Initiatives, Grants Address Health Disparities, Increase Awareness Among Minorities
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- Boston: CDC has awarded Boston a five-year grant worth nearly $4 million to further address health care disparities in black communities, Mayor Thomas Menino announced on Monday, the Boston Globe reports. CDC officially designated the city a Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities. The grant money also can be used in surrounding cities. In a letter to the city, CDC officials said Boston was chosen to receive the grant to "build upon the successes" previously demonstrated and to share those successes with other communities (Smith, Boston Globe, 10/3). Menino in 2005 declared racial health disparities as the city's most urgent issue. The Boston Public Health Commission developed a plan to address the issue (Kaiser Minority Health Disparities Report, 3/13). Health ambassadors in the city for the past seven years have gone into black communities to educate individuals on prevalent health issues among the group, such as breast and cervical cancer and cardiovascular disease (Boston Globe, 10/3).
- Miami: The Miami Human Services Coalition has honored Astrid Mack, a research associate professor of medicine and associate dean for minority affairs at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, for his research on sickle cell disease and his contributions to the local black community, the Miami Herald reports. Mack, who received the Clay Hamilton Memorial Hope Award, also directs a program that seeks to encourage minorities to pursue careers in health sciences (Miami Herald, 10/4).
- North Carolina: The Culturally Based Native Health Program, a collaborative effort among the Eastern Band of Cherokee American Indians, Western Carolina University and Wake Forest University, has introduced a new program that seeks to encourage Cherokee American Indian high school students to enter the health field, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. The program, which began in Cherokee, N.C., in August 2006, focuses on the cultural issues related to delivering care to American Indians. As a part of that effort, the Medical Career Counseling and Technologies program -- through mentoring, training, summer programs and research opportunities -- will offer about 15 students the opportunity to receive academic tutoring, college counseling and financial planning to become health care professionals. The students also will participate in hands-on health care learning activities for one week at Wake Forest (Bompey, Asheville Citizen-Times, 10/2).
- Washington, D.C.: CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and MedStar Research Institute have partnered for a program that will train Washington, D.C., barbers and hair stylists in black communities to conduct blood pressure and obesity screenings as part of an effort to identify individuals at risk for heart disease, stroke and end-stage kidney disease. The program -- Hair, Heart, Health -- is similar to an effort launched in Baltimore last year. The District of Columbia program will target black adults in barber shops and hair salons in communities with high black populations (CareFirst release, 10/1).
NIH: NIH has awarded a five-year, $8 million grant that in part will go toward increasing the ethnic diversity of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange database, according to lead researcher Clara Lajonchere, a research assistant professor at the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering. The database is the world's largest resource for autism research and is overseen by Lajonchere. The overall goal of the database is to survey the genetic, physical and behavioral profiles of autistic children. Study participants for autism are mostly white, and the grant will help researchers recruit ethnically diverse families and double the number of participants in the database, Lajonchere said. The research will be organized under a new Center for Genomic and Phenomic Studies in Autism (USC release, 10/3).