About the Social Sciences & Medicine Core

The primary goals of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Precision One Health (POH) initiative are: 
To provide individual patients with the right medical approach at the right time using advanced evidence-based –omics thereby providing optimal therapeutic and preventive care.

The POH rests upon three foundational Pillars: 

  • Pillar 1:  Pathogenesis and Diagnostics
  • Pillar 2:  Therapeutic Intervention
  • Pillar 3:  Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

The focus of Social Sciences and Medicine Core relates to POH Pillar 3.

The POH initiative has interactive and overlapping scientific 4 cores:

  • Translational Medicine
  • Systems Modeling and Data Analytics
  • Epidemiology and Disease Ecology
  • Social Sciences and Medicine

The mission of the Social Sciences and Medicine Core (SSMC) is to develop and deploy established and emerging validated methods for advancing the health and well-being of persons and communities in Georgia and beyond.

The SSMC will achieve its mission by building strong research and implementation collaborations within our core, across the other Precision One Health Cores, and across and beyond the University of Georgia.

The objectives of the SSMC are to conduct and disseminate research that advance the primary goals of Precision One Health. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Identifying models and best-practices for deploying advances in precision medicine.
  • Identifying, understanding, and mitigating against adverse consequences of social determinants of health on individuals, families, and communities.
  • Identifying, understanding, and mitigating against adverse (intended or unintended) consequences of human activity (e.g., policy, built environment, exposome) on the health of individuals and communities.

Proposed SSM Architecture

Regular Operations

Monthly Operations Meetings: SSM Core Faculty

1-hour monthly virtual meeting (day/time TBD)

Progress Update – victories and stuck points

  • Ongoing projects
  • Manuscript/presentation/etc.
  • Grants

Future plans

Monthly Working Meetings

  • Grant writing
  • Manuscript/Presentation
  • Pertinent updates from the field

Annual Seminar for faculty, graduate students, advanced undergraduate students

  • TBD Spring or Fall semester
  • 2-hour (longer) seminar with 20-minute talks from SSM Core and Affiliate faculty on current research, key advances in their respective fields.
  • To foster collaboration, SSM pledges intentionality in inviting speakers who are Core or Affiliate Faculty to other POH Cores

Interacting and Collaborating with POH Cores

The SSM will intentionally look to core and affiliate faculty in other POH cores as collaborators (e.g., co-investigators) for grant development and seminar presentation.  To keep apprised of work being done in the other Cores, during each quarter, will invite to our monthly Operations meeting, a faculty member (core leader or other) from another Core to provide the SSM with an overview of work being done in that Core (e.g., grants being conducted, developed, educational opportunities, etc.).  There are other ways to achieve the intent of this plan which is for all cores to be apprised regularly of their activities in the interest of the overarching goal of fostering fruitful collaborations while vaccinating against the development of academic silos.

Networking outside of SSM 

  • SSM Affiliate faculty invited to attend Monthly Operations and Working Meetings as appropriate for topic being covered.
  • SSM Core faculty seek opportunities for research collaborations across institutions to advance its research mission and aims, this includes but is not limited to institution University System of Georgia.  International collaborations are encouraged.
  • Seek opportunities for training collaborations across POH Cores, UGA broadly, and other institutions as appropriate.
  • The SSM will work to ensure that it is well-positioned for collaborations with the incoming UGA Medical School.

Core Faculty

Stephen Correia, Ph.D., ABPP-CN (Core Lead) is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist with extensive experience in research, teaching/mentoring, and clinical service delivery.  His research has been primarily in the areas of cerebral white matter imaging of in aging and dementia, psychometric refinement of neuropsychological tests, clinical trials of Alzheimer’s disease, and mentoring early investigators on development of new cognitive assessment technologies.

Dr. Correia joined UGA on August 1, 2022, as Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior in the College of Public Health.  His academic home is in the Institute of Gerontology (IoG); specifically in its Cognitive Aging Research and Education (CARE) Center.  He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on cognitive aging, mentors several undergraduate research students on CARE projects, and supervises clinical training of several neuropsychology-focused clinical psychology doctoral students.  He conducts dementia evaluations in the CARE Clinic and has taken the lead role in the administration and growth of this research-focused community-facing clinic.  He is active in community outreach about brain health and dementia awareness.  Dr. Correia serves on several doctoral dissertation and master’s theses committees and Masters of Public Health student projects.  He is closely involved in ongoing IoG projects and in grant writing.  He remains active in a research project at the Providence VA Medical Center (where he served from 2005-2005) in which he oversees cognitive safety for a first-in-human study of low-intensity focused ultrasound for intractable depression and anxiety.  Dr. Correia has a prominent role in the field of neuropsychology nationally.  Currently, he serves on the Steering Committee of the Minnesota 2022 Update Conference on Education and Training in Clinical Neuropsychology – a North American effort to revise training standards in the field for the next 10 years.

Jenay Beer, Ph.D. (Core Member) – bio coming soon

Niying Li, Ph.D., (Core Member) is a health services researcher whose research agenda concentrates on aging and chronic diseases. Her research areas also include family caregiving for dementia, health disparities among people with limited English proficiency, and medical law and ethics.

Dr. Li joined the UGA on August 1, 2023, as assistant professor in the Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy. She is also a faculty member of the Pharmaceutical Health Services, Outcomes, and Policy (PHSOP) PhD program in the College of Pharmacy. She teaches graduate courses in research design, and quasi-experimental methods. She mentors graduate students in research related to dementia caregivers. She is also an affiliate of the Hopkins Economics of Alzheimer’s Disease & Services (HEADS) Center, Johns Hopkins University.

Lorenzo Villa Zapata, Ph.D., (Core Member) was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia’s Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy in August 2023. His academic journey is highlighted by receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences with a focus on pharmaceutical economics, policy, and outcomes from the University of Arizona. Before joining UGA, Dr. Villa-Zapata played a pivotal role at Mercer University, where he led the Master of Science in Pharmacoeconomics and Health Outcomes program, and previously, as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Colorado, Denver’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

At UGA, Dr. Villa-Zapata directs the Pharmaceutical Health Services, Outcomes, and Policy (PHSOP) program, contributing significantly to the field through his teaching, research, and mentorship. He educates graduate students on the critical aspects of drug-drug interactions, and health technology assessment, focusing on optimizing healthcare outcomes and resource utilization.

Affiliate Faculty

We’re UGA Vet Med, and our

passion powers our commitment.