Global Health Professor Receives $20,000 Research Grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health


MACON – Dr. Chinekwu Obidoa, assistant professor of global health in Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts, recently received a $20,000 grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) to conduct a community-based HIV/AIDS study in Macon.

“This research by Dr. Obidoa will help us better understand HIV/AIDS in our community and prepare her for further research here in Macon and around the world,” said Dr. Lake Lambert, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Dr. Obidoa’s pilot study aims to explore the context of sexual risk-taking among youth in Macon. She will be collaborating with Mercer University School of Medicine faculty Dr. Harold Katner, professor and chief of the Infectious Disease Division, and Dr. Rafael Ponce Terashima, assistant professor of infectious diseases. Dr. Obidoa will also be working with a number of community-based organizations in Macon.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic in many groups here in Macon deserves urgent attention. This grant provides a special opportunity for me to contribute towards efforts addressing this critical health issue in Macon,” said Dr. Obidoa. “This community-based study allows me to do what I have not been able to do in previous studies – and that is to examine the social and spatial aspects of HIV/AIDS at the same time within an area. I am looking forward to learning about how social and spatial patterns intersect in the etiology of HIV/AIDS risk in Macon and truly hope that findings from our study will support ongoing HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention in Macon as well as in the greater Middle Georgia region.”

“The continued transmission of HIV remains a major problem throughout Georgia, but especially in the small urban and rural areas,” said Dr. Katner, a renowned HIV/AIDS researcher and physician with decades of experience in HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment in the state of Georgia. “Because of a lack of prevention education directed at those at most risk and directed at educating our youth about those behaviors that put them at the most risk, we are failing to control this epidemic. I am diagnosing patients as young as eighth-graders who have little understanding of how they were infected. I believe that Dr. Obidoa’s study will give us insight into the behaviors related to transmission of HIV as well as approaches to develop prevention programs to help curb this epidemic.”

The $20,000 grant is awarded by NIMH through the Research Education Institute for Diverse Scholars (REIDS) program. REIDS Institute is a partnership among Yale School of Nursing, the Institute for Community Research and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) at Yale. The REIDS program aims to increase the number of scholars from underrepresented racial, ethnic, disabled and economically disadvantaged groups who are successfully engaged in HIV/AIDS research with an emphasis on community-based and HIV disparities research. REIDS is unique for its focus on research that investigates the social determinants of HIV/AIDS.

The grant is awarded to early-career, post-doctoral or junior faculty and new investigators. Four new scholars are recruited each year, selected for their interest in community-based research and HIV disparities. Dr. Obidoa was chosen from a national recruitment exercise for scholars who meet these criteria. She joins the cohort of 2014 REIDS scholars and is the only researcher selected from the state of Georgia this year.

Dr. Obidoa joined the Mercer faculty in 2013. Her research interests include the spatial and social epidemiology of HIV/AIDS, both domestically and internationally, as well as local and global disparities in health, adolescent and emerging adulthood health, and the impact of globalization on health. She earned her Ph.D. in public health from the University of Connecticut and also holds master’s degrees in geography, public health and international studies.

For more information on the study, contact Dr. Obidoa at

Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​