Deepthi Varma, PhD, MPhil, MSW
Research Assistant Professor
Director, PhD in Epidemiology Program
Dr. Varma received her doctoral degree in Psychiatric Social Work at National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, India. Later, she completed her post-doctoral training in Psychiatric Epidemiology as a Fogarty Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. During her doctoral and post-doctoral training period her research projects include HIV/AIDS prevention interventions among women, mental health correlates of intimate partner violence, and studying the perceived need for HIV prevention interventions among drug abusing female offenders. Dr. Varma has considerable field experience in rural India specifically working on the reproductive health of women. She served as a Program Officer for three years in the Reproductive Health division at Population Council, New Delhi. India. While at the Council, her work involved conducting a large epidemiological study on women, men and health care providers to assess the demand and practices to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition outcomes in rural India funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Her work specifically focused on assessing the status of institutional delivery in rural northern India, access to emergency obstetric care and post-natal care for mothers and newborns and providing recommendations to design effective behavior change communication strategies to improve maternal, infant and child mortality and morbidity. She was also involved in a multi-country study on understanding the provider beliefs, attitudes and practices concerning emergency contraception funded by the International Consortium on Emergency Contraception. Currently, Dr. Varma serves as the Director of Work Force Development at HealthStreet – the community engagement initiative at University of Florida. She is actively involved in the recruitment, training and supervision of Community Health Workers at HealthStreet. She also serves on the Board of Directors at Healthy Start of North Central Florida. She was recently awarded the International Research Travel Grant by University of Florida International Center (UFIC) to plan a mHealth research project for pregnant women in Haiti in collaboration with local experts. Dr. Varma is also a recipient of the CTSI Pilot Award to explore the effectiveness of text messaging and reminder calls to increase use of service referrals by HealthStreet participants (Role: PI). Her current research is focused on mental health, perinatal mental health, mHealth (use of mobile technology in delivering health care), and community engagement. Dr. Varma teaches Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology, and is also the Director of the PhD Program in Epidemiology.