UAB Health Disparities Research Symposium

The UAB Health Disparities Research Symposium highlights the work of undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and community investigators in basic science, clinical, behavioral, social sciences research and community-based research related to health disparities.

UAB tackles strategies to improve minority health

On May 3, about 210 physicians, scientists, academic investigators, community partners, and students convened at the annual UAB Health Disparities Research Symposium to share the latest research in the field of health disparities. Participants took an in-depth look at the role of social determinants, discussing the complex factors that affect the health of communities and how to improve the nation’s health.

“Eliminating health disparities makes the entire population healthier,” said Mona Fouad, MD, MPH, Director of the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC). “We want to bring people together to address the issue of health disparities, which unfortunately is very complex,” Fouad said. “The MHRC connects different academic disciplines to investigate differences in health outcomes while developing partnerships with communities to put research into action to improve population health,” she added.

The symposium began 12 years ago to bring in scientists and community members to share their knowledge, interventions and models, and learn from each other to address health problems.  This year’s focus was the role of social determinants in population health.

Keynote speaker, Catarina Kiefe, PhD, MD, Chair and Professor, Department of Quantitative Health Sciences and Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said there is a “striking need for equity of health care” throughout the nation. There is a recognized pathway from poverty to Type 2 diabetes. “Socioeconomic deprivation is linked to relative risk,” Kiefe said. “We know that poverty, race and ethnicity are strongly associated with Type 2 diabetes. There’s strong observational evidence that links Type 2 diabetes to minority, racial and ethnic status.”

Also speaking was Jeroan Allison, MD, MS, Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences at University of Massachusetts Medical School. He discussed how to fix the social determinants of health, citing emerging lessons from education, practice and policy.

Other symposium highlights included oral presentations and poster sessions featuring original health disparities research in basic science, clinical research, social and behavioral science, and community-based research.

The year’s symposium is produced by the MHRC and co-sponsored by two national centers for health disparities research: Mid-South Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center, led by Mona Fouad, MD, MPH, and Gulf States Health Policy Center, led by Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, Founder and CEO of BayouClinic and 18th U.S. Surgeon General.

National experts were featured speakers at the 2017 symposium 

Kiefe CatarinaCatarina Kiefe, PhD, MD is the Inaugural Melvin S. and Sandra L. Cutler Chair in Biomedical Research, Chair of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Dr. Kiefe began as a mathematician, earning her doctoral degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She then earned her MD at the University of California, San Francisco. She specialized in internal medicine, completing her residency at the University of Minnesota Hospitals and Clinics. Now, as the inaugural chair of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), she combines the rigor of mathematics with the needs of clinical medicine. She draws upon the intellectual curiosity and drive for discovery that marked her early career as an abstract researcher, using it to help her lead an applied research program with the objective of improving healthcare outcomes for individuals and populations.

Before moving to UMMS in 2009, Dr. Kiefe was Chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine and founding Director of the Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education (COERE) at UAB. While building her new Department at UMMS, Kiefe has actively maintained her research interests in the area of cardiovascular outcomes and effectiveness research, measuring quality of care, and in conducting federally funded cluster-randomized trials to change practice patterns. She has been continuously funded as PI by NIH, PCORI, or AHRQ   for more than 25 years. She has about 250 peer-reviewed publications, has served on or lead multiple national and international scientific advisory boards and is co-Editor-in-chief (with Jeroan Allison) of Medical Care, a premier journal in health services research. 

Jeroan AllisonJeroan Allison, MD, MS is Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he also serves as Associate Vice Provost for Health Disparities Research.

Dr. Allison’s research focuses on quality measurement, implementation science, and statistical methodology, with an emphasis on eliminating racial/ethnic disparities in medical care and health outcomes. Dr. Allison has a ten-year history of sustained funding from several extra-mural sources, including the NIH, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Along with Dr. Catarina Kiefe, Dr. Allison is co-Editor-in-Chief of Medical Care, sponsored by American Public Health Association. Dr. Allison has more than 200 peer-reviewed publications in print or press. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and received a Masters’ degree in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.


Photo Gallery

2017: The Role of Social Determinants in Population Health 

2017 Symposium Abstracts
Call for Abstracts

Previous Symposia
2016: The Science of Health Disparities: From Discovery to Delivery 
Symposium Program with Abstracts
Symposium Agenda
Call for Abstracts
Abstract Guidelines with Submission Link

2015: From Social Causes to Personalized Medicine
UAB HDRS Plenary Session Videos and Slides
UAB HDRS Program/Agenda
UAB HDRS Program + Abstracts

UAB HDRS Dinner Reception Agenda
UAB Health Disparities Research Symposium (HDRS)

2014: Integrating Social and Biological Factors in Health Disparities Research

2013: Health Disparities: Where Biology, Behavior, and Socioeconomics Converge

2012: The Science of Eliminating Health Disparities

2011: The Science of Eliminating Health Disparities

2010: The Science of Eliminating Health Disparities

2009: Health Disparities and Genomics

2008: Health Disparities: From Discovery to Delivery

2007: Health Disparities: From Discovery to Delivery

2006: Eliminating Health Disparities: Obesity & Diabetes

2005: Minority Research Day