Mercer Medical Student Awarded Research Fellowship


MACON — Shabnam Nourparvar, who just completed her first year at the Mercer University School of Medicine, has been awarded the 2010 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship from the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

The fellowship provides $5,000 to support her research from June through December working with sponsors Dr. John Boltri and Dr. Monique Davis-Smith of the Department of Family Medicine at the School of Medicine on the FAITH Works project: Families Actively Improving Their Health Works.

The FAITH Works project has the following goals:
• develop a family-based cardiovascular disease prevention program to be implemented in African-American churches that includes parents and children;
• evaluate the feasibility of implementing the program to prevent cardiovascular disease; and
• assess the effect of the program on weight, fasting glucose, exercise and diet. 

This study will determine the feasibility of implementing a church-based cardiovascular risk reduction program in African-American families at high risk for heart disease and its complications. If successful, this project has potential for wide dissemination and by improving the diet and physical activity of families will impact multiple generations with better health, according to Dr. Boltri.
Identifying at-risk individuals as a part of an ongoing program will encourage a lifestyle change of improved diet and exercise.  Individuals who implement these changes are likely to be at a much lower risk of complications from cardiovascular diseases.

This project will be implemented in Bibb County in two African-American churches. In each church, the children and the adult sessions will run concurrently.  The sessions will be delivered at each church by a team of health educators.  The two lifestyle interventions will be weight loss and increased exercise with an emphasis on healthy eating.  Overweight adults will be encouraged to lose seven percent of their body weight while gradually increasing their exercise to 150 minutes per week.  Children will be encouraged to exercise 60 minutes on most days and maintain a body mass index below 85 percent for their age range.
Nourparvar, a native of Roswell, graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2008 with a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology.

About Alpha Omega Alpha
Alpha Omega Alpha, founded in 1902, is dedicated to the belief in the profession of medicine that care will be improved for all by:
• recognizing high educational achievement;
• honoring gifted teaching;
• encouraging the development of leaders in academia and the community;
• supporting the ideals of humanism; and
• promoting service to others.

About Mercer University School of Medicine
Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. The School only accepts Georgia residents into its medical degree program. Students entering Mercer University School of Medicine will be graduated from a school that utilizes a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. In the fall of 2008, the University expanded its two-year clinical program at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah into a second full, four-year doctor of medicine program. The School also offers master’s degrees in public health, family therapy, family services and nurse anesthesia.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit