UMass Awarded $6.7 Million Grant to Establish Center for Health Equity Intervention Research
July 26, 2012
Office of Communications
The University of Massachusetts has been recognized by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a Comprehensive Center of Excellence and awarded a $6.7 million grant over five years to establish the UMass Center for Health Equity Intervention Research (CHEIR.) Supported by a collaborative partnership between UMass Medical School (UMMS) and UMass Boston, CHEIR’s mission is to improve the health of socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority populations.
“This award offers an important opportunity to promote health equity and reduce health disparities in the Massachusetts communities that our institutions serve,” said Jeroan Allison, MD, MS, professor and vice-chair, UMMS Department of Quantitative Health Sciences and Principal Investigator for CHEIR. “We will also build a pipeline for the next generation of health disparity researchers, providing hands-on research experiences and mentoring to health and behavioral science students.”
Another important goal of CHEIR is to provide a consultative service to jumpstart new research projects for eliminating health disparities and to work with the community to advance “research literacy.”
The center will bring together several disciplines from UMMS and UMass Boston, including public health, medicine, psychology, nursing, cultural anthropology, sociology, biostatistics, and informatics, to improve health and healthcare of people across Massachusetts, including those at greatest risk.
“We believe we can move the field forward with a number of narrative-based interventions, focused on tools such as storytelling,” said Milagros C. Rosal, PhD, professor, UMMS Department of Medicine and Co-Principal Investigator for CHEIR. “We will be developing interventions that reach people in a manner that is culturally appropriate and literacy sensitive.”
“We will focus on strategies that leverage the full spectrum of helpers available to patients and that do not require direct physician intervention, such as nutritionists and community health workers,” Rosal said. “This is about engaging vulnerable populations and the settings that serve them by working at multiple levels, such as patient, clinic, and community.”
Research projects will test culturally appropriate interventions to reduce disparities. Specific projects include a multi-media program to promote mother-child communication about sexuality and sexual health protection in the Latino community; a new approach to facilitating post-partum weight loss among lower income new mothers; and an innovative adaption of the community health-worker model to support hypertension management. These projects will involve academic-community collaborations involving researchers from UMass Worcester and Boston and several community-based organizations including the Women, Infant and Children program in Worcester, Family Health Center of Worcester, Lowell Community Health Center, and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Springfield.
An undergraduate minority health scholars program will be created at UMass Boston with the Mauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, the William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture and the New England Institute for Native American Studies.
“There is enormous potential in the research we are undertaking,” said Maria Idali Torres, PhD, MSPH, associate professor, UMass Boston Department of Anthropology, director of the Gastón Institute and a CHEIR researcher. “The center represents the true spirit of community-engaged research that is central to the mission of UMass Boston and the goal of its ethnic institutes to reduce ethnic disparities.”
“CHEIR reflects the combined talent of a diverse group of researchers from UMass Worcester and Boston dedicated to finding solutions to some of the most important health problems locally and across the nation,” said Dr. Allison. “Partnering with our community and training the next generation of health disparities researchers will greatly magnify the long-term impact of CHEIR.”
The following faculty members will lead the CHEIR:
- College of Nursing and Health Sciences (Laura L. Hayman, Ph.D., MSN)
- Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy (Maria Idali Torres, Ph.D., MSPH, Phillip Granberry, Ph.D.)
- The Institute for New England Native American Studies (J. Cedric Woods, Ph.D.)
- The William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture (Barbara Lewis, Ph.D.)
- Worcester County Prevention Research Center (Stephenie Lemon, Ph.D.; Milagros C. Rosal, Ph.D.; Suzanne Cashman, Sc.D.)
- UMMS Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office and Department of Psychiatry (Deborah Plummer, Ph.D.)
- Department of Family and Community Medicine, UMMS (Suzanne Cashman, Sc.D., Lee Hargraves, Ph.D., Barry Saver, MD, MPH, AM, Carole Upshur, Ph.D.)
- Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of Medicine, UMMS (Stephenie Lemon, Ph.D.; Milagros C. Rosal, Ph.D.)
- Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, UMMS (Jeroan Allison, MD, MS, Catarina Kiefe, PhD, MD, and Sharina Person, Ph.D.)
- Faculty Diversity Scholar’s Program (Milagros C. Rosal, Ph.D., Deborah Plummer, Ph.D.)
- Worcester Pipeline Collaborative
About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $270 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.
About the University of Massachusetts Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s eight colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.