersection of race/ethnicity, culture, and SES can play a role in the development of prevention and treatment strategies that influence Hispanic/Latino health and public health,” says Panigrahi.

Panigrahi, was recently selected out of 383 medical student entries to present at the 25th American College of Physicians Internal Medicine meeting in Philadelphia, Pa., April 11-13, 2019. She presented her clinical research, Influence of Individual-Level Neighborhood Factors on Health Promoting and Risk Behaviors in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL).

Upon her return to Newark this summer, Panigrahi will continue her studies as a senior medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Page updated Jan. 12, 2024