iSchool associate director collaborates with College of Medicine on National Cancer Institute project

Dr. Michelle Kazmer
Dr. Michelle Kazmer

Florida State University School of Information Associate Director Michelle Kazmer is collaborating with the College of Medicine on a two-year project funded through the National Cancer Institute that will investigate the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in the Latina teenage population.

Mary A. Gerend, an associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine, is the principal investigator for the grant of $363,500, which is an Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award from the U. S. National Institutes of Health.

Kazmer, a co-investigator on the project, will be responsible for managing and analyzing the qualitative data generated via interviews with research participants.

“We’re looking at people who have begun the sequence of vaccinations but haven’t completed them,” Kazmer said. “The qualitative portion of the study will allow us to understand more deeply the factors involved.”

HPV vaccination is a safe and effective primary prevention strategy for several cancers, yet vaccination rates are remarkably low, especially for Hispanic females. HPV vaccines are given in three doses over a six-month period, but low rates of vaccine completion are of crucial concern for populations disproportionally affected by HPV-related disease such as Latinas, whose cervical cancer incidence rates are 60 percent higher than in non-Hispanic whites.

The long-term goal of the project is to develop effective strategies for increasing HPV vaccine completion among low-income Hispanic adolescents, thereby reducing morbidity, mortality, and disparities associated with HPV-related disease.

Kazmer joined Florida State’s iSchool faculty in 2002 and will be promoted to Professor effective this fall.  She also holds a courtesy faculty appointment at the Florida State University College of Medicine in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine and is affiliated with the Florida State University Institute for Successful Longevity.

Elizabeth Slate, the Duncan McLean and Pearl Levine Fairweather Professor, in Florida State’s Department of Statistics and Maria E. Fernandez, Associate Director of the Center for Health Promotion & Prevention Research at University of Texas School of Public Health, are also co-investigators on the project.