My long-term goal is to become an established independent bio-behavioral epidemiologist and to design, implement and analyze studies that combine genetic and non-genetic influences on behaviors that effect cancer and other health outcomes. My proposal builds upon my previous training in community psychology and quantitative methods, and outlines further training in genetics, epidemiology and analytic techniques. I have developed a comprehensive education and mentoring plan that will provide intensive instruction in these areas. My research builds upon an ongoing R01 (R01 CA105203-01;Spitz PI) that determines the relative influences of non-genetic and genetic factors in experimenting with cigarettes and nicotine dependence in 1,300 Mexican-American youth in the Houston metropolitan area. I will extend and enrich the data from the parent grant by assessing behavioral aspects of acculturation, sensation-seeking tendencies, participation in physical activities, and by completing additional genotyping on DRD2, DRD4, and the dopamine transporter gene. I focus on these polymorphisms because they are associated with sensation seeking, physical activity and smoking behaviors. These additional data will permit novel assessments of the potential moderating and/or mediating influences that acculturation and PA have on the relationship between experimenting with cigarettes and underlying behavioral- and genetic-based variations in sensation seeking. I also will examine the role of nicotinic cholinergic receptor genes that have been identified to be important in nicotine dependence among other populations to confirm this relationship in Mexican Americans. Among the adolescent participants enrolled in the parent study, my specific aims are to: 1) assess the independent effects of acculturation (linguistic and behavioral aspects) and sensation-seeking tendencies on experimentation with cigarettes and level of physical activity;2) determine if either acculturation or physical activity moderate the influence of sensation seeking on experimentation with cigarettes;and 3) explore how variants in selected candidate genes influence experimenting with cigarettes, physical activity, or both. The additional data collected in this K07 will enable me to focus on questions that can not currently be addressed in the parent R01, will lead to the generation of new hypotheses, and will enable a more thorough investigation of gene variants in the dopamine reward pathway. The additional data will be added to the data collected in the parent R01 to develop quantitative multivariate risk assessment models for psychosocial, contextual, and genetic susceptibility to identify high-risk adolescent subgroups. These findings will enable us in the longer term to develop more effective, culturally appropriate school- and community-based interventions to promote healthier lifestyles. Recently I have been recommended for promotion to Assistant Professor. I am confident that the net effect of the promotion and obtaining this fellowship will launch my career in cancer prevention.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Academic/Teacher Award (ATA) (K07)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Subcommittee G - Education (NCI)
Program Officer
Perkins, Susan N
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Budget End
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Fiscal Year
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University of Texas Health Science Center Houston
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
Zip Code
Shete, Sahil S; Wilkinson, Anna V (2017) Identifying demographic and psychosocial factors related to the escalation of smoking behavior among Mexican American adolescents. Prev Med 99:146-151
Wilkinson, Anna V; Miller, Erline E; Koehly, Laura M et al. (2017) Correlates of Physical Activity Differ by Sex and Country of Birth Among Mexican-Heritage Youth. J Immigr Minor Health 19:246-253
Goergen, Andrea F; Ashida, Sato; Skapinsky, Kaley et al. (2016) What You Don't Know: Improving Family Health History Knowledge among Multigenerational Families of Mexican Origin. Public Health Genomics 19:93-101
Carey, Felicia R; Singh, Gopal K; Brown 3rd, H Shelton et al. (2015) Educational outcomes associated with childhood obesity in the United States: cross-sectional results from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 12 Suppl 1:S3
Rajesh, Vandita; Diamond, Pamela M; Spitz, Margaret R et al. (2015) Smoking Initiation Among Mexican Heritage Youth and the Roles of Family Cohesion and Conflict. J Adolesc Health 57:24-30
Wilkinson, Anna V; Koehly, Laura M; Vandewater, Elizabeth A et al. (2015) Demographic, psychosocial, and genetic risk associated with smokeless tobacco use among Mexican heritage youth. BMC Med Genet 16:43
Bigman, Galya; Rajesh, Vandita; Koehly, Laura M et al. (2015) Family Cohesion and Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity Among Mexican Origin Adolescents: A Longitudinal Perspective. J Phys Act Health 12:1023-30
Wilkinson, Anna V; Vandewater, Elizabeth A; Carey, Felicia R et al. (2014) Exposure to pro-tobacco messages and smoking status among Mexican origin youth. J Immigr Minor Health 16:385-93
Wilkinson, Anna V; Vatcheva, Kristina P; PĂ©rez, Adriana et al. (2014) Anxiety, depression and smoking status among adults of Mexican heritage on the Texas-Mexico Border. Hisp J Behav Sci 36:316-328
Oluyomi, Abiodun O; Lee, Chanam; Nehme, Eileen et al. (2014) Parental safety concerns and active school commute: correlates across multiple domains in the home-to-school journey. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 11:32

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