OU Public Health Faculty Awarded NIH Grant
Published: Friday, November 10, 2023
Amanda Janitz, Ph.D., MPH, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Hudson College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma, was awarded an approximate $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. This two-year developmental research grant is dedicated to a vital research study aimed at identifying barriers to COVID-19 testing and vaccination within American Indian or Alaska Native populations, with the ultimate goal of improving access to these essential services.
“The OU Hudson College of Public Health is extremely proud of Dr. Amanda Janitz for her exceptional dedication to public health research and her commitment to understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dale Bratzler, D.O., MPH, dean of the college.
“This NIH R21 grant reflects the caliber of expertise we have at the Hudson College of Public Health and the far-reaching impact the field of public health has upon improving the health and well-being of our communities.”
Janitz's research focuses on addressing the unique challenges faced by American Indian or Alaska Native populations and individuals with chronic health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. These communities faced higher risks due to the prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, chronic liver disease, chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, asthma and obesity. They also experienced higher rates of disruptions in health care access and services due to the pandemic’s strain on health care systems.
For this study, Janitz, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is collaborating with co-principal investigator Ashley Comiford, DrPH, an epidemiologist at Cherokee Nation Health Services. Together, they plan to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on American Indian or Alaska Native participants with chronic health conditions, changes in health care access and sociodemographic factors related to COVID-19 testing and vaccination uptake. The project's long-term goal is to identify and overcome barriers to COVID-19 testing and vaccination uptake among American Indian or Alaska Native individuals, especially those with chronic health conditions.
“The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted many vulnerable populations due to higher rates of chronic health conditions, creating a pressing need for research to inform public health strategies,” Janitz said. “My hope is that this study will provide the academic, research and medical communities with valuable insights that will reduce barriers to care and improve health outcomes among American Indian and Alaska Native communities throughout the state of Oklahoma and beyond.”
Janitz earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from OU in 2006. She earned her master of public health degree with a focus on epidemiology and her doctoral degree in philosophy of epidemiology in 2009 and 2015, respectively, both from the OU Hudson College of Public Health. That same year, she joined the Hudson College of Public Health faculty. In 2020, Janitz was awarded the Provost’s Research Award for Junior Faculty at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences.
About the University of Oklahoma Hudson College of Public Health
The OU Hudson College of Public Health is located within one of the nation's premier academic health centers, comprising seven professional colleges. Established in 1967, it stands as the sole accredited college of public health in Oklahoma. The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences serves over 4,000 students across more than 70 undergraduate and graduate degree programs on campuses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. As Oklahoma’s flagship comprehensive academic health system, it remains committed to education, research and patient care, shaping the future of health care.