Kartika Palar, PhD

Assistant Professor

My research focuses on addressing the drivers and consequences of health inequity in HIV and chronic disease. One stream of research investigates the impact of food insecurity and other unmet subsistence needs on health. A new stream of research examines the intersection of HIV, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and social determinants of health. Within these areas, I have a special interest in developing equitable community partnerships to design and evaluate program and policy solutions. I am interested in both safety-net interventions that address immediate needs, as well as policies that address upstream root causes of health inequity.

Current studies fall within one or more of the above research streams. I am PI of the 5-year NIH-funded Women, HIV/AIDS and Diabetes Study, or WAND Study, based within the US national Women’s Interagency HIV Study. WAND is using both qualitative and quantitative methods to understand the impact of social and economic barriers on HIV and diabetes health among women living with both conditions, with the goal of developing an intervention to improve HIV/diabetes co-management among women experiencing multiple vulnerabilities. I am also co-PI of the Changing Health through Food Support (CHEFS) Study, an RCT of comprehensive, medically appropriate food support to low-income, people with HIV in the San Francisco Bay Area in collaboration with Project Open Hand. I am co-leading the development of a community-based collaboration to evaluate urban gardens as a strategy to improve health among low-income people with diabetes in the Bay Area, and am involved with an urban garden intervention for people with HIV in the Dominican Republic. I am a co-investigator or collaborator on several other projects addressing food insecurity and health, and/or HIV/NCD co-morbidity, domestically and abroad.

My international work is largely based in Latin America, in collaboration with the World Food Programme and others. Finally, I have a strong commitment and passion for mentoring students and others with interest in issues of health equity, particularly those with backgrounds underrepresented in scientific research.
Education
Postdoctoral Fellowship - Social/Behavioral HIV Research, 2015 - Division of HIV, ID and Global Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Postdoctoral Fellowship - Health Services Research, 2014 - UCLA School of Public Health, Dept of Health Policy and Mgmt, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
PhD - Policy Analysis, 2012 - Pardee RAND Graduate School, RAND Corporation
MA - International Affairs, 2006 - Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
BA - Development Studies & Ethnic Studies, 2001 - , Brown University
Honors and Awards
  • Early Career Award of Excellence in Behavioral Research, UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), 2017
Publications
  1. Nutrition and Health Improvements After Participation in an Urban Home Garden Program.
  2. Food Insecurity, Internalized Stigma, and Depressive Symptoms Among Women Living with HIV in the United States.
  3. Comprehensive and Medically Appropriate Food Support Is Associated with Improved HIV and Diabetes Health.
  4. Food Insecurity is Longitudinally Associated with Depressive Symptoms Among Homeless and Marginally-Housed Individuals Living with HIV.
  5. Food insecurity and nutritional barriers to antiretroviral therapy: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean