VCU College of Health Professions appoints new associate dean for research

headshot of Faika ZanjaniThe Virginia Commonwealth University College of Health Professions has named Faika Zanjani, Ph.D., the new associate dean for research, effective Nov. 1.

A professor in the Department of Gerontology, and longtime career researcher, Zanjani first came to VCU in 2017. She has worked in geriatric public health issues, particularly within the areas of health behavior change and health promotion; mental health and substance abuse/use; and community health interventions, in both urban and rural community applications. At VCU she developed and now directs the Richmond Brain Health Initiative (RBHI) to serve the Alzheimer’s Disease and the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Community Continuum.

“Faika’s passion for research and research administration combined with her commitment to supporting the skills and talents of our world class faculty, will help the College further the impact our researchers have on health care,” said Paula H. Song, Ph.D., interim dean and Richard M. Bracken chair and professor in the College of Health Professions. “Her extensive contributions and leadership will help us continue to build upon our growing and innovative research program.

In the role as associate dean for research, Zanjani will continue to advance and oversee the College’s research initiatives involving faculty and students. She also will collaborate with personnel within the College to coordinate extramural funding proposal submissions, guide proposal writing and development, and advise doctoral student research development in marketable areas.

While at VCU, Zanjani has conducted research within the Center of Inclusion, Inquiry, and Innovation (iCubed) Lifespan, Health, and Wellness Core and Richmond Health and Wellness Program (RHWP) to support older community-dwelling, low-income, racially-diverse older adults. She also has directed the iCubed Commonwealth Scholars Program (CSP) to provide research training to graduate and undergraduate students, aimed at creating a health disparity pipeline.

Throughout her academic career, Zanjani has obtained over $5 million in research grant support. She has served as primary investigator on research projects such as the RBHI, Prescription-Drug Alcohol Aging Safety, and Mental Health and Aging Campaign with grant support through the Administration for Community Living, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

She has given numerous national and local presentations, and has over 50 peer-reviewed publications in premiere gerontology/geriatric journals such as Aging & Mental Health, Clinical Gerontologist, Experimental Aging Research, Gerontologist, Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine, Journal of Aging and Health, Journal of Applied Gerontology, Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, and Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science.

A fellow of the Gerontological Society of America with over and 1,200 citations, Zanjani has held numerous research focused appointments, such as NIH/NIMH Predoctoral Fellow, APA Minority Health Fellow, NIH/NIMH Geriatric Postdoctoral Fellow, and NIH BIRWCH Scholar. Zanjani earned a Ph.D. in human development and family studies, with a concentration in gerontology, from Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation focused on lifespan health behaviors. Additionally, Zanjani has postdoctoral training in geriatric psychiatry from the University of Pennsylvania.

“I have always considered myself a researcher from a very early age, and I am excited to support the growing and promising research happening at the College of Health Professions,” said Zanjani. “I look forward to building connections and identifying new opportunities while fostering a culture of collaboration.”

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