Natalie Bareis, PhD, MSSW

Natalie Bareis, PhD, MSSW

Department: Division of Epidemiology

I received my BA in Psychology at San Francisco State University in 2007. In 2011, I moved to New York to attend Columbia University School of Social Work, and graduatedin 2013 with a Master’s of Science in Social Work. My MSSW focus was in Applied Generalist Practice and Programming, a clinical as well as program development degree.

While at CUSSW, I realized how inextricably linked Social Work was to Public Health and Epidemiology, and Epigenetics was a perfect bridge to bring together these fields. The inequities social work strives to uncover and change, are now physically detectible in one’s epigenome, bringing the experience and knowledge of social work into the realm of science in a completely new way.

Epigenetic research looking at the relationship between environment and severe mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia and Bipolar Affective Disorder is not only finding biomarkers of these illnesses, but is also determining the mechanisms in psychotropic medications that are affecting the epigenome. This leads to exciting questions regarding what and how medications are truly helping individuals with severe mental illness.

I joined the Epidemiology PhD program at VCU because it offered so many opportunities to work on many different avenues of research that I am particularly interested in. I have found this program to be open to the ideas of its students, encouraging and directing us in ways that I have not experienced before. We are constantly given opportunities to further our knowledge outside the classroom, and everyone is eager to work together and help each other.

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