Cynthia Lebron, MPH, Selected as an American Public Health Association Maternal and Child Health Fellow

The American Public Health Association (APHA) selected Cynthia Lebron, MPH, a Ph.D. in Prevention Science and Community Health candidate, as a 2019-2020 Maternal and Child Health fellow. Lebron graduated from the Master of Public Health program at the Miller School in 2013 and began the Ph.D. program in 2015.  

"I feel blessed and honored to have received this national fellowship. I am grateful for the opportunities it will afford me in meeting experts and being exposed to new and developing studies, issues, and policies in the field," Lebron said.  

Lebron recalls first hearing about the fellowship through her mentor, Sarah Messiah, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at the Miller School, and submitting the application for consideration the very next day, which was also one day after the application had opened.

"I am extremely proud that Cynthia was selected as this is a highly competitive fellowship on an international scale. Because of this, she will be afforded new training, collaboration and networking opportunities that will advance her training program," Dr. Messiah said.  

A big portion of her fellowship will be her attendance to the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo in Philadelphia from Nov. 2 to 6, 2019, where she will partake in various meetings, such as an orientation to the fellowship.

She will also attend leadership and maternal and child health organizational meetings, as well as build connections with researchers and scientists that make up the fellowship. Lebron will be partnered with a committee, as well as with a mentor that will provide guidance on specific projects and assist her in developing professional relationships.

There is also leadership training once a month, where fellows will be trained on relevant issues in the field. They would also be able to participate in webinars, develop APHA policy statements to guide advocacy efforts, write in section newsletters within the organization, as well as participate in National Public Health Week.

“There will be a lot of opportunities to partake in. I'll be diving into this world where I'll be meeting maternal and child health experts, which will allow me to connect, share and collaborate with others on various opportunities and projects,” she said. 

At the Miller School, Lebron worked in the Miami Healthy Heart Initiative as a research assistant and outreach coordinator and as a research support specialist at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She was also a senior clinical research coordinator at the Jay Weiss Institute for Health Equity at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Since beginning the Ph.D. program, she has also been a graduate student researcher for a myriad of initiatives within the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences, as well as in other departments. These initiatives include Healthy Caregivers, Healthy Children, Mamá Feeds Bebé, e-Familias Unidas, and Communities That Care. Lebron currently has 15 publications, six of which she has served as lead author.

In August of 2018, she received funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to serve as principal investigator on what is now her dissertation topic. She will be using machine learning to predict early childhood obesity among ethnically diverse families.

“I’ll be using a type of machine learning called k-fold Cross-Validation. It's a different kind of technique where you're basically repeating the models on a few samples of an entire sample to test and train the data," Lebron said. "The goal is to find which determinants keep coming up on each of the models. I can then use the determinants that I find to create a prevention intervention for early childhood obesity."

Written by Amanda Torres
Published on September 10, 2019