Dr. Quynh Nguyen Awarded $3.3M NIH Grant, Will Use Twitter Data to Characterize Racial Climate Across US

Dr. Quynh Nguyen Awarded $3.3M NIH Grant, Will Use Twitter Data to Characterize Racial Climate Across US

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Dr. Quynh Nguyen, an assistant professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, has received a $3.3 million RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Health for the project Risk and Strength: Determining the Impact of Area-Level Racial Bias and Protective Factors on Birth Outcomes.

Nguyen, who is a co-investigator on the project led by Dr. Thu Nguyen, said the grant will use data from Twitter to characterize the racial climate across the United States. 

“Racial discrimination is often studied as an individual-level experience, but we know that it is pervasive and has social-environmental components,” Nguyen said. “In the past, we have linked living in communities with higher racial hostility to a higher risk of adverse birth outcomes and cardiovascular disease.”

Although there is growing evidence for the role of area-level racial bias in explaining disparities like preterm birth and low birth weight, what is lacking are the “measures, methods, and findings to empirically evaluate its influence,” the abstract said.

The collaborative project, led by Dr. Thu Nguyen at the University of California, San Francisco, will use online and social media data and machine learning models to create two measures of area-level racial bias and make a research design to see if area-level racial bias impacts birth outcomes. 

The project will have an investigative team of experts in epidemiology, health disparities, machine learning, social media data, biostatistics and community-engaged research fields to help with the study.

The project has three aims, according to the abstract: “1) follow and observe changes in area-level racial bias and identify local and national race-related events during these time points; 2) determine the impact of changes in area-level racial bias on changes in adverse birth outcomes; 3) identify protective factors for adverse birth outcomes.”

The proposed study ultimately represents a “critical advancement in the investigation of racial disparities in birth outcomes,” the abstract said.

February 25, 2021


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