Kendra Schmid, PhD

Kendra Schmid, PhD

Faculty Highlight – Dr. Kendra Schmid teaches BIOS 823/CPH 653, Categorical Data Analysis. While this course is an MPH biostatistics concentration course, students in other programs also enroll. Dr. Schmid is developing an online section of the MPH biostatistics core course, BIOS 806/CPH 506, to be offered in spring 2013.

Dr. Schmid’s methodological research focuses on statistical shape analysis, and more specifically, on methods of describing, mapping, and matching shapes using landmark coordinates. As a biostatistician, she serves as a statistician for research projects across the UNMC campus. Additionally, she is a statistician for the Core Center for Communication Disorders at Boys Town National Research Hospital, where she provides statistical support for several research project grants funded by the National Institutes of Health and assists with the submission of new proposals.

Dr. Schmid was appointed the director of master’s programs in the College of Public Health (COPH) in June 2012, and she very much enjoys this role. She also serves as chair of the COPH Curriculum Committee and is an active member of several other COPH committees. External to campus, she is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Biocomputing and is the chapter representative to the American Statistical Association for the state of Nebraska.

Kendra Schmid, PhD, is an assistant professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Biostatistics.

Maha Farid

Maha Farid

Student Highlight – Maha Farid is a PhD candidate in the College of Public Health (COPH) Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health, in the toxicology track. Maha graduated from medical school in Egypt in 2001 and earned a master’s degree in in forensic medicine and toxicology in 2006. In 2008, Maha received a scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Egypt to pursue a PhD in toxicology. She began her PhD program in the COPH in August of 2008.

Maha has worked in the pulmonary research lab in Durham Research Center 2 under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Rennard since January 2009. Her PhD project focuses on the effect of cigarette smoking on lung fibroblasts and how that effect contributes to smoke-induced lung diseases, specifically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Maha received the Robert E. Kuhl Respiratory Disease Research Award at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in March 2011. She has had several publications and presented several posters at international conferences. Maha received a student travel grant to attend the annual meeting of the American College of Toxicology in November 2011 and November 2012. In addition, she received the Carruth J. Wagner Scholarship in Public Health in April 2012. Maha was the president of the COPH Student Association for the 2011-2012 academic year. After graduation, Maha will continue her academic training through postdoctoral research.

Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, PhD, Research on Mental Illness and Substance-Related Disorders


Spotlight on Research at COPH – Across the United States, two million persons with serious mental illnesses are booked into jails each year. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, about 40% of state prison and local jail inmates have substance use disorders, and 25% have substance use disorders with mental illness. There is a substantial overlap between the behavioral health and criminal justice systems. Dr. Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway and her research team worked with the Behavioral Health Division of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and county jail and state corrections systems to conduct a study to examine the characteristics of individuals with mental illness who have had criminal justice encounters, and the patterns of those encounters. The study found that half of adults who receive Nebraska’s behavioral health services in a community setting had been to jail at least once in five years. Substance abuse alone and in combination with mental illness appears to increase the risk for a criminal justice encounter. The study also found that about 70% of people in substance abuse treatment had been to jail or prison at least once in five years.

Mental illness and substance-related disorders are also over-represented in the homeless population. In 2011, at least 7,013 people experienced homelessness in Douglas, Sarpy, and Pottawattamie Counties. Our community trails the national rates of reductions in the homeless population in all respects except for homeless people who have mental illness and other disabling conditions. Scarce resources are a reality in our community’s future. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Department of Health and Human Services are increasingly pushing for human services systems to understand client/patient use patterns in order to achieve systemic outcomes. In the case of homelessness, the Homeless Emergency and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009 set forth system performance expectations that motivate communities to understand the return-on-investment of federal dollars. Dr. Watanabe-Galloway has been partnering with the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless to plan and conduct a study to investigate health care utilization patterns among chronically homeless adults and the impact of housing support services. The study was funded through the UNMC College of Public Health’s Mutual Fund Program and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013.

Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, PhD, is an associate professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Epidemiology.

“Sleep tight! Don’t let the bed bugs bite!”


Public Health Community Advisory – Over the last two years, bed bugs have increasingly been found in hotels, apartments, houses, shelters, cruise ships, buses, trains, airplanes, dorm rooms, schools, hospitals, and department stores. Bed bugs even invaded the New York Ritz Carlton Hotel in January 2012, showing that bed bugs know no boundaries regardless of income bracket. The cause for the rise in infestations remains unclear, but is likely due to bed bug populations developing resistance to pesticides, increased domestic and international travel aiding transport, and the increased use of wooden furniture that bed bugs can climb.

So why all the fuss? Although bed bugs are not known to spread disease, they are a nuisance whose bites may result in rashes. Bed bugs require blood to live, which they acquire by biting their sleeping victims, who often remain asleep. Bites may produce a wide variety of skin rashes on humans, but at least 30% of people show no signs of being bitten. In some cases couples report bed bugs only biting one person.

How to avoid being a blood meal. Ways to avoid becoming a bed bug meal include the following: thoroughly check hotel rooms or a new apartment, or used furniture or other items brought into your home. Inspect hotel beds before placing luggage in bedroom; check the seam of the mattress under the sheets and behind the headboard for bugs and dark reddish brown spots that are known to indicate the presence of bed bugs. Bed bugs don’t fly and are typically transported by humans or their belongings to new locations. Bed bugs stay close to their food source and are usually found within 15 feet of where people sleep, but they have been known to travel up to 100 feet in a day to find food. Upon returning from travel, launder clothing promptly and inspect luggage seams for stowaways. Placing clothing directly into a dryer on high for 10 to 20 minutes will often kill bed bugs.

Once bed bugs have been introduced to a home, they spread to neighboring bedrooms or apartments and can live more than six months between feedings. Getting rid of bed bugs is difficult but possible. Nonchemical treatment such as vacuuming, steam cleaning, laundering, and using mattress covers can be helpful but will not eliminate them. Chemical bed bug treatment should be carried out by a professional, and it requires multiple applications of more than one pesticide. A recent report showed the dangers of do-it-yourself chemical treatment for bed bugs, since more than 100 poisonings and a death have been associated with chemicals used to kill bed bugs. Although bed bugs have achieved newsworthy status, remember that while they may be unpleasant they do not spread disease. Photos and thorough information on inspecting and eradicating bed bug infestation can be found at:

University of Nebraska Extension

Center for Disease Control

This article was written by Shawn Gibbs, PhD, associate professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health, and the UNMC COPH associate dean for student affairs, and by John Lowe, MS, disaster exercise outreach coordinator in the UNMC COPH Center for Preparedness Education, and an instructor in the UNMC COPH Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health.

New Developments in the Fight to End HIV Infection


Public Health in the National News – The Food and Drug Administration approval of a pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is an exciting development in the fight to end HIV infection. The public health community working to prevent new infections now has another in a wide array of tools with which to prevent HIV transmission.

Clinical studies have shown those who start a PrEP regimen do not engage in behaviors that transmit HIV with any greater frequency than before using the drug. Despite this, some public health officials are concerned that some may engage in those behaviors more often if they are on a PrEP. Changing behavior is difficult; if someone is engaging in activities that have high potential for transmission of HIV and he or she is not likely to reduce or stop those behaviors in the near future, PrEP could be a life-saving option. For these reasons, it is important that anyone beginning a PrEP regimen also receive counseling and education around HIV prevention and be tested for HIV on a regular basis. A comprehensive approach to HIV prevention is the best scientifically justified prevention method recommended.

As with many newly approved treatments for HIV, PrEP regimens are not cheap—some estimate costs of up to $13,000 a year. It is unclear yet how insurance companies will handle the newly approved on-label use of the drug. While PrEP may be a great new tool in the HIV prevention specialist’s toolkit, it will likely not be available to many of those who most need it because of the cost. Policymakers and drug company marketers will need to take costs of the drug into account when determining how best to implement PrEP as part of a multipronged approach to HIV prevention in the United States.

For those who are good candidates for PrEP and can afford it, the once-a-day pill is not a magic bullet. PrEP doesn’t work for everyone and is not 100% effective, even when taken every day as directed. In addition, numerous side effects can interfere with daily quality of life. In addition, some major side effects could be life-threatening. It is important that those who are considering using PrEP get all the facts and be presented with all prevention options to determine what works best for them.

While we may soon be saying “HIV?! There’s a pill to prevent that,” we need to remember that prevention has never come in a magic bullet. We still need to carry out the multipronged approach to HIV prevention as outlined in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. We need to ensure that EVERYONE is included in our prevention efforts, not just those who can afford a pill and have the sociocultural support to take it every day.

This article was written by Christopher Fisher, PhD, assistant professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health. Dr. Fisher is also director of the Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative and chair of the APHA HIV/AIDS Section.