NIEHS postdoctoral fellow Ketrell McWhorter, Ph.D., earned this year’s Marco Cabrera Poster Award at the Network of Minority Health Research Investigators (NMRI) meeting April 26-28 in Bethesda, Maryland. The award recognized the best poster presentation for translational research.
NMRI was launched in 2002 by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The group involves minority biomedical researchers studying the impact of health disparities in minority populations.
A key goal of the group is to highlight minority faculty members’ work, especially in the areas of diabetes, endocrinology, metabolism, digestive diseases, nutrition, and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases.
Health disparities in minority populations
McWhorter and her mentor, Chandra Jackson, Ph.D., are the first NIEHS researchers to focus specifically on minority health disparities in the new Social and Environmental Determinants of Health Equity Group. Jackson is the head of that group.
Epidemiologist Jackson researches racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in sleep health and chronic diseases, like diabetes. She recently won the Ernest E. Just Prize for her research on chronic diseases that disproportionately affect African Americans.
Chronic stress, sleep, and health outcomes
McWhorter is excited to be the first postdoc in Jackson’s lab and looks forward to incorporating sleep into her research. For example, she is planning to study disparities in the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and later-in-life health outcomes, and whether sleep plays a role in moderating that relationship.
"Am I seeing differences in sleep patterns in people who are more likely to have poor health outcomes?" she asked. "We'll need to look at the drivers of stress and social inequities that can play a fundamental role in poor health outcomes."
"I am elated that Ketrell has joined this health equity research program, and her recent award underscores the importance of the work," Jackson said.
McWhorter's winning poster featured her research on large-for-gestational age births (LGA), which are babies who weigh more than 90 percent of all babies at the same gestational age. Complications in LGA babies, many of whom are born to mothers with diabetes, include hypoglycemia, difficult delivery, and birth defects.
Although this most recent work is unpublished, McWhorter published related research last year in the American Journal of Perinatology.
Citation: Kawakita T, Bowers K, McWhorter KL, Rosen B, Adams M, Miodovnik M, Khoury JC. 2016. Characterizing gestational weight gain according to Institute of Medicine guidelines in women with type 1 diabetes mellitus: association with maternal and perinatal outcomes. Am J Perinatol 33(13):1266–1272.
(Wendy Anson, Ph.D., is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)