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Thu Nguyen

Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Thu Nguyen, ScD, MSPH is an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. She is a social epidemiologist whose research focuses on the impact of modifiable social factors on minority health and health disparities. A primary line of focus of her research is investigating the influence of racism and discrimination in creating and perpetuating health equities.

Dr. Nguyen leads the Big Data for Health Equity (BD4HE) Research Collaborative


SPH 2234DD

Areas of Interest

Core Faculty

Social Media; Big Data; Machine Learning; Discrimination and Racism and its Impact on Health; Social Determinants of Health; Race and Socioeconomic Health Disparities

Dr. Nguyen uses a variety of different data sources (including Big Data) and approaches (including quantitative and qualitative research methods) to advance our understanding of social determinants of health. Dr. Nguyen also leads the interdisciplinary research collaborative, Big Data for Health Equity (BD4HE). BD4HE is comprised of faculty, trainees, and students from universities across the U.S committed to advancing theories, methods, and findings related to the use of Big Data for health equity research. The group investigates the impact of the social, cultural, and built environment on health disparities and identifies levers for change. An overarching objective of the group is to provide a formal space for training, mentorship, and collaboration.

She is the principal investigator of an R01, K99/R00, and American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship examining the impact of discrimination and racial bias on health disparities. In her American Heart Association funded postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Nguyen examined U.S. trends in encounters of health care discrimination overall and stratified by race/ethnicity and investigated the relationship between health care discrimination and biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk. Through her NIMHD K99/R00 funded research, she developed a place-level measure of racial climate from Twitter data and examined its association with birth and cardiovascular outcomes. This research project 1) compares the Twitter derived measure with existing national measures of racial attitudes and discrimination, 2) examines temporal trends in the relationship between place-level racial sentiment and adverse birth outcomes, and 3) investigates allostatic load, a measure of cumulative burden of chronic stress, as a mediator in the pathway between place-level racial sentiment and birth outcomes. Her recently awarded R01 builds upon the K99/R00 project to use online and social media data to track and detect changes in area-level racial bias and identify local and national race-related events. It will also determine the influence of changes in area-level racial bias on changes in adverse birth outcomes and identify protective factors to buffer the impact of racism on adverse birth outcomes.

Dr. Nguyen received her BA in Human Biology from Stanford University, her MSPH in Epidemiology from UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and her ScD in Social Epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

ScD, Social Epidemiology, ScD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health;

MSPH, Epidemiology, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health

BA, Human Biology, Stanford University

American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Heart Association, 2016 - 2018

Population Health and Health Equity Scholar, University of California, San Francisco 2020-2021

NIH Loan Repayment Program, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, 2017-2020; 2021-2022

Hamad R, Glymour MM, Calmasini C, Nguyen TT, Walter S, Rehkopf DH (In press). Explaining the variance in cardiovascular disease risk factors: A comparison of demographic, socioeconomic, and genetic predictors. Epidemiology. 

Nguyen TT, Huang D, Michaels EK, Glymour MM, Allen AM, Nguyen QC. Evaluating associations between area-level Twitter-expressed negative racial sentiment, hate crimes, and residents' racial prejudice in the United States. Social Science & Medicine - Population Health. 2021;13:100750

Nguyen TT, Criss S, Dwivedi P, Huang D, Keralis J, Hsu E, Phan L, Nguyen LH, Yardi I, Glymour MM, Allen AM, Chae DH, Gee GC, Nguyen QC. Exploring U.S. Shifts in Anti-Asian Sentiment with the Emergence of COVID-19. International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health. 2020. 17(19), 7032; doi: 10.3390/ijerph17197032

Nguyen TT, Adams N, Huang D, Glymour MM, Allen AM, Nguyen QC. The Association Between State-Level Racial Attitudes Assessed From Twitter Data and Adverse Birth Outcomes: Observational Study. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2020 Jul 6;6(3):e17103. doi: 10.2196/17103. PubMed PMID: 32298232.

Nguyen TT, Criss S, Allen AM, Glymour MM, Phan L, Trevino R, Dasari S, Nguyen QC. Pride, Love & Twitter Rants: combining machine learning and qualitative techniques to understand what our tweets reveal about race in the U.S. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019 May; 16(10). Pii. E1766. 

Nguyen TT, Vable A, Glymour, MM, Allen, AM. Discrimination in health care and biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk in U.S. adults. Social Science & Medicine – Population Health. 2019 (7): 100306. 

Nguyen TT, Tchetgen Tchetgen E, Kawachi I, Gilman S, Walter, S., 

Glymour MM. The role of literacy in the association between educational attainment and depressive symptoms. Social Science & Medicine – Population Health. 2017 Dec; 3:71-76. doi:

Nguyen TT, Tchetgen Tchetgen E, Kawachi I, Gilman S, Walter, S., 

Liu, SY, Manly, JJ. Glymour MM. Instrumental variable approaches to identifying the causal effect of education on dementia risk. Annals of Epidemiology. 2016 Jan; 26(1) 71-76. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2015.10.006. 

Nguyen TT, Tchetgen Tchetgen E, Kawachi I, Gilman S, Walter, S. Glymour M. Comparing alternative effect decomposition methods: the role of literacy in mediation educational effects on mortality. Epidemiology. 2016 Sep;27(5):670-6. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000517.

Nguyen TT, Kaufman JS, Whitsel EA, Cooper RS. Racial differences in blood pressure response to calcium channel blocker monotherapy: a meta-analysis. Am J Hypertens. 2009 Aug;22(8):911-7.