JPHMP Direct Welcomes New Editorial Assistant Elena Vidrascu

Elena Vidrascu, MSc

We’re pleased to announce that Elena Vidrascu, MSc, has been hired as a fulltime editorial assistant. Elena will be helping with various editorial and administrative tasks, serving as the guest editor of our Students of Public Health series, and developing a brand new serial for JPHMP Direct, among other projects, which she discussed with us in the following interview. Please help us welcome Elena by leaving your words of support in the comments section below!

JPHMP Direct: Welcome to JPHMP. Tell us about your interest in public health. What experiences influenced your career path?

Elena Vidrascu: Growing up, I observed a number of people who succumbed to the perils of substance abuse addiction. Experience gained from these interpersonal relationships, as well as the education I received from college and graduate school, helped pave the path, directing me towards working in public health. My education enables me to reflect upon my younger years and understand what may have contributed to the susceptibility of individuals with “no apparent warning signs” to abuse drugs and subsequently become dependent on them. Recently, I was an intern at EncepHeal Therapeutics, a start-up biotechnology company aiming to develop the first in-class treatment for stimulant addiction, and learned from clinical research presentations the degrees to which individuals who are dependent on stimulants differ, in regards to the presence of co-existing health conditions and neurobiological alterations, as well as the potential for personalized, integrative treatment. This information is important yet not ubiquitously available to those who would benefit from hearing it. As a member of the Coalition of Drug Abuse Prevention in Winston-Salem, I’ve had some experience presenting information to people of various educational backgrounds. People want to understand how to live a healthy life, and I would love to help make that possible.

JPHMP Direct: Tell us about some of the projects you’re working on for JPHMP/JPHMP Direct.

Elena Vidrascu: I am proofreading manuscripts, constructing documents to help authors with manuscript submission to JPHMP, revamping the JPHMP Direct monthly newsletter, and adding content to the JPHMP Direct blog. Soon I hope to introduce a new series on the blog, which will focus on bridging the understanding between the biological and social aspects of health issues, and non-pharmacological approaches to their prevention and treatment.

JPHMP Direct: What do you hope to gain from your experience with us that will be helpful toward achieving your career goals?

Elena Vidrascu: I hope to discover effective ways to disseminate public health information through social media. Many individuals are skeptical of the non-pharmacological treatments available for a myriad of health issues, such as pain management. I would like to help change this. Thankfully there is a greater emphasis on mental health today, but the stigma surrounding substance abuse, my main focus of interest, is still pervasive and entrenched in our society. I would like to parse out the content that catches the public’s attention and in what ways this has and can be delivered most effectively; whether it’s by blog posts summarizing scientific articles, interviews with health professionals, or information delivered through popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

JPHMP Direct: What public health issues do you feel are most urgent and why?

Elena Vidrascu: Honestly, I think that so many issues are connected that by tackling one issue, another one can be at least partly managed. Take for example substance abuse. Although we can’t necessarily say that one exclusively precedes the other, drug addiction is highly comorbid with anxiety and depression. Often treating one of these issues can help mitigate the struggles experienced with another. In addition, addiction and its underlying symptoms (loss of control and awareness, motivation) can often infiltrate other daily lifestyle choices, such as eating behavior, interpersonal relationships, sleep, and physical activity.

JPHMP Direct: What role does communication play in improving public health?

Elena Vidrascu: We scientists need to make more effort to effectively educate the public on physical and mental health as not simply individual, disparate issues, but to also show the relationship between them. We are a society fueled by the promising quick fix of medications, which for some ailments are not exclusively superior to non-pharmacologic treatments. A bigger focus on personalized, integrative treatment that combines several options is warranted, as well as ways to manage symptoms and prevent manifestation of disease. The research is out there, so we need to find ways to relay this information to the public. Communicating research results in a fun, informative way with a focus on prevention may cater to younger populations in particular.

JPHMP Direct: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Elena Vidrascu: The younger population is a critical target audience for public health information. Some things are unavoidable, yet others, at least in terms of the age of onset and severity of various ailments, if identified early, can be conducive to preventing adverse health events later in life.

About Elena Vidrascu, MSc

Elena recently graduated from Wake Forest University with her MSc in Physiology and Pharmacology. Her primary field of interest is substance abuse, with goals to disseminate information to the public, including addicts and those in recovery, and to influence policy change to push for more integrative approaches towards prevention and treatment. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis, hiking, doing puzzles, and cuddling with her kitten Maple.