The Center for Health Disparities Research at the Medical University of South Carolina is focused on eliminating racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and rural/urban disparities in health.
through excellence in all phases of our work and continually improving our programs and practices based on new knowledge.
to communities through development of health interventions that are effective and practical in the real world.
Work by the MUSC Center for Health Disparities Research (CHDR) is supported by a more than a dozen dedicated staff members who are available to assist the investigators of CHDR.
Meet the members of our research staff.
Cheryl Lynch, M.D., MPH
Dr. Cheryl Lynch joined the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in September 2008. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, and earned her medical degree from Boston University in 2001. Her graduate medical training was an internal/women's health residency at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. Dr. Lynch also obtained a Master of Public Health in Health Education from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health. She held an initial appointment as Instructor of Medicine during her fellowship training in clinical research and aging research at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Lynch has an interest in obesity-related research with interventions that target changing health behaviors. A crucial part of her work involves community-based research using qualitative research methods. Her primary research focuses on health disparities, particularly in the African American community. Dr. Lynch's clinical interests remain in women's health, obesity and related conditions, and working with aging populations.
Joni Strom Williams, M.D., MPH
Dr. Joni S. Williams is an Assistant Professor in the MUSC Center for Health Disparities Research (CHDR) in the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. Dr. Williams completed her undergraduate education at the University of South Carolina and obtained a Master of Public Health at Drexel University. She graduated from MUSC School of Medicine in 2012. Her research centers on the improvement of health disparities among 1) minority populations, especially African Americans 2) rural residents and 3) women as it relates to diabetes-related outcomes.
Rebekah Walker, Ph.D.
Rebekah Walker is an Assistant Professor with CHDR and a Research Health Scientist with the Charleston VA Health Equity and Rural Outreach Innovation Center (HEROIC) at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. She oversees the administrative implementation of the Center of Innovation (COIN) and serves as a liaison with CHDR. Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, her Masters of Science from Nova Southeastern University, and her Ph.D. from MUSC in Health and Rehabilitation Science in the Health Services track. Her main area of interest is interventions to address the social determinants of health in patients with diabetes. She also has a strong interest in global health in the area of non-communicable diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dawn Dericke, RN
Dawn Dericke joined MUSC as a registered nurse for the MUSC Center for Health Disparities Research (CHDR) in September 2014. Dawn was born in Massachusetts and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She studied life sciences at Penn State University and went to nursing school at Horry Georgetown Technical College. Her clinical research interests include health behavior and health disparities research with special emphasis on integrative health and vulnerable populations.
Caroline Wallinger, RN
Caroline Wallinger received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from MUSC in 2012. Nursing is a second career for her after spending almost 10 years in the publishing industry. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a Bachelor of Science in Media Arts from the University of South Carolina. She spent two years in Charleston as editor of House Calls magazine and assistant editor of Charleston magazine, followed by six years working for National Geographic magazine in Washington, DC. She enjoys working for CHDR because she believes preventive health and managing chronic disease are the keys to controlling the ever-increasing costs of health care while enabling more people to enjoy a better quality of life.
Kinfe Bishu, PhD
Kinfe G. Bishu has a background in economics and works as a Biostatistician in the MUSC Center for Health Disparities Research (CHDR). He is working on national data sets, such as Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), with a focus in health care outcomes research in racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities. His technical skills include data management, STATA/LIMDEP, survey design programming, discrete choice models, censored regression models, multi-response models, count data and general linear models, sample selection, multivariate methods and impact evaluation methods. As part of the team, he is participating in writing manuscripts.
Delia Voronca, MS
Originally from Romania, Delia Voronca came to the US in 2006 to teach high school math, and after three years of teaching, decided to further her education. In 2009, Delia was accepted into the master’s program in mathematics and statistics at College of Charleston, and in 2011, she enrolled into the biostatistics PhD program at MUSC. During her second year of the PhD program, she became part of the CHDR team where she works as a part-time biostatistician.
Aprill Dawson, MPH
Aprill Dawson earned her Bachelor of Science from Xavier University of Louisiana, where she majored in biology pre-medicine and double-minored in chemistry and Spanish. She went on to earn her Master of Public Health with a concentration in International Maternal and Child Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Ms. Dawson has always been passionate about working with minority and vulnerable populations. Her past research experience includes working with Dr. Yan Huang of MUSC on cellular apoptosis, and working on smoking cessation and cancer prevention studies at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in the Department of Health Disparities Research.
Kathryn Hurt received her Bachelor of Arts from the College of Charleston, majoring in public health. Her interest in health disparities rose from her interim work with MUSC’s Project Diabetes following her bachelor’s degree. Other interests include global health, equality in health care and chronic diseases, specifically those prominent in the Lowcountry. She feels having the opportunity to work in research is an active step forward in discovering solutions to health disparities.