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Svetla Slavova, PhD, has been named interim associate dean for research for the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health (CPH).

Dr. Slavova, who is an associate professor with CPH’s Department of Biostatistics and a faculty associate with the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, assumed the role on July 18.

“I'm excited to serve my college and to help through this transition,” she says. “I'm honored and humbled that people believe that I have the experience and the knowledge to help. The college has a good research infrastructure and support for the work that we will be doing. I will be able to focus on research and new initiatives, as I will be working with a very strong and experienced research team.”

In announcing the appointment, CPH Acting Dean Dr. Heather Bush thanked all who provided feedback and input regarding the position of interim associate dean for research. 

“I am thrilled that Dr. Slavova has agreed to serve and lead in this important area for our College,” says Dr. Bush. “Dr. Slavova holds one of the University’s highest research awards, University Research Professor, and has been honored as a [Dr. Rice C. Leach] Public Health Hero. Her productivity as a scholar continues to make an impact on public health practice. She is an exemplar of what public health research can be, and I am excited for her to lead college-wide efforts and initiatives to grow research in CPH.” 

Dr. Slavova has authored and co-authored many peer-reviewed publications highlighting analytical approaches to understanding and combating the opioid epidemic. Dr. Slavova was awarded the 2018 Jess Kraus Award for best paper published in Injury Epidemiology. A paper led by Dr. Slavova is currently the top cited paper for the last three years in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Dr. Slavova has been a principal or co-investigator on programs funded by different agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Department of Justice, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Dr. Slavova is currently a principal investigator on multiple grants. She is also a co-investigator on the largest UK research grant, the HEALing Communities Study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, serving as a co-director for its Data, Informatics, and Biostatistics Core.

“I think I have some experience and knowledge that I would love to share and pass along to researchers,” she says.

In the role of interim associate dean for research, Dr. Slavova hopes to help early career faculty as they apply for grants, work on applying for collegewide research center grants that will support and expand the CPH’s research infrastructure, and develop a training program for faculty and professional staff on research data management, in line with the 2023 NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy that will become effective on Jan. 25, 2023.

“Sometimes it is difficult to get your first funding, your first grant, from the National Institutes of Health, because you do not have prior data or have any records that would promise good results,” she explains. “One of the things that I would like to accomplish is to work with early career faculty to help them find the right funding mechanisms for their application and work with them to find the right support.

“Early career faculty have some startup funding, but they don't have established teams, established mentors, and collaborators. I see part of my work helping early career faculty to make those successful connections to start applying for funding.”

Dr. Slavova completed the UK’s Chairs’ Academy in December 2021. She was previously recognized for her leadership by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), receiving the CSTE 2018 Distinguish Leader Award.

Dr. Slavova earned her PhD and MS degrees in Statistics from the University of Kentucky and an MS in Computer Science from Sofia University, Bulgaria.

In 2004, the University of Kentucky established the College of Public Health to develop transformative solutions to health challenges through teaching, research, and service efforts. We are dedicated to transforming and assisting in the creation of a healthier community, state, and world—for everyone.

Located in Lexington, Kentucky, we take seriously our public health responsibility to all communities and individuals in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond. To learn more about our community and programs, visit us at

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