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Virmarie Correa-Fernandez, Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Instructor, Department of Health Disparities Research, Division of OVP, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Virmarie Correa-Fernandez, Ph.D., is currently an Instructor in the Department of Health Disparities Research (HDR) at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) .She completed her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology in Carlos Albizu University, San Juan, Puerto Rico (PR) in October 2003, and a Tobacco Treatment Specialist Certification at Mayo Clinic in 2005. She has ample training and experience in substance abuse treatment delivery including tobacco dependence. She played a key role in the development of PR's first individualized tobacco cessation clinic at the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, where she provided direct clinical interventions to low income smokers interested in quitting. In 2005, she joined the U54 Partnership for Excellence in Cancer Research between MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) and the UPR Comprehensive Cancer Center (UPRCC). She specifically participated in an Outreach Program for cancer prevention, and in a randomized clinical trial aimed to test the efficacy of a Motivational And Problem Solving (MAPS) approach to increase smoking cessation and reduce at-risk alcohol use among Puerto Ricans. In order to facilitate her transition from a clinical to a research path, Dr. Correa-Fernandez successfully applied for a CURE Diversity Supplement to the NCI Cancer Education and Career Development Program (R25T CA057730) at MDACC, which funded a Postdoctoral Fellowship at HDR, under the mentorship of Dr. David W. Wetter. Her research interests are to elucidate the mechanisms related to smoking cessation among individuals with mental health vulnerabilities (e.g depression,anxiety), which will ultimately lead to tailored treatment development and evaluation. In the long term, she aims at investigating the efficacy of evidence-based treatments for the co­-morbidity of tobacco dependence with non-nicotine substance use disorders and other mental health problems; and to inform and develop culturally competent interventions for Latino smokers with these comorbidities. Currently,Dr. Correa-Fernandez have 10 peer-reviewed publications (3 first-authored), have presented her research findings at local and national scientific conferences, have served as ad hoc reviewer of various journals in the field, and have received various awards and honors.

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1400 Pressler
Unit Number: 1440
Houston, TX 77030
Room Number: FCT9.6104

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

2003 Carlos Albizu University, San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico, PHD, Utmost Distinction, Clinical Psychology
2001 Carlos Albizu University, San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico, MS, Magna Cum Laude, Clinical Psychology
1997 University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, PR, Puerto Rico, BA, Magna Cum Laude, Psychology
1996 University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, (Junior Year), National Student Exchange Program

Postgraduate Training

2009-2013 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, National Cancer Institute, R25T CURE Diversity Supplement; Department of Health Disparities Research, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
2005 Postgraduate Training, Tobacco Treatment Specialist Certification, Nicotine Dependence Center, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
2002-2003 Clinical Internship, Clinical Psychology, Community Mental Health Clinic, Domestic Violence Program, Carlos Albizu University, San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico

Experience/Service

Academic Appointments

Research Assistant Professor (non-tenure), University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico, 3/2009-10/2009
Adjunct Professor, School of Dental Medicine, Medical Science Campus, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico, 8/2003-2/2009

Other Appointments/Responsibilities

Research Coordinator/Counselor, U54 Partners for Excellence in Cancer Research: University of Puerto Rico Cancer Center/MD Anderson Cancer Center (U54 CA96300); Project: Oral Cancer Risk Reduction through Combined Treatment for Tobacco & Alcohol Use; David W. Wetter & Elba C. Diaz (PIs), San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico, 2007-2008
Clinical Psychologist, Private Practice, San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico, 2005-2009
Research Coordinator, U54 Partners for Excellence in Cancer Research: University of Puerto Rico Cancer Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center (U54 CA96300); Project: Increasing the Utilization of the Puerto Rico Quitline through Outreach, David W. Wetter & Elba C. Diaz (PIs), San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico, 2004-2008
Clinical Psychologist, Tobacco Cessation Clinic, Center for the Prevention and Control of Tobacco Use and the Early Detection of Oral Cancer, School of Dental Medicine, Medical Science Campus, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico, 2003-2007
Case Manager/Therapist, San Juan Capestrano Psychiatric Hospital, Trujillo Alto, PR, Puerto Rico, 1997-2005

Consultantships

Clinical Psychologist Consultant, Residential Treatment for Adolescents, Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration, San Juan, PR, 2009

Institutional Committee Activities

Selection Committee Member, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Leading Mentor in Cancer Prevention Awards, 2011-2012

Honors and Awards

2013 Awardee, a Travel Award for the National Hispanic Science Network 13th International Scientific Conference: Shared Challenges and Opportunities for Achieving Health Equity with Ethnically Diverse Population, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
2012 Awardee, Researcher of the Year 2012, Behavioral Science Journal of Carlos Albizu University, San Juan, PR; Awarded at the Annual Convention of the Puerto Rican Psychological Association
2011 Awardee, Travel Scholarship to Increase Diversity in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco 2011 Conference
2011 Competitively selected to attend the Advanced Training Institute on Research Methods with Diverse Racial & Ethnic Groups, American Psychological Association
2009-2013 Fellow, R25T CURE Diversity Supplement, National Cancer Institute, Department of Health Disparities Research, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
2007 Competitively selected to participate in the Career Development Institute for Psychiatry: A Workshop on Launching and Maintaining a Career in Mental Health Research, Executive Committee: Drs. David Kupfer, Paul Pilkonis, & Alan Schatzberg, Stanford University, CA
2003 Distinguished Student Award, Philosophy Program in Clinical Psychology, Carlos Albizu University, San Juan, PR
2003 Utmost Distinction Honor, Carlos Albizu University
2001 Magna Cum Laude Graduate, Carlos Albizu University
1997 Magna Cum Laude Graduate, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Díaz-Toro E C, Correa-Fernández V, Calo WA, Ortiz A, Mejia L, Mazas C, & Wetter DW. Promoting tobacco cessation and smoke-free workplaces through community outreach partnerships in Puerto Rico. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education & Action. In Press.
2. Adams CE, Cano M, Heppner WL, Stewart DW, Correa-Fernandez V, Vidrine JI, Li Y, CInciripini PM, Ahluwalla JS, Wetter DW. Tssting a Moderated Mediation Model of Mindfulness, Psychosocial Stress, and Alcohol Use Among African American Smokers. Mindfulness. In Press.
3. Stewart DW, Adams CE, Cano MA, Correa-Fernández V, Li Y, Waters AJ, Wetter DW, Vidrine JI. Associations between health literacy and established predictors of smoking cessation. Am J Public Health 103(7):e43-9, 7/2013. e-Pub 5/16/2013. PMCID: PMC3682601.
4. Correa-Fernández V, Carrión-Baralt JR, Alegría M, Albizu-García CE. Correlates associated with unipolar depressive disorders in a Latino population. Psychopathology 46(3):163-71, 2013. PMID: 23006435.
5. Calo WA, Fernández ME, Rivera M, Díaz EC, Correa-Fernández V, Pattatucci A, Wetter DW. Assessing awareness and use of evidence-based programs for cancer control in Puerto Rico. J Cancer Educ 27(3):486-93, 2012. PMCID: PMC3422596.
6. Castro Y, Businelle MS, Correa-Fernández V, Kendzor DE, Mazas CA, Cofta-Woerpel L, Wetter DW. Associations between indicators of acculturation and tobacco dependence among Spanish-speaking Latino smokers. Addict Behav 37(10):1101-8, 2012. PMCID: PMC3389212.
7. Correa-Fernández V, Ji L, Castro Y, Heppner WL, Vidrine JI, Costello TJ, Mullen PD, Cofta-Woerpel L, Velasquez MM, Greisinger A, Cinciripini PM, Wetter DW. Mediators of the association of major depressive syndrome and anxiety syndrome with postpartum smoking relapse. J Consult Clin Psychol 80(4):636-48, 2012. PMCID: PMC3378794.
8. Heppner WL, Ji L, Reitzel LR, Reitzel L, Castro Y, Correa-Fernandez V, Vidrine JI, Li Y, Dolan-Mullen P, Velasquez MM, Cinciripini PM, Cinciripini P, Cofta-Woerpel L, Cofta-Woerpel L, Greisinger A, Wetter D. The role of prepartum motivation in the maintenance of postpartum smoking abstinence. Health Psychol 30(6):736-45, 11/2011. PMCID: PMC3221324.
9. Castro Y, Costello TJ, Correa-Fernández V, Heppner WL, Reitzel LR, Cofta-Woerpel L, Mazas CA, Cinciripini PM, Wetter DW. Differential effects of depression on smoking cessation in a diverse sample of smokers in treatment. Am J Prev Med 41(1):84-7, 2011. PMCID: PMC3733472.
10. Correa-Fernández V, Davila M, Kamrudin SA, Li DH, Noor SW, Oluyomi AO, Chang S, Cameron C. Educating cancer prevention researchers in emerging biobehavioral models: lessons learned. J Cancer Educ 26(4):633-40, 2011. PMCID: PMC3221859.
11. Ortiz AP, Díaz-Toro EC, Calo WA, Correa-Fernández V, Cases A, Santos-Ortiz MC, Mazas C, Mejía L, Wetter DW. Characteristics of smokers accessing the Puerto Rico Quitline. P R Health Sci J 27(3):213-9, 2008. PMCID: PMC2763363.
12. Castro Y, Correa-Fernandez V, Cano MA, Mazas CA, Gonzalez K, Vidrine DJ, Vidrine JI, & Wetter DW. Failure to replicate the structure of a Spanish-language Short Wisconsin Inventory of Smoking Dependence Motives in three samples of Latino smokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Submitted.

Manuals, Teaching Aids, Other Teaching Publications

1. Co Author. Project CUIDATE: Motivation and Problem Solving (MAPS) Treatment for Smoking Cessation and Alcohol Risk Reduction. Unpublished treatment manual, 2008.
 

Other

1. Doctoral Dissertation.

Correa-Fernández, V. Comparación de Correlatos Clínicos y Psicosociales en Adultos que Cumplen Criterios de Distimia, Depresión Mayor y Depresión Doble [Comparison of Clinical and Psychosocial Correlates in Adults that Meet Criteria for Dysthymia, Major Depression and Double Depression]. Doctoral Dissertation, unpublished document, Carlos Albizu University, San Juan, PR. August, 2003. Committee: Carmen E. Albizu García, MD; and José R. Carrión Baralt, Ph.D.

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Last updated: 1/10/2014