UAB MHRC honors eight with health disparities awards

Annual minority health awards jump start research for junior faculty.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center presented its 2011 Health Disparities Awards to eight individuals for their commitment to improving minority health. The awards given include five for research, three for mentoring and the UAB MHRC’s first Charles Barkley Health Disparities Philanthropy of the Year Award.

Alabama Natural Gas Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer Dudley Reynolds received the inaugural philanthropy award for his unwavering support of the UAB MHRC mission since 2003.

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Mona Fouad, M.D.

“Dudley Reynolds’ dedication to our work has never ceased,” says UAB MHRC Director Mona Fouad, M.D. “As co-chair of our second gala, he helped position the mission of the MHRC as a top priority in this community. With his charismatic leadership, keen interest and true commitment, he rallied his corporate peers to understand the importance of this mission and to invest in it.”

Reynolds has taken part in many of the center’s events, from walking in the launch of its WALK Feel Alive program at Legion Field to attending the regional UAB Community Health Advisors meeting to see the MHRC work at the grassroots level. “His generosity, compassion, and optimism have played an invaluable role in allowing us to bring the latest scientific knowledge to thousands of under-served minority families, and we are delighted to honor and thank him for his continued support,” Fouad says.

Research awards

Research awards provide $30,000 each toward five pilot research projects focused on health disparities in minority populations. Faculty from UAB, Morehouse School of Medicine, Tuskegee University and the University of Alabama are eligible to compete.

“The mission of the MHRC is to improve health outcomes in our region through research, training and professional development and outreach,” Fouad says. “By investing in innovative health-disparities research, we allow promising new researchers to tackle complex, urgent health questions and lay the groundwork for them to secure funding to continue their important work.”

Since 2005, the UAB MHRC has provided $810,000 in pilot funding to 28 UAB junior faculty; this investment has brought a return of $14.5 million in subsequent extramural funding awarded to 18 recipients.

Four received Charles Barkley Health Disparities Research Awards:

For health disparities research by a UAB minority investigator

  • Olivio Clay, Ph.D., assistant professor, UAB College of Arts & Sciences Department of Psychology, for his project, “Racial Differences in Diabetes Distress: Factors Related to Health Disparities.” The award is matched by the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science for a total of $60,000 in pilot funding.

    For health disparities research in the African-American or Hispanic/Latino populations

    • Gareth Dutton, Ph.D., associate professor, UAB School of Medicine Division of Preventive Medicine, for his project, “An Obesity-Prevention Program for African-American Female High-School Students.”
    • Shantel Hébert-Magee, M.D., assistant professor, UAB School of Medicine Department of Pathology, for her project, “Prognostic and Therapeutic Significance of P53 Codon 72 Polymorphism in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in African-American Women.”
    • Dorothy Pekmezi, Ph.D., assistant professor, UAB School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior, for her project, “Feasibility/Acceptability of Using Interactive Internet Technology to Promote Physical Activity in Latinas.”

    One received the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama Health Disparities Research Award:

    For childhood obesity research

    • Terri Magruder, M.D., assistant professor, UAB School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, for her project, “Effects of Exercise on Asthmatic Responses in Obese Pediatric Asthmatics: A Multi-Investigator Study.”

      2011 Charles Barkley Excellence in Mentoring Awards

      Mentoring awards recognize faculty who have provided outstanding mentoring and contributed substantially to the career development and retention of students and scholars interested in health disparities. Mentors from UAB, Morehouse School of Medicine, Tuskegee University and University of Alabama are eligible.

      These 2011 winners, nominated by their mentees, receive $500:

      • Andrea Cherrington, M.D., assistant professor, UAB School of Medicine Division of Preventive Medicine, nominated by Amanda Willig, Ph.D., also of UAB.
      • Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., professor, UAB School of Health Professions Department of Nutrition Sciences, and associate director for cancer prevention and control, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, nominated by Krista Casazza, Ph.D., also of UAB.
      • John Higginbotham, Ph.D., associate dean for research and health policy; professor and chair, Department of Community and Rural Medicine; director, Institute for Rural Health Research, University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, nominated by Lea Yerby, also of the University of Alabama.

      “Mentors help shape the career paths of up-and-coming young scholars, so it’s important we foster strong mentoring through the UAB MHRC,” Fouad says. “Our winners are celebrated for developing strong academic and community collaborations, encouraging scholars to ask the right questions and setting high standards for the research profession. We honor the outstanding example they set to all faculty and the enormous impact they have on the field of health disparities.”

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