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    National Institute for Minority Health Awards Morehouse School of Medicine $5.7 million for Center of Excellence in Health Disparities Ronald L. Braithwaite, Ph.D. named principle investigator

     The National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities has awarded Morehouse School of Medicine $5.7  million over the next five years to continue the Center of Excellence in Health Disparities (CEHD).  Morehouse  School of Medicine has a longstanding and passionate commitment to serving the underserved community and  advancing minority health and will maintain its strategic vision for a community-centered approach and translate its  research to community-based solutions that impact health disparities.

     CEHD has long-cultivated minority scientists and leaders, and will continue to educate the community to become  empowered consumers of health information.  Integrated with a network of partnerships including academic institutions, civic organizations, government agencies, community-based organizations, schools, prisons, neighborhood clinics, health providers and policy makers, CEHD will study and document how genuine community engagement and participation in research can facilitate health promotion and disease prevention in African-American facilities and communities.

    Future research projects include: 
    1. Women’s Health Intervention Study (WHIS) – With principal investigator Rhonda Holliday, Ph.D., this intervention study will assess incarcerated women returning from prison and assess strategies for reintegration with their families and community life.
    2. Determinants and Consequences of Second-hand Smoke Exposure in African American Children – Led by Sharon Davis, Ph.D., this project will provide the first in-depth characterization of the social determinants and effects of SHS exposure on cardiovascular, metabolic and pulmonary health in AA children.  These studies will provide new insights that will guide the development of more effective interventions to prevent tobacco exposure in AA families.
    3. Smart and Secure Children (SSC) – Led by David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D. and Martha Okafor, Ph.D., this project seeks to improve the knowledge and skills of parents of children 0-5 years of age through a cultural relevant parenting curriculum as a strategy for reducing disparities in health. 

    The work of the CEHD will be implemented through an Administrative Core, Research Core, Research Education and Training Core, and a Community Engagement Core interfacing with residents from Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Units V, X, Y and Z.  What makes CEHD unique is unique is its community engagement core – which calls for the community to be involved in every phase of the research projects. This means that community representatives identify the community’s most important health problems as the focus of the study, partner with the academic research team in choosing the research question and method, participate in conducting the study, and help interpret and disseminate the results.

    The Research Core of CEHD will aggregate the research support capacity of the Morehouse School of Medicine Biostatistics, Study Design, and Data Management Core (BSDDMC) and its collaborating partners:  the Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design (BERD) Program of the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Sciences Institutes (ACTSI) and the Research Centers at Minority Institutions (RCMI) Translational Research Network (RTRN) Data Technology and Coordinating Center (DTCC,) affiliated with Jackson State University.  This collaboration allows the Research Core to meet the growing needs of the Morehouse School of Medicine research community through this Center of Excellence as well as further stimulate institutional collaborations in health disparities research with RCMI member institutions.

    The Center for Excellence in Health Disparities is part of the Morehouse School of Medicine’s vision to advance the model for healthcare in the U.S. Dr. Braithwaite is leading an effort to not only focus on patient-centered care, but patient-centered research through communities.

    “Dr. Braithwaite is a pioneer,” said Valerie Montgomery Rice, dean and executive vice president of Morehouse School of Medicine.  “His work along with our many other talented investigators on this project are the epitome of what our healthcare model needs – and exactly how Morehouse School of Medicine wishes to shape the future of our healthcare: Patient-Centered.” ■