Maternal and Child Health

MCH Epidemiology Doctoral Training Program

About the MCH-Epi Training Program

The purpose of the MCH Epidemiology Doctoral Training Program is to address the need for increased leadership in the epidemiological analysis of MCH data through training doctoral-level students in a comprehensive and collaborative public health program, with a specialization in MCH epidemiology. It is designed to support two doctoral students per year. For more information about how to apply, please contact Dr. Kathleen O'Rourke


Anthony D. Panzera
PhD, 2014

Much of the burden due to chronic illness in the United States can be attributed to the healthiness of current behaviors as much as seminal events that we experience early in life. To make long term public health chance, we must start investing in primary prevention of chronic illnesses and their risk factors. I chose to focus on MCH to help relevant programs perform better, whether it be establishing better perinatal outcomes, ensuring better health environments for kids, or tailoring and creating access to health information and education for those in need. MCH is a field ripe with opportunities to address and hopefully dismantle persistent health disaprities in the U.S. and globally.

Recently, I analyzed national cross-sectional data examining associations between family-centered care and breastfeeding duration and exclusivity. Additionally, I aid the Center for Social Marketing at USF in a qualitative project examining potential social media solutiosn to enhance disease management of asthma among teenagers in the Tampa Bay area.

Though early in my program, I know that my dissertation topic will involve aspects of MCH, most likely issues surrounding infant and maternal morbidity. Currently I am interested in how systemic inefficiencies that affect health outcomes can be identified and ameliorated.

Through work with the Florida Prevention Research Center (PRC), I do research assistance with Community-Based Policy Making and Marketing. Currently, the PRC is demonstrating this planning framework to address childhood obesity through policy-level solutions in Lexington, KY.

Ideally, I would like to work in academia quantifying MCH disparities and identifying methods for addressing them, as well as alleviate health provider-level barriers from optimal MCH care, utilizing epidemiologic tools and community-based methods. Further, I would like to occupy a position where I help tailor national health policy that is dynamic, evidence-based and evolutionary. In these positions, I will work to ensure every child born in the U.S., regardless of demogaphic background and contemporaneous political climate, is given a healthy start.

ErikaManion Erika Manion
PhD, 2016

I believe mothers and children are the cornerstone for preventative measures in terms of health. Public health interventions in the prenatal period and in childhood are essential for a healthy population. Thus, I wanted to surround myself in an environment devoted to this concept. In addition, past research experiences in the field have developed my interest. This includes working with children living with HIV, babies exposed to HIV, and child maltreatment. In all of these instances, prevention is the key to healthy babies and children.

Presently, I am working on two research projects with colleagues at the University of Florida. The first is an epidemiological study of maternal factors associated with later child maltreatment within a family. The purpose is to understand if there are maternal factors that can be screened for in a physician’s office for prevention. In addition, I am involved in the HPV Oral Prevalence Investigation (HOP-IN Study), which screens women for oral HPV. The aim of this study is to identify the prevalence of oral HPV in a low-risk, female population and describe risk factors associated with oral HPV infection.

Before moving to Tampa, I was the study coordinator for the HOP-IN Study at the University of Florida. Prior to that, I was the captain of the undergraduate research team devoted to investigating the growth and body composition of children living with HIV. Both of these leadership experiences have opened my eyes to the full research process and the tools needed in order to succeed.

My future career goals include completing my PhD at USF with a dissertation focus in MCH. From there, I will explore post-doctoral fellowship opportunities in the area of MCH and possibly search for employment opportunities with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Florida Department of Health. My ultimate career goal is to teach and conduct research at a university with a focus in epidemiology and maternal and child health.