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CHHS Public Health Graduate to Present at American Public Health Association Conference

  • Author: Zona J. Ascensio
  • Author: Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

The Department of Public Health in the College of Health and Human Services, and the WKU chapter of the Kentucky Public Health Association, would like to extend a huge congratulations to Gargya Malla, one of our spring 2016 MPH graduates, for being selected to present a poster at the 2016 Annual Meeting and Expo of the American Public Health Association in Denver, Colorado.  The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the foremost professional organization for public health practitioners in the United States, and the APHA annual conference is the largest gathering of public health professionals worldwide. Being selected to present at the annual conference is a noteworthy achievement. The selection process for a poster presentation involves the submission of an abstract that is thoroughly reviewed by community and academic members of the APHA for academic rigor, research quality, and consistency with the conference’s theme.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health’. Consistent with this theme, Malla’s poster compares the strength of association between BMI and cardiovascular disease with the strength of association between BMI and stroke among American adults. After accounting for socio-demographic factors, known associated health behaviors, and comorbidities, Malla found that obesity increased the likelihood of an individual reporting some form of heart disease, as well as increased the likelihood of reporting a stroke. Obese adults were 67% more likely to have been diagnosed with a stroke and 73% more likely to be told they have cardiovascular disease, even after controlling for the impact of smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and physical activity. She will present on October 31st from 12:30pm to 1:30 pm. Malla was mentored by Dr. Colin Farrell.

Gargya Malla has an established history of academic excellence. After receiving bachelors degrees in both medicine and surgery from Andhra Medical College in India, Malla was accepted into Western Kentucky University’s Master of Public Health program with a concentration in health education. As a graduate student at WKU, Malla maintained a 4.0 GPA and received awards for Outstanding Academic Achievement from the Department of Public Health as well as for Excellence in Graduate Scholarship from the WKU KPHA chapter. Her research experience includes explorations into such topics as the social and physical consequences of obesity, the social components of PTSD, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on Kentucky healthcare access. Malla has previously presented her work at many notable venues, including the European Stroke Conference (Venice, Italy, 2016);  the National Association of County and City Health Officials Annual Meeting (Phoenix, AZ, 2016); and the Kentucky Public Health Association (KPHA) annual conference (Owensboro, KY, 2015 & 2016).

Gargya Malla will be pursuing a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham beginning this fall. Her goal is to become a clinical research epidemiologist focusing on the epidemiology of chronic diseases. Faculty, staff and students of WKU’s Department of Public Health are proud of all her achievements and hard work. We are honored to call her one of our alumni.


Public Health Graduate, Gargya Malla

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