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New Professor to Launch School of Health Sciences Research Group
Alvin Tran, Sc.D., MPH, who will begin teaching at the University of New Haven this fall, is a former health reporter whose research focuses on body image, disordered eating behaviors, and health policy – issues that will be the focus of one of the University’s newest initiatives.
August 5, 2019
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Alvin Tran, Sc.D., MPH, still remembers how frightening it was when any of his family members – especially his younger siblings – got sick, because they worried about the costs of doctor visits and treatment. He says being among the millions of Americans who were medically uninsured at the time fueled his passion for tackling the healthcare issues that many people continue to face.
A researcher who endeavors to inform future policies and programs that will improve access to healthcare, Dr. Tran is especially interested in body image, disordered eating behaviors, minority heath, and health policy.
"Racial, ethnic, and sexual minority individuals often have elevated rates of adverse health outcomes – from heart disease and various types of cancer to disordered eating behaviors," said Dr. Tran. "My research aims to highlight why these health disparities exist and how public health officials and policymakers can effectively address them."
A new assistant professor of health administration and policy in the University’s School of Health Sciences, Dr. Tran will begin teaching health communication and public health courses this fall.
"I hope to create an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation between students, faculty, and staff at the University of New Haven."Alvin Tran, Sc.D., MPH
He will also be launching the WeEmbody Lab, a working group of public health professionals and students who will focus on the sociocultural factors associated with body image and disordered eating, as well as research around health policy, stigma, discrimination, racial and ethnic-minority health, and LGBTQ health. Members of the lab will meet on a biweekly basis to discuss and develop research, advocacy, and public health efforts focused on promoting health equity.
"I hope to create an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation between students, faculty, and staff at the University of New Haven," he says.
Dr. Tran is no stranger to advocacy work focused on eating disorder prevention, something takes great pride in. In Massachusetts, he testified in support of legislation that would prevent youth from accessing and misusing potentially harmful weight control and muscle building supplements. SPARK Boston, an initiative created by Mayor Marty Walsh, recognized Dr. Tran’s efforts in 2018 with an Impact award in Activism and Advocacy.
A former health reporter for Kaiser Health News in Washington, D.C., Dr. Tran’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, NPR, and on the PBS NewsHour.
"I believe that having a multidisciplinary team is key to addressing pertinent health issues afflicting our nation."Alvin Tran, Sc.D., MPH
"One of my fondest memories was attending President Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address as a member of the press," he said.
Dr. Tran comes to the University of New Haven from the Yale School of Medicine, where he has trained as a postdoctoral associate for the past year. He was part of the play2PREVENT Lab, which conducts research to develop innovative media-based interventions – such as video games – to promote healthier behaviors among teens.
Before moving to Connecticut, Dr. Tran lived in Boston for five years while he pursued his Doctor of Science in public health nutrition and social and behavioral sciences at Harvard University. A graduate of Emory University’s Master of Public Health program, he received Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Washington.
Dr. Tran is now looking forward to making an impact at the University of New Haven, and he is especially excited about the opportunities for collaboration.
"My best work has always involved the input of faculty, staff, students, and also members of the general public," he said. "I believe that having a multidisciplinary team is key to addressing pertinent health issues afflicting our nation."