Main Content


Leaders in research, research training, and graduate education

The UMMC-GTEC program faculty bring expertise in cardiovascular epidemiology and related research, health disparities, evidence-based approaches in research training, education, and coaching of diverse students and early-career faculty. We also bring a deep familiarity and history of engagement with colleges and universities in Mississippi, and state-of-the art research resources and infrastructure.

Our faculty and mentors are experienced investigators who have a strong and consistent track record of federal grant funding, peer-reviewed publications, graduate education, and passion for developing and coaching the next generation of biomedical scientists dedicated to improving the health of Mississippians through science. They are scientific and educational leaders at many of the leading research institutions in the nation, including those in Mississippi. UMMC-GTEC faculty have influenced the policy and practice of funding agencies, created new paradigms and conceptual frameworks, impacted legislation regarding health issues, and hold promise for leading change in treatment approaches for a range of vulnerable population groups.



Bettina M. Beech, DrPH, MPH, is founding dean and professor of Population Health Science at the John D. Bower School of Population Health. Dr. Beech is a population health scientist and a leading expert in pediatric cardiometabolic risk factors among African American and Hispanic youth, as well as the recruitment and retention of racial/ethnic minority populations in research studies. Dr. Beech is the Principal Investigator of UMMC-GTEC.

NorrisKeith C. Norris, MD, PhD, is professor of internal medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He is the former interim president and vice president of research at Drew University School of Medicine. Dr. Norris is a board-certified nephrologist and certified hypertension specialist with a distinguished record of translational and health disparities research focusing on renal and cardiovascular, including the African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension (AASK) and the AASK Cohort Study, the largest comparative drug intervention trial focusing on renal outcomes conducted in African Americans. AASK led to evidence-based treatment for African Americans with kidney disease and hypertension. Dr. Norris is the Co-Director of the UMMC-GTEC.

Core faculty and mentors

BruceMarino A. Bruce, PhD, MDiv, MSRC, MS, is research associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Health and Society, associate director of the Center for Research on Men’s Health, and director of the Program on Faith and Health at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Bruce is a sociologist with who examines the interaction between social circumstances, economic resources, psychological functioning, and health behaviors and their implications for chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease among African Americans. Dr. Bruce is Science Director for UMMC GTEC.

Elizabeth Heitman, PhD, is professor of ethics in science and medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Heitman is an internationally known educator in research ethics and responsible conduct of research whose research explores best practices in research ethics education, particularly for international and racial/ethnic minority students, fellows and early career faculty.

Roland Thorpe Jr. PhD, is associate professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. Dr. Thorpe is a social epidemiologist with substantial experience with conducting and analyzing observational study data and has generated a prolific body of research examining the influence of social determinants of health on the development of race- and SES-related disparities in health outcomes among of middle- to older age adults.

Program faculty

Ronny A. Bell, PhD, MS is chair and professor of public health at East Carolina University School of Medicine. Dr. Bell is an epidemiologist who has training in nutrition science and is counted among leading scientist conducting chronic disease epidemiologic research with racial and ethnic minority populations, especially Native Americans. 

Adolfo Correa, MD, MPH, is professor of medicine, pediatrics, and population health science at UMMC and serves as the director and PI for the Jackson Heart Study (JHS). Dr. Correa has conducted research as an epidemiologist in academia and the federal government over the past 25 years and has provided leadership to with diverse groups of investigators on the surveillance of chronic diseases and the development of research teams conducting research using epidemiologic data.