Jackson Heart Study appoints new director

September 25, 2021 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Dr. April Carson, an epidemiologist with a history of work focused on diabetes and cardiovascular disease research, is the next director of the Jackson Heart Study.

Beginning in 1998, the study is the largest and longest-running longitudinal study of cardiovascular health in African Americans. Around 5,300 Jackson-area participants are involved.

Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, it is a collaboration between the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson State University, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Carson, who began her position Sept. 20, was previously an associate professor of epidemiology and associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.


Carson succeeds Dr. Adolfo Correa, who served as director from 2016-2020, and Dr. Mario Sims, chief science officer who served as interim director in 2021.

Carson has extensive experience studying the effects of heart disease in African Americans. As an investigator in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, she looked at factors that contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease over adulthood.

She is the principal investigator of a CDC-funded project on county-level social determinants of health, diabetes and hypertension in the southeastern United States.

Carson earned a PhD in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship on cardiovascular disease epidemiology. She worked at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. and the Alabama Department of Mental Health before joining UAB. She will be a faculty member in the School of Medicine and John D. Bower School of Population Health at UMMC.

In a press release, Carson said one of her goals will be focusing on how the physicians can take what they’ve learned about cardiovascular health in the Jackson Heart Study and implement it in local communities.

“For example, there are programs that are effective for lowering blood pressure, but these have not been very successful when carried out in different community settings,” she said.