Study Institutions

The RURAL Cohort Study team has 16 member institutions made up of researchers across the nation.

These institutions include professionals in a variety of fields, all working to promote the health of your community. Each institution works as an important component, providing research answers, and community engagement for participants and community members.

Overview of the universities participating in the study


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
The RURAL Cohort Study is funded by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which provides global leadership in research, training, and education to prevent and treat heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.


Study Coordinating Center & Pulmonary Care - Boston University
The Study Coordinating Center (SCC) of the RURAL Cohort Study will be at the School of Medicine at Boston University under the leadership of principal investigator, Vasan Ramachandran, MD. The SCC will be responsible for overseeing the overall management of the study, including investigators, cores, and RURAL infrastructure. The SCC will also coordinate with the NHLBI project office and the various external monitoring boards and committees.

The Pulmonary Core of the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the School of Medicine at Boston University under the leadership of George O’Connor, MD along with his colleague, Hector Marquez, MD. The Pulmonary Core will be responsible for the measurements of minor and major spirometry, as well as the interpretation of lung CT image. abnormalities.


Recruitment & Retention Core & Alabama State - UAB
The Alabama State and Recruitment and Retention Core (RRC) of the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the School of Public Health at University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham under the leadership of Drs. Suzanne Judd and Shauntice Allen, as well as David Rhodes, RN. The UAB will be responsible for leading the RURAL Cohort Study efforts within the state of Alabama, including recruiting and examining participants in two counties. Additionally, the RRC will be responsible for the overall strategy of recruiting and retaining participants across the 4 states. The RRC will also lead participant follow-up surveillance and endpoint adjudication. Finally, the RRC will handle clinically actionable medical alerts, where UAB has expertise from its role in the REGARDS study.


Mississippi - The University of Mississippi Medical Center
The Mississippi Core of the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the University of Mississippi Medical Center under the leadership of Ervin Fox, MD, MPH, along with his colleague, Frances Henderson, RN, EdD. The core will be responsible for leading the effort within the state of Mississippi, including recruiting and examining participants in two counties in Mississippi.


Louisiana - Pennington Biomedical Research Center - LSU
The Louisiana Core of the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) at Louisiana State University under the leadership of Stephanie Broyles, PhD, along with her colleagues, Corby Martin, PhD, and Denise Holston, PhD of the LSU AgCenter. The core will be responsible for leading the effort within the state of Louisiana, including recruiting and examining participants in two parishes in Louisiana.


Kentucky - University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences
The Kentucky Core of the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the School of Public Health and Information Sciences at University of Louisville under the leadership of Stephanie Boone, PhD, MPH, along with her colleagues, Kathy Baumgartner, PhD, and Richard Baumgartner, PhD. The core will be responsible for leading the effort within the state of Kentucky, including recruiting and examining participants in four counties in Kentucky.


Imaging Core - LA BioMed, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University
The Imaging Core represents a collaboration between three institutes: the Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), the School of Medicine at Duke University, and Johns Hopkins University. The core will be led by Matthew Budoff, MD and Gerald Bloomfield, MD, along with their colleague, Michael Blaha, MD, MPH. The Imaging Core will be responsible for obtaining CT scans; storing and processing of medical images; and the management, transmission, storage, and access of images.


Biorepository & Assay Care - The University of Vermont
The Biorepository and Assay Core (BRAC) of the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the Larner College of Medicine at University of Vermont under the leadership of Russell Tracy, PhD, along with his colleagues, J. Peter Durda, PhD, and Elaine Cornell. The BRAC Core will be responsible for collecting and processing biological samples, measuring selected key metabolic and cardiovascular biomarkers, and storing samples for future research use.


mHealth Core - University of Massachusetts Medical School, Johns Hopkins University
The mHealth Core represents a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. The core will be led by David McManus, MD, and Michael Blaha, MD, MPH, along with their colleague, Jomol Mathew, PhD. The mHealth Core will be responsible for mobile technology development and deployment, as well as monitoring participants’ use of the wearable activity monitors.


Genomics Core - LA BioMed
The Genomics Core for the RURAL Cohort study will be led by the Institute for Translational Genomics and Population Sciences at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) under the leadership of Jerome Rotter, MD, along with his colleagues, Yii-Der Ida Chen, PhD, Xiuqing Gua, PhD, Henry Lin, MD, and Kent Taylor, PhD. The Genomics Core will be responsible for production of large scale genotype data, quality control, and statistical genetic analyses on RURAL participants.


Social Determinants Core - Berkeley University of California, Emory University
The Social Determinants Core represents a multi-institutional collaboration between the School of Public Health at University of California, Berkeley, and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. The core will be led by Mahasin Mujahid, PhD, along with her colleagues Viola Vaccarino, MD, MPH, Gene Brody, PhD, Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH, Joel Kaufman, MD, MPH, and Tené Lewis, PhD. The Social Determinants Core will be responsible for assessing multi-level contextual, psychological, social, and environmental determinants of health among participants.


ECG Reading Core - Wake Forest School of Medicine
The ECG Reading Core for the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the School of Medicine at Wake Forest University under the leadership of Elsayed Soliman, MD. The ECG Reading Core will be responsible for collecting digital ECG tracings using mobile electrocardiographs in the MEU, transmitting digital ECG tracings over a secure network, and storing data for research use.


Sampling Core - The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Sampling Core of the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the Gillings School of Global Public Health at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the leadership of Robert Agans, PhD, along with his colleague, William Kalsbeek, MPH, PhD. The Sampling Core will be responsible for designing the sampling strategy for the RURAL Cohort Study and ensuring the enrollment of participants across ten counties.


Statistical Data Coordinating Core - University of Pennsylvania
The Statistical and Data Coordinating Core (SDCC) for the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania under the leadership of Richard Landis, PhD, along with his colleague, Qi Long, PhD. The SDCC will be responsible for data collection, processing, and analysis for multidisciplinary research projects across the cores, working groups, and repositories. In addition, they will provide operational support and training to each RURAL Cohort Study site for implementing protocols, quality assurance, and control. The SDCC will also provide biostatistical support and methodological innovation.


Ethics Advisory Board - National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
The Ethics Advisory Board (EAB) is responsible for ensuring the RURAL Cohort Study is performed ethically and participants’ rights are respected. The EAB will review the RURAL Cohort Study’s research plans, informed consent process, possible conflicts of interest, plans for returning medical alerts to participants, and changes to study protocols. The RURAL Cohort Study is excited to partner with participants and their communities so they will benefit from the study.


Community Collaboration Core - University of Virginia
The Community Collaboration Core (CCC) of the RURAL Cohort Study will be led by the School of Medicine at University of Virginia under the leadership of Paul Targonski, MD, PhD. The CCC core will be responsible for participant recruitment and retention, community partnerships, and training the Community Health Workers (CHWs) that will work across the 4 states. This core will also be in charge of sharing results with participants and the community.