Funded Initiatives and Collaborations

African Americans are not all alike - physically, in our behaviors, belief systems, or what we do for employment and enjoyment. In this project, we will focus on the concept of resilience - how many African Americans stay healthy despite challenging circumstances and adverse conditions. Insights on resilience may point the way to new approaches to resolving health disparities. The overall goal of the MECA project is to launch a novel multi-level investigation into the characteristics and the determinants of resilience among African Americans in the US as a source of insights that could yield effective approaches to reducing risk, disease and death. The fact that African Americans are a high risk population is well documented; however, not all African Americans have poor CV health, and often have good health despite the ethnically-determined challenges to health and vigor. These facts attest to the existence of resilience within the black population which is vastly underexplored. If successful, this work could be instrumental in moving from what we think can or should work in the African American community, to what actually does work for the those who are free of heart disease (more than 85% of blacks), free of diabetes (over 80%) free of high blood pressure (>50%).   

The three projects link tightly and logically: Identification of resilience nurturing communities will allow recruitment of resilient individuals for metabolomics testing and psychosocial/clinical assessment before and after a novel computer-assisted intervention. This will allow the study of the metabolomics signatures of resilience and risk as they appear in African Americans, and the extent to which public health and molecular variables influence response to a novel clinical intervention.

  1. Morehouse-Emory CArdiovascular Center for Health Equity (MECA)
  2. Minority Health Genomics and Translational Research BIo-Repository Database Network (MH-GRID)

  3. Adapting Evidence-Based Epilepsy Self-Management Programs for Blacks in Georgia
      • Epilepsy self-management can improve treatment outcomes and overall quality of life for people with epilepsy. Using a community-engaged approach—including a Community Advisory Committee, focus groups, and interviews of community stakeholders—this project proposes to replicate the use of Project UPLIFT among African Americans, and to disseminate three CDC's Managing Epilepsy Well Network products in Atlanta and around Georgia. The goals of this research are to promote the adoption and replication of self-management programs in underserved communities, and to understand the features that facilitate dissemination, replication, and adoption of these programs among people with epilepsy. Rakale C. Quarells, PhD (Morehouse School of Medicine) is Principal Investigator and Nancy Thompson, PhD (Emory University) is Co-Principal Investigator. This special interest project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More information about this Managing Epilepsy Well Network may be found at

  4. The National Spirituality & Health Consortium - There is increasing interest in the health effects of spirituality, and CVRI is participating in a cutting-edge scientific investigation of religion, spirituality and health across multiple ethnic groups and faith traditions. Through its partnership with the Jackson Heart Study, the CVRI has joined the Harvard MGH Center of Genomics to research the most racially and ethnically diverse dataset ever created to study: the impact of psychosocial stressors on genes, the relationship of biomarkers to disease risk and mortality and the effect of spirituality & religiosity on genes, disease risk and mortality.

  5. The Football Players Health Study - The Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) is collaborating with investigators at Harvard University through the Football Players Health Study. The goal of the Football Players Health Study is to understand total player health across the life span. Cardiac health is an important concern. The CVRI Director is a lead Co-Investigator focused on the Players Cohort Study, the largest Study of former NFL Players ever conducted (over 3,000 participants). We seek to improve the health and well-being of former NFL players, while furthering our understanding of the benefits – and the risks – of participating in football and other collision sports.