Dr. Natalie Chichetto joins the SHARC team as an assistant professor of epidemiology. Dr. Chichetto took some time to tell us about her career path and to share a glimpse of her life away from campus.
Tell us about your educational background.
2005-2009 Bachelor in Psychology and Trauma Studies at University of Missouri – St. Louis
2009-2011 Masters in Social Work and Research Specialization at Washington University in St. Louis
2012 – 2017 PhD in Epidemiology at University of Florida
2017 – 2019 NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship in Cardiovascular Epidemiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Tell us about your previous work/research experience.
I am a formally trained social worker and epidemiologist in the areas of alcohol use and cardiovascular diseases among underserved, vulnerable populations, with a focus on persons living with HIV (PWH). My primary focus as an epidemiologist is investigating the health implications of common behavioral health syndemics, particularly concurrent unhealthy alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and depressive symptoms. My primary career goal is to improve cardiovascular disease and other non-AIDS related conditions associated with behavioral health conditions. I am specifically interested in bridging the gap between mechanistic research and implementation science by focusing on biologically-informed pathways (e.g. the gut microbiome) for interventions to reduce inflammation, and by extension end organ disease (e.g., CVD) in those with syndemic behavioral conditions.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to sew any chance I get, typically clothing for my kids. I find it extremely relaxing – even though I make tons of mistakes on most projects.
Do you have a favorite pet?
I have two dogs and they are both Italian Greyhounds (Cosmo, age 12; Knoxville, age 8). Cosmo is my favorite because he is geriatric and therefore calm. He has also been with me since I graduated college so he has seen it all and is very wise.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
Most people think I am an extrovert, but I am really an extroverted introvert. It takes quite a bit of energy for me to commit to social gatherings but once I am there I am very happy and engaged.
Who inspires you?
Everyone, in different ways and different seasons of my life. Right now, I am very inspired and energized by women and especially women of color with children who also work fulltime. It’s brings me energy to see so many women, whether in academia or not, really growing in their work and family life – despite all the competing pressures of “balance”.
If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?
I’m so boring with money. I would probably put college money away for the kids and invest the rest.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great” – Mark Twain.
Also, Run your own race.