Diana A. Chirinos Medina was born and raised in Arequipa, Peru, where she completed her undergraduate work at Santa Maria Catholic University with a major in Psychology. While in Peru, Diana worked in a large epidemiological study of cardiovascular disease prevalence that sparked her interest in the relationship between biopsychosocial factors and health. She moved to the US in 2010 to attend graduate school at the University of Miami. She graduated with her M.S. in Health Clinical Psychology in 2012, and will receive her Ph.D. from the same institution in the summer of 2016. During her time in Miami, Diana continued to develop her interest in the bio-behavioral determinants of cardio-metabolic risk among Hispanic/Latinos both in the context of large epidemiological studies and within structured lifestyle interventions. In her time away from psychology, Diana likes to go out with friends, try out new restaurants, play with her dog, and make her annual trip to visit her family in Peru.
Diana’s line of research focuses on (1) understanding the role of demographic and psychosocial factors as determinants of the cardiovascular health of ethnic minorities, and (2) elucidating the biobehavioral pathways underlying the relationship between chronic stressors and cardiovascular disease outcomes. Diana has authored several publications based on data from two major epidemiological studies aimed at determining the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors among Hispanics: the Peruvian Study of Cardiovascular Disease (PREVENCION), a study of over 1,800 adults in Arequipa-Peru; and the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), a multisite study of more than 16,000 Hispanics living in the US. Similarly, she has examined the role of key biomarkers linking stress and disease, such as inflammatory cytokines including C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, and adipocitokines, such as leptin and adiponectin, in healthy samples and among minority individuals at high risk for heart disease. Diana hopes to continue to develop these interests during her postdoctoral training. At Rice, she plans to examine the role of bereavement, an acute stressor, as a moderator in the association between socio-economic or minority status and important precursors of heart disease, such as inflammation and reduced parasympathic nervous system activity. She will work under the mentorship of Drs. Christopher Fagundes and Marina Vannucci.