Transforming Science into Better Health for All

The UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC) generates and disseminates research knowledge from biomedical, behavioral, and social sciences in order to reduce the health disparities experienced by vulnerable populations and disadvantaged communities locally, regionally, and nationally.

The Center was established in 2002, and since then has maintained its status as a University-Wide Interdisciplinary Research Center, as well as a Center of Excellence (P60) funded by the National Institutes of Health.


The MHRC supports three programs  - Research, Training, and Outreach - that align with the University’s broad strategic goals and make it an enabling platform for UAB’s research, teaching, and service missions.

 

RESEARCH

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TRAINING

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OUTREACH

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MHRC News

MHRC celebrates success in the 2015 Summer Enrichment Program

enrichmentEach summer, the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center hosts the Summer Enrichment Program, a summer training program for undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare. Read more ...

Southern-style eating strikes again

Southern-style eating strikes again: Study finds diet pattern increases heart disease risk

fried chickenSouthern favorites like fried chicken and bacon may taste great when consumed, but they can have negative effects on heart health, according to UAB researchers.
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Racial Bias in Health Care

Racial Bias in Health Care

and Health Challenges and Opportunities


David R. Williams, PhD, MPH,
Ronald Wyatt, MD MHA

This Viewpoint describes the contribution of racial bias to disparities in health care and discusses the need to increase awareness of disparities and work toward eliminating discrimination and its adverse effects.
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UAB MHRC Young Professionals had a hot time at Summer in the City

Wide angle shot of sponsor tables and guestsThe sixties rock band Lovin’ Spoonful summed up the YP Board’s new fundraiser with their song “Hot time, Summer in the City.”
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Research on Disparities in African American Men’s Health to Focus on Hypertension, Prostate Cancer, and Lifestyle Modification

CHAAMPS 2015Funding for four new research projects was announced by the Center for Healthy African American Men through Partnerships (CHAAMPS), the groundbreaking research collaborative dedicated to the unique health issues of African American men.
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MHRC News Feed

  • Upcoming MHRC Health Disparities Research Symposium examines the science of health disparities
    Upcoming MHRC Health Disparities Research Symposium examines the science of health disparities
    Guest speaker and former Surgeon General Regina Benjamin among many who will see new approaches and successful models of current health-disparities research.

    mona fouad 2012 Mona FouadThe UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC) will host the 2015 UAB Health Disparities Research Symposium, “The Science of Health Disparities: From Social Causes to Personalized Medicine,” March 17-18 in the DoubleTree by Hilton on 20th Street South in Birmingham. In its 10th year, the symposium highlights work by undergraduate, graduate and faculty researchers in the field of health disparities.

    “The symposium showcases the work being done to reduce health inequities in Alabama and our nation. It provides an overview of the latest in health-disparities research. Scientists and scholars look to it as an excellent opportunity to share discoveries, new approaches and successful models,” said Mona Fouad, M.D., MPH, director and professor, UAB Division of Preventive Medicine, and director of the UAB MHRC.

    Speaking at the dinner Tuesday, March 17, will be Regina Benjamin, M.D., MBA, the 18th surgeon general and professor and endowed chair in the Xavier University of Louisiana Department of Public Health Science.

    The 2015 conference is co-sponsored by three national transdisciplinary collaborative centers for health-disparities research: the Mid-South TCC, focused on the social determinants of health and led by Fouad; the Center for Healthy African American Men through Partnerships (CHAAMPS), led by Selwyn Vickers, M.D., dean of the UAB School of Medicine; and the Gulf States Health Policy Center, led by Benjamin.

    The symposium will feature seven plenary sessions:

    • Social Conditions as a Fundamental Cause of Health Disparities – Bruce Link, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and sociomedical sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
    • Challenges and Opportunities in Studying the Multilevel Determinants of Health – Ana Diez Roux, M.D., Ph.D., dean and Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology, Drexel University School of Public Health
    • Social Consequences of Genetic Explanations for Racial Differences in Health – Jo Phelan, Ph.D., professor of sociomedical sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
    • Personalized Medicine: Implications for Disparities in Drug Response – Nita Limdi, Pharm.D., Ph.D., professor UAB School of Medicine; director, UAB Personalized Medicine Institute
    • African-American Men’s Health: Breaking the Silence – Mark Alexander, Ph.D., 100 Black Men of America Inc.
    • Policy Solutions for Health Disparities – Brian Smedley, Ph.D., executive director, National Collaborative for Health Equity
    • Academic-Community Partnerships – Barbara A. Israel, Ph.D., professor of health behavior and health education, University of Michigan; and Zachary Rowe, executive director, Friends of Parkside

    In addition, UAB will announce the 2015 Excellence in Mentoring Awards and will present awards for oral presentations and poster presentations.

  • UAB Cancer Center and ASU receive grant to address cancer health disparities
    UAB Cancer Center and ASU receive grant to address cancer health disparities
    The UAB Cancer Center and Alabama State University receive $1.5 million NIH grant to create partnership and reduce cancer health disparities.

    upenderUpender Manne, UAB's lead principal investigator for the UAB Cancer Center/Alabama State University partnership, discusses cancer disparities with a researcher at a poster presentation.The University of Alabama at Birmingham  Comprehensive Cancer Center and Alabama State University have received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute that establishes a partnership to create a critical mass of research and researchers to reduce cancer health disparities in minorities.

    The grant will allow both institutions to conduct cancer-related research and training in terms of career development and education to aid underserved communities. The four-year project will be guided by two distinguished scientists at each institution.

    The grant, divided between the two institutions, is the culmination of a yearlong collaborative effort on the part of Upender Manne, Ph.D., M.S., professor in the UAB Department of Pathology, and Isabel Scarinci, Ph.D., MPH, professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine, and Manoj Mishra, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Karyn Scissum-Gunn, Ph.D., professor of Microbiology and associate provost of Academic Affairs at ASU.

    The specific aims of the partnership are to enhance, by development and mentorship of junior faculty members, the research and administrative infrastructure necessary to conduct competitive basic and community-based cancer research at ASU; to develop investigators committed to research in cancer disparities at both partnering institutions; and to establish a pipeline of minority cancer disparity researchers and health professionals between ASU and UAB.

    In the South, cancer health disparities are attributed to a variety of factors, including lifestyle, culture, environment, health care access, socioeconomics and population-specific genetic differences. Although community-based participatory research has gained national attention, the number of minority investigators to do this type of research is low. It has become increasingly important to build up the skilled manpower to conduct cancer disparities research that will aid in creating personalized cancer therapies for this segment of the population.

    “The idea is that, in view of the unequal burden of cancer borne by African-Americans, the locations of ASU and the UAB Cancer Center place this partnership in an ideal geographic region to address cancer health disparities within the state of Alabama by developing a pipeline of students, scientists and health care professionals from minority and medically underserved populations. Both institutions possess unique strengths that supplement each other.”

    “The idea is that, in view of the unequal burden of cancer borne by African-Americans, the locations of ASU and the UAB Cancer Center place this partnership in an ideal geographic region to address cancer health disparities within the state of Alabama by developing a pipeline of students, scientists and health care professionals from minority and medically underserved populations,” said Manne, lead principal investigator on the grant and a senior scientist at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Both institutions possess unique strengths that supplement each other.”

    At ASU, which is classified as a historically black college or university, more than 90 percent of the students and more than 60 percent of the faculty belong to a minority community in which health disparities are a significant issue in various areas, including cancer.

    “ASU is the ideal place for students and faculty to be invested in cancer disparities research,” Manne said.

    “This NIH/NCI grant will address relevant issues with a persistent, multifaceted strategy by combining multidisciplinary cancer research projects to unravel the basis for cancer disparities,” said Mishra, the lead principal investigator at ASU. “This grant will allow us to jump-start our cancer research and education programs for our faculty and students at ASU.”

    Basic research efforts will focus on prostate and colorectal cancers, which affect a disproportionate number of minority individuals.

    The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center has a long history of addressing cancer health disparities and has an extensive infrastructure in place that is needed for a sustained research program.

    Manne is also the UAB lead principal investigator of another NIH/NCI-funded partnership that was established among the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Morehouse School of Medicine and Tuskegee University, which has provided an ideal infrastructure to build the current UAB Cancer Center/ASU partnership. The UAB–Morehouse–Tuskegee partnership has contributed substantially to reducing the gaps in cancer incidence and morbidity and mortality between Caucasians and African-Americans, and it has enhanced the capabilities of the three institutions to conduct cancer research that is directly applicable to minority populations. Investigators in that partnership have published more than 100 manuscripts relating to health disparities.

    In addition,the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Deep South Network for Cancer Control is nationally recognized as a leader in community outreach for its work in increasing education and awareness of cancer in minority and underserved populations.

    “This grant builds upon and extends the goals and commitment of UAB and the Cancer Center to reduce cancer and health disparities,” said Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Furthermore, it strengthens efforts to advance cancer research, training and education for researchers at both UAB and ASU.”

    Students and others interested in cancer health disparities research may visit the Morehouse/Tuskegee/UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Partnership or the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center websites.

  • Nearly $3 million awarded to battle health disparities
    Nearly $3 million awarded to battle health disparities

    The “Birmingham REACH for Better Health” partnership aims to increase the number of people with access to healthy food and physical activity opportunities.

    minority health research center 2010 1The University of Alabama at Birmingham Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center won a competitive grant of nearly $3 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the gap in chronic diseases between blacks and whites in Birmingham by improving nutrition and physical activity in underserved African-American communities. 

    The award is part of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services initiative to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care spending.

    The project, “Birmingham REACH for Better Health,” is a partnership between UAB, the Jefferson County Department of Health, United Way of Central Alabama, Freshwater Land Trust, Birmingham YMCA, REV Birmingham, Safe Routes to School and the City of Birmingham.

    The project will last three years and reach more than 116,000 people.

    “Substandard nutrition and lack of physical activity are key factors driving the disparities in chronic disease between blacks and whites,” said Mona Fouad, the principal investigator of this new initiative and the director of the UAB MHRC and the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine. “One of the most efficient ways to improve population health and cut down health care costs is to ensure access to healthy food and physical activity. This, however, cannot be done effectively by a single individual or by a single organization. Collaboration is key for bringing about a change in policies, systems and environments that impact health.”

    Birmingham neighborhoods where at least 65 percent of the residents are African-American will be the main targets. Activities will be focused on improving nutrition and physical activity, which are risk factors for a number of chronic diseases.

    “Birmingham REACH for Better Health” aims to increase the number of people with access to healthy food and beverages from 22,000 currently to 100,000 by the end of 2017. The project will expand programs that deliver fresh food from local agriculture to restaurants, large retailers, corner stores, child care centers and schools.

    Also by the end of 2017, the initiative plans to increase the number of people with access to physical activity opportunities from 51,000 to 110,000. The project will expand the Safe Routes to School program, increase the number of streets with sidewalks, bike lanes or share-the-road signage, and boost the use of neighborhood trails and community parks.

    The eight partnering organizations in the project will work closely with one another to capitalize on strengths, leverage resources, ensure sustainability and ultimately reduce the burden of chronic diseases in Birmingham’s neighborhoods.

    To learn more about “Birmingham REACH for Better Health,” please contact Theresa Wynn-Wallace, Ph.D., at 205-934-6892 or twynn@uabmc.edu.

  • Isabel Scarinci to help expand global outreach for cancer in new role
    Isabel Scarinci to help expand global outreach for cancer in new role
    Isabel Scarinci, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor in UAB Division of Preventive Medicine, has been appointed to the newly created position of associate director of globalization and cancer in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

    Isabel Scarinci 2014-1Isabel Scarinci, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine, has been appointed associate director for globalization and cancer at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

    The National Cancer Institute has created a new Center for Global Health, and other agencies such as the American Cancer Society have also begun to address the increasing burden of cancer worldwide. As a longstanding NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, one of only 41 in the nation and the only one in the six-state Deep South region, UAB has many cancer research projects and other activities on the global front.

    “In an effort to be more proactive in our globalization efforts, we have created this new position to expand our global footprint,” said Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Our longstanding work in underresourced populations prepares us for this mission, and what we learn in other countries may well apply to our population also.”

    “In an effort to be more proactive in our globalization efforts, we have created this new position to expand our global footprint.”

    Scarinci is an associate scientist at the UAB Minority Health and Research Center, Comprehensive Cancer Center, John J. Sparkman Center for International Public Health Education, Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education, and the Center for Health Promotion. She has extensive experience in global research, currently with two funded projects in Brazil. She was most recently appointed honorary consul for Brazil and confirmed by the U.S. Department of State.

    Scarinci’s primary areas of interest are cancer prevention among low-income, minority Latinas and African-Americans, and immigrant women; socioeconomic status and health outcomes; and depression.

    “She is a true leader in community-based participatory research both at home and abroad and will bring extensive experience and vision to this senior leadership position and global initiative,” said Partridge.

  • Maya Angelou to be 'sorely missed' at UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center
    Maya Angelou to be 'sorely missed' at UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center
    Famed poet and author Maya Angelou, who died last week at 86, is still being mourned across the world and receiving tributes in scores of media outlets. And her loss was felt locally at the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC).
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