Junior faculty members receive awards to support research

Mahasin MujahidAssistant professors Julianna Deardorff and Mahasin Mujahid have each received Hellman Junior Faculty Awards from UC Berkeley. Established by F. Warren Hellman in 1995, the purpose of the Hellman Fellows Fund is to support substantially the research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their research. The awardees are chosen by the Chancellor and panel of faculty members. 

Julianna DeardorffDeardorff, who holds the King Sweesy and Robert Womack Endowed Chair in Medical Science and Public Health, teaches in the Maternal and Child Health program. Her research focuses on pubertal development, adolescent sexuality and reproductive health, and mental health of children and teens. The Hellman award will support her study, Early Adversity Exposure and Mexican American Adolescents' Pubertal Development, Sexual Risk-Taking Behaviors and Substance Use.

“These funds build on Professor Brenda Eskenazi's prospective cohort study (CHAMACOS) to begin to examine whether and how early life adversity 'gets under the skin' to influence pubertal timing, stress reactivity, and adolescent risk-taking behaviors among Mexican American youth in a farm worker community,” says Deardorff. “The study will add important information to the dearth of knowledge about adolescent health behaviors in this understudied population.”

Mujahid is in the Epidemiology program and holds the Martin Sisters Endowed Chair in Medical Research and Public Health. Her area of expertise is population health, particularly multi-level determinants of racial and ethnic health disparities, and neighborhood environments and cardiovascular health. Her study, The Influence of Neighborhood Environments on Management of Type II Diabetes, will examine neighborhood features in relation to diabetic management using data from the Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE), one of the largest, racially and ethnically diverse U.S. cohorts of diabetics in a managed health care system.

“Previous research has examined association between neighborhood environments and the development of type II diabetes, but no neighborhood studies have focused on management among diabetics,” says Mujahid. “Receipt of the Hellman Family Fund provides me with the necessary resources to conduct these efforts at a time when it is very difficult to successfully receive extramural research funds.”

When creating the Hellman Faculty Family Fund, Mr. Hellman observed that junior faculty members are often well-funded when first hired. Problems arise in 2-3 years when start-up funding is exhausted and before first grants are obtained. The Hellman Fund is designed to assist promising young faculty at this point in their careers.

Read more about the Hellman Fellows Fund

By Linda Anderberg