The Accelerating Excellence In Translational Science (AXIS)Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
RESEARCHER SPOTLIGHT



Dr. Sheba George

Since coming to CDU in 2003, Sheba M. George, Ph.D, has been committed to support health education and conduct research in the context of community service, particularly for underserved groups. From her early dissertation work studying Indian immigrant nurses, to more recent work exploring perceptions of telemedicine and other technologies, Dr. George has addressed many research questions concerned with how sociocultural factors such as race, class, and gender inequities intersect with and affect health disparities. Her current focus is on the study of health communication and health literacy among multicultural populations, particularly how innovative health information technologies can improve health communication, since such technologies are increasingly being used in health care and more readily available to patients via smart phones.

Dr. George completed her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Pomona College in Claremont, CA. She continued to earn M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. She then completed a National Institute of Mental Health Fellowship from the University of California at Los Angeles, focusing on the needs of those with HIV/AIDS. She is currently an Assistant Professor at CDU, as well as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, in the department of Community Health Sciences.

One issue of importance to Dr. George is increasing the participation of ethnic and racial minorities in research. She notes, “Despite a series of national level initiatives in the past two decades, racial and ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in clinical research. Commonly used methods of informing minority populations about clinical research have not adequately improved their participation in clinical trials.” Research has shown that populations with limited literacy skills are often more open to visual media; thus Dr. George and her team worked to develop an animated video intended to enhance literacy about health research for low-income multicultural communities of color. The video, entitled, “What is Health Research,” addresses the most prevalent barriers and motivators for research as identified in the scientific literature, and can be viewed in both English and Spanish at http://axis.cdrewu.edu/what_is_health_research.

Many of Dr. George’s interests address the use of health information technologies, specifically how these are mediated by social and cultural variables. Urban, underserved populations face specific issues in the use of health information technologies such as electronic health records, telemedicine, and mobile technologies. For example, in a recent paper published in Annual Symposium Proceedings, Dr. George and colleagues looked at texting behaviors in young minority men who have sex with men, considering implications of their findings for future sexual health interventions.

Recently Dr. George began work on a grant with the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research, and Training (AANCART), to help provide outreach to this community and promote evidence based interventions. Dr. George explains, “Currently, very little research has investigated cancer information seeking strategies of Asian Americans, particularly online. It is very important to uncover the barriers and facilitators to their ability to find, understand, evaluate, and use accurate and timely cancer information.”

Along with many other university and community contributions, Dr. George is a member of the Internal Advisory Committee for the CDU Accelerating Excellence in Translational Sciences (AXIS) Grant, Vice-Chair of the Academic Senate Research Committee, as well as a member of the Faculty Executive Board of the College of Medicine. She is also Co-Cluster Leader of the Community Engagement Cluster of a national network of Research Centers in Minority Institutions with the goal of promoting community engaged research collaborations across institutions. She has served as a reviewer for several scholarly journals and grants.

In addition to many peer-reviewed research articles, Dr. George is the co-author of Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections and Imaginations in a Postmodern World. Her sole-authored second book, based on her dissertation work, is titled When Women Come First: Gender and Class in Transnational Migration, and was recently translated into Japanese for use in academic institutions in Japan. Several of her papers have been nominated or selected for awards, and she has also received the Distinguished Paper Reviewer Award from the American Medical Informatics Association.

Dr. George speaks well of her experiences working at Charles Drew University: “Working with students and colleagues at Charles Drew has been a tremendously stimulating experience for me. Despite the many challenges CDU has faced over the years, what remains constant is the dedication of the faculty and staff I work with and the eagerness and enthusiasm of the students that I have mentored.”