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Successful PhD Dissertation Defenses

Dr. Muneeza Esani and Dr. Zakoyya Lewis-Powell

Congratulations to two newly appointed PhD candidates that successfully defended their dissertations in Fall 2016.

Muneeza Esani, assistant professor in the Clinical Laboratory Science department will be getting her PhD in Clinical Science with the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at UTMB.

Esani's dissertation work was on Predictors and Outcomes of Pica,' which was supervised by Dr. Yong-Fang Kuo and was defended on November 30, 2016. Pica is a poorly understood eating disorder of chewing non-nutritional substances such as ice, dirt, corn starch, paint etc. Her study found that iron deficiency was the strongest predictor of pica in adults and children. Psychiatric disorders such as Autism Spectrum disorder, mood disorder and anxiety disorder were also strong predictors of pica. Pica is a public health concern due to significant outcomes such as hospitalizations, gastrointestinal disorders and infections, lead poisoning and fluid and electrolyte imbalances. It is important to screen patients for pica using laboratory tests such as hemoglobin and red cell distribution width which are predictors of pica

Zakoyya Lewis-Powell, PhD Candidate in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences, defended her dissertation on December 2, 2016.

Lewis-Powell's dissertation, "TAME health: Testing Activity Monitors' Effect on Health", was a 12-week, pragmatic, comparative effectiveness intervention. The study compared a basic pedometer and the Jawbone UP24 monitor to increase physical activity, decrease cardiovascular risk, increase motivation, and improve overall health among inactive, overweight and obese adults aged 55 to 74 years of age. The intervention took place within two UTMB primary care clinics in an effort to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of implementing the intervention within practice. The study found that the UP24 participants increased their physical activity by 11 minutes per day and were significantly more motivated to exercise after 12 weeks. There were no differences in cardiovascular risk but study participants and primary care stakeholders found the study the study feasible and flexible.