Samaah Sullivan, PhD


Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health


BIRCWH Scholar: 2018 - 2020

Dr. Samaah Sullivan joined the Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University as an Instructor in July 2018. 

Samaah received her PhD in Epidemiology from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, School of Public Health in 2015, where she also earned a MPH.  Prior to her graduate training, Samaah received a BS in Biology and a BA in Anthropology, both in 2006, from Indiana University.  She completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship (2016-2018) in the Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, under the mentorship of Dr. Viola Vaccarino. During her postdoctoral trainingfunded by theT32 Multidisciplinary Research Training to Reducing Inequalities in Cardiovascular Health (METRIC), her research focused on understanding sex differences in mechanisms of psychosocial stress and disparities in cardiovascular outcomes among women.  She has a particular interest in understanding mechanisms of biological embedding of psychosocial stress and social disadvantage that mediate disparities in cardiovascular disease, especially among women, along the full pathway from the environmental to the cellular level such as : neighborhood environments and health; stress responses and physiological perturbations; inflammation; and stress related cellular response. 


BIRCWH Research 

Samaah joined the 2018 cohort of the Emory Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (K12-BIRCWH) program and was awarded funding for her research proposal entitled, “Sex Differences in Inflammatory Reactivity to Mental Stress and Progression of Vascular Dysfunction on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Risk.  Her K12 application seeks to understand sexual dimorphisms of cardiovascular physiology and biological effects of sex on mental stress and inflammatory and vascular reactivity with CVD outcomes.  The overall goal of this project is to examine whether inflammatory and microvascular reactivity to mental stress are associated with progression of vascular dysfunction and incidence of cardiovascular events among patients with underlying coronary artery disease, and to explore whether these effects are more powerful among women.  This research builds on her prior research which has shown that women have distinct vascular response mechanisms in relation to mental stress ischemia and that young women have higher basal and post-stress concentrations of inflammatory cytokines.  Understanding whether inflammatory and vascular reactivity to mental stress are related to the development of CVD risk is a critical task and one that will shed new light on treatment and prevention strategies for patients with coronary artery disease, especially women.  Inflammatory and vascular responses to stress may represent novel risk pathways for adverse outcomes among women with coronary artery disease.  As an early career investigator within the Department of Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health, her long-term career goal is to develop an independent research program in clinical and translational research on women’s health and sex differences with a focus on understanding mechanisms for cardiovascular disease.  Dr. Viola Vaccarino is Samaah’s primary mentor and Dr. Arshed Quyyumi is her co-mentor.