Brooks Gump named Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health

Brooks B. Gump, Ph.D., MPH, has been named the Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health in the Falk College at Syracuse University. Gump joined the Falk College faculty in 2010 and is currently a professor in the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, where he also serves as the graduate program director for public health.

“In consultation with the Falk family, I am pleased to name Dr. Brooks Gump as the Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health. He is a nationally recognized leader in his field and an exemplary scholar and researcher in the area of public health. The Falk College is fortunate to have him leading our graduate program in public health. He works each day collaborating with other scholars to make a difference in critical research areas within the field. The Falk College and the Falk family are privileged to support his efforts,” notes Diane Lyden Murphy, dean, Falk College.

In 2011, Syracuse University alumni David B. and Rhonda S. Falk committed $15 million to SU—one of the largest-ever single gifts to the University. As part of their visionary and purposeful commitment to academics as a path to success, which created the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, the Falks also established a series of endowed professorships. These professorships allow the Falk College to support internationally recognized faculty to enhance the research, academic and experiential components of its programs to advance its mission rich in teaching, research, scholarship, practice and service.

“I’m very appreciative of the support I’ve received from Dean Murphy and the Research Center since joining Falk College—these sorts of large research endeavors are, by necessity, team efforts from inception to completion. I also thank the Falk family for their generosity and support by the creation of these endowed positions,” says Dr. Gump.

Recognized internationally for his research on cardiovascular disease risk in children, Gump was awarded an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences earlier this year for the project, “Environmental Toxicants, Race and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Children.” The study investigates the relationship between race, socioeconomic status, blood lead levels, cardiovascular responses to acute stress and cardiovascular disease risk. To better pinpoint the early antecedents of racial disparities, the study is focused on a sample of 300 African American and European American children ages 9 to 11 in the city of Syracuse, NY area over four years.

“We know many African American children have higher levels of lead in their blood than white children,” notes Gump. “Preliminary data suggest their hearts are already showing signs of change because lead is causing vascular constriction, triggering a rise in blood pressure. We also hope to link the well-known detrimental effects of lead on cognitive functioning to this vascular constriction because reduced blood flow may have negative impact on brain function.”

In addition to his ongoing NIH-supported research with children, Gump is currently principal investigator for a grant from the National Science Foundation Research Education for Undergraduate (REU) program, entitled, “Training Veterans to Conduct Trauma Research with Fellow Veterans.” Through this grant, Gump and a team from SUNY Oswego and SUNY Upstate Medical train undergraduates who are military veterans to conduct research with other veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The recipient of numerous research awards for his work, Gump was honored most recently with the Falk College’s Faculty of the Year in Research for 2012-2013.

Previously, Gump served as an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York at Oswego. His work there was also supported by numerous NIH grants, including an R01, R21, and American Recovery and Reinvestment Award Supplement. With an array of research and publications, his specialties include psychosocial factors and their overall effect on health, and more recently, the effects of socioeconomic disadvantage, race, and environmental toxicants (e.g.,lead and mercury) on children and adolescents’ health. His teaching areas include introduction to epidemiology, introduction to psychology, health psychology, research methods/experimental psychology, health promotion, introductory and advanced statistics, behavioral medicine and psychophysiology.

He serves on the editorial board of two prominent journals in his field, Psychosomatic Medicine, and Health Psychology, and serves as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous other journals, including the American Journal of Epidemiology, Pediatrics, Stroke, and American Journal of Psychiatry. He is currently serving a four-year term as a member of the National Institute of Child Health and Development’s (NICHD’s) Health, Behavior, and Context Subcommittee.

Gump earned a Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego, and MPH degree in epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a master in general psychology from Radford University and a bachelor of arts in philosophy from Swarthmore College.