MHRC Young Supporters Board Hosts Kick-Off Event
On December 2, 2008, the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC) welcomed the addition of the UAB Minority Health Young Professionals Board at a kick-off event. The board, which is composed of young professionals age 25 to 40 who represent diverse professions and ethnicities, supports all facets of the minority health initiatives facilitated by the MHRC.
“The board holds such promise because this collection of professionals will likely spawn new ideas reflecting the diversity of perspectives and expertise within the group,” says Raegan Durant, board member and assistant professor of medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine. “The support of the MHRC allows me and other young investigators the opportunity to explore novel areas of research related to the health care of the underserved. Thus far, the MHRC has established an impressive track record of its young award recipients moving on to garner larger, more competitive grant awards.”
The primary function of the board is to raise funds to support basic research, community outreach, or training programs for junior faculty, medical students, and/or undergraduate students. Members also will work to increase awareness of minority health issues impacting the greater Birmingham community, the Black Belt region, and the state to new audiences. Through the YP Health Disparities Fund, the board will annually select an MHRC project to support. Board members also will assist in recruiting top-notch resident candidates and will serve as summer mentors for students participating in the MHRC Summer Enrichment Program.
“As a young professional, I had several mentors who invested in my future,” says L’Tryce M. Slade, M.R.P., J.D., board member and managing director of Slade Land Use, Environmental, and Transportation Planning LLC. “I would like to give back and serve as a mentor. Also, I am passionate about how the environment affects health, and I’m knowledgeable about environmental health threats, which are more prominent in minority and low-income communities. I hope this knowledge and my knowledge of environmental law will be assets to the board.”
“Regardless of our profession or calling in life,” says board president Donald V. Watkins Jr., chief financial officer at Donald V. Watkins, PC, “I think we all should become more aware of minority health disparity issues affecting our community. I have been a businessman and entrepreneur all my life. Throughout the years, my businesses have received the full support of the minority community. After attending the MHRC gala for the first time last year, I realized the time had come for me to return the favor. As president, I hope to lead this board by devoting my time, energy, and resources in a way I have never done before, all for the benefit of the MHRC and its efforts toward minority health research.”
“We are looking to this group of impressive individuals to bring new ideas on ways to engage the underserved young minority population to benefit from the MHRC’s programs and help us in our goal to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equities,” says Mona Fouad, M.D., director of the MHRC. “We hope they will engage and energize their businesses and peers to take part in addressing the disease burden in our communities. Their excitement and enthusiasm for the MHRC cause and mission and their commitment to social responsibility were apparent from their positive response to our call.”