Newswise — Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has appointed Kristin Mmari, DrPH, MA, as a Bloomberg Associate Professor of American Health in the area of adolescent health in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health. This is an endowed position supported by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Mmari is an associate professor and serves as chair of the master’s programs in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health. Mmari focuses on cross-cultural research, qualitative methods and analysis, and program evaluation, with an emphasis on domestic and international adolescent populations. 

“Dr. Mmari is a creative and inspiring researcher who listens to young people about the challenges they are facing in their lives,” says Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM. “With this added support and well-deserved recognition, she will accelerate her work to advance their health and well-being.”

Mmari’s research in adolescent health has followed two often overlapping fronts: assessing contextual factors that influence adolescent health and evaluating adolescent health interventions. In both, she uses a mixed methods approach that combines innovative methods and technology—such as community mapping and Photovoice, where participants use photography to document issues of interest—to help understand the factors that influence adolescent health outcomes and programs.

She currently leads a four-year, million-dollar grant, funded by the Bloomberg School’s Support for Creative Integrated Basic and Applied Research (SCIBAR) initiative, to determine whether restoring vacant lots can mitigate health inequalities among disadvantaged adolescents, whose health and well-being are strongly influenced by neighborhood factors. She is also the principal investigator on a Bloomberg American Health Initiative grant exploring food insecurity among adolescents in Baltimore neighborhoods where many youth are disconnected from both school and work.

Mmari co-leads the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS), a 10-country study examining how gender norms and gender socialization shape very early adolescent relationships and health behaviors. She is currently involved in a GEAS sub-study investigating how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted health and well-being among early adolescents across six global sites. 

“Dr. Mmari’s enduring collaborations with youth and key community-based partners provide a model for co-creating and implementing sustainable solutions to promote the well-being of adolescents across the United States,” says Cynthia Minkovitz, MD, MPP, William H. Gates Sr. Chair of the Bloomberg School’s Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health.

Mmari has provided technical assistance to numerous domestic and international organizations over the past two decades and served as a consultant on several adolescent monitoring and evaluation projects, including U.S. Agency for International Development, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNICEF, World Health Organization, United Nations Population Fund, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Pathfinder International. She also works closely with area agencies, including the Maryland Department of Health, Baltimore City’s Department of Planning and Office of Sustainability, and the nonprofit Baltimore’s Promise. At the Bloomberg School, she is affiliated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, the Center for Adolescent Health, and the Center for Qualitative Studies in Health and Medicine.

“Dr. Mmari is a proven leader when it comes to improving adolescent health, and her insights and experience—and commitment to innovative research—are needed now more than ever,” says Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Mmari graduated with a BA in biology from St. Olaf College. She earned an MA in medical anthropology from Case Western Reserve University and a DrPH in adolescent reproductive health from Tulane University. “Dr. Mmari’s broad interests range from protecting the environmental to food insecurity,” says Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. “This endowed position will help her to ask more questions and find more answers.”

This professorship endowment is part of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, which is supporting 25 new endowed positions. The Initiative focuses on addressing major health challenges facing the nation, including obesity and the food system, environmental challenges, addiction and overdose, violence, and adolescent health.

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