The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has announced April P. Carson, Ph.D., as the new director of the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) in September, 2021. The JHS is the nation’s largest and longest-running longitudinal study of cardiovascular health in African Americans, involving more than 5,300 participants in Jackson, Mississippi, since it began in 1998.

Dr. Carson has been a faculty member in the Department of Epidemiology at the UAB School of Public Health since 2009 and was appointed as the school’s inaugural Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2015. She has a long history of studying the disproportionate effects of disease in African Americans, focusing on identifying and addressing the root causes of disparities associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. During her tenure at UAB, Dr. Carson has been actively engaged in multiple cohort studies including the NHLBI-funded Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which looks at the factors that contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease over adulthood in African Americans and non-Hispanic white Americans. Carson has served as a member of the CARDIA study’s Publications and Presentations Committee and Laboratory Committee, and chair of its New Investigators Committee. In addition to her leadership experience with cohort studies, Dr. Carson has national scientific appointments including as a standing member of the NIH Science of Implementation in Health and Healthcare study section and a member of the American Heart Association Research Committee.

“While I feel a profound personal and professional loss in Dr. Carson’s departure from our school, I know that both Dr. Carson and the UAB School of Public Health will gain by this significant leadership opportunity with the Jackson Heart Study,” said Paul Erwin, M.D., DrPH, dean of the UAB School of Public Health. “It’s encouraging to see that UAB faculty are highly sought after for opportunities such as these. I invite our school to join me in thanking Dr. Carson for her many years of dedicated service as Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and her commitment as a scholar, teacher, and advisor as Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, and we wish her the best at the Jackson Heart Study.”

“I am grateful to have begun my faculty career here over a decade ago as my experience at UAB has been instrumental in shaping me into who I am today,” said Dr. April Carson. “I have been very fortunate to work with and learn from excellent leaders, research scientists, teachers, and students and I will always cherish my time at UAB. As I begin a new chapter as the Director of the Jackson Heart Study, I am excited and honored to be entrusted with this responsibility to build on the study’s storied foundation to train future scientists and public health professionals and improve cardiovascular health for generations to come.”

The Jackson Heart Study is the largest single-site, community-based epidemiologic investigation of environmental and genetic factors associated with cardiovascular disease among African Americans ever undertaken. and funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). In addition, the JHS conducts community education and outreach activities to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce disease risk burden, undergraduate- and graduate-level research training programs, and high school science and math enrichment programs to prepare and encourage underrepresented minority students to pursue biomedical careers. To read the full press release on this announcement from NHLBI, please visit the NHLBI's News and Events page.

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