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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Pitt Center for Minority Health Receives $6 Million From NIH to Help Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

PITTSBURGH, January 9, 2003 The Center for Minority Health in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh received a $6 million grant from the National Institute of Health's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, it was announced today at a press conference at the University Club.

The purpose of the grant is to establish a center of excellence designed to support community partnerships, outreach, research and training needed to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.

The project, titled EXPORT Health, provides five years of core resources needed to support a multidisciplinary team of faculty scholars working in partnership with civic organizations, the faith community and private business.

The grant will focus on seven critical objectives over the next five years: enhance support for and participation in research by the African American community; develop a participatory research program whereby the community identifies and participates in research that is needed to address community needs; translate research into usable guidelines for culturally competent and scientifically sound interventions, clinical practice and prevention activities; expand dissemination of relevant health education and health information to community members and health care providers; train the State Health Improvement Partnerships (SHIPs ) to develop and sustain health promotion and disease prevention activities; implement educational programs to increase understanding of determinants of health disparities and enhance cultural competence in order to strengthen research and practice, and increase the number of African American and Latino students entering graduate degree programs in the health sciences schools at the University of Pittsburgh.

We have demonstrated that the wise investment from local foundations has now been leveraged to secure support from the National Institutes of Health. We have made a transition to a new level of excellence, said principal investigator Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D, the Philip Hallen professor of community health and social justice and director of the Center for Minority Health. As we enter 2003, I am pleased to report that the Center for Minority Health has secured approximately $8.5 million, all devoted to our campaign to promote health and prevent disease, especially for racial and ethnic minority populations.

Other funds received by the Center for Minority Health over the past two years include:

  • $450,000 multiyear award from the Pittsburgh Foundation to support the African American Health Promotion Campaign: Countdown to 2010;
  • $150,000 from the Heinz Endowments;
  • $300,000 from the State Department of Health;
  • $50,000 from Dr. Judith Davenport;
  • $10,000 from Gateway Health Plan; and
  • A yet-to-be-announced commitment from GlaxoSmithKline.

Over the past two years the Center has emerged as a leader in building community capacity to eliminate health disparities. Major accomplishments include:

  • National Minority Health Leadership Summit: For the past three years, minority health leaders and scholars from around the United States have convened in Pittsburgh for a two-day summit on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities. The focus of the 2003 summit is on bridging the gap between researchers and the community.
  • Community Research Advisory Board: In 2001, the Center for Minority Health established a Community Research Advisory Board in response to community demands for better communication between academic researchers, local health care providers and the African American community.
  • BWHOLE (Black Women and Health Outreach for Longer Life and Empowerment) was established at the Center for Minority Health to provide a link for connecting black women to health information, resources, support and sisterhood.
  • Technical Assistance: The Center for Minority Health provides technical assistance to research investigators and health care agencies in several areas, including cultural competency, health communication and health literacy, and program improvement evaluation.
  • African American Health Promotion Campaign (AAHPC): A collaboration among several Pittsburgh institutions, the AAHPC focuses on the seven national priority areas (infant mortality, immunization, cancer screening and management, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and mental health). The campaign will analyze, package and disseminate public health and medical research findings to the black community; build the capacity of local organizations to initiate health promotion and disease prevention activities in the black community; and translate scientific knowledge about health promotion and disease prevention into steps people can use in their everyday lives. The campaign is funded by The Pittsburgh Foundation.
  • African American Health Disparities Working Groups: These groups were established to bring together a diverse group of individuals interested in addressing health disparities. Each group is developing a plan for implementing a health promotion activity during Black History month (February 2003).
  • Health Promotion Sundays: At four area churches during the month of April 2002 (National Minority Health Month), organizers offered blood pressure checks, body weight analysis, basic risk assessments for parishioners. They also provided information about diet, exercise and early detection, with reference to the leading causes of death for African Americans in Pittsburgh. Clergy in each neighborhood delivered sermons on health-related topics.
  • Tobacco Prevention Clearinghouse: The CMH will help to initiate a comprehensive tobacco control program to communities in Pennsylvania consistent with the State Health Improvement Plan, and in cooperation with the local Community Health Improvement partnerships. The Tobacco Prevention Clearinghouse is a collaboration with the Pennsylvania State Health Department, and the Hahnemann University School of Public Health in Philadelphia.
  • Measles Immunization Campaign: According to state law, Pittsburgh school children faced mandatory suspension on May 1, 2001, if certifications of their MMR booster shots were not filed with their schools. Despite a year of hard work, more than 11,000 students, mostly minority, had not complied by late March. The CMH led a collaborative campaign that resulted in more than 96 percent of the 11,000 children complying with the state law.
  • State Health Improvement Partnerships (SHIP): CMH received one of six state grants to help create and support community-based programs for minority health issues in collaboration with several academic and community partners.
  • EXCEED (Center for Excellence in Eliminating Disparities): EXCEED was implemented in January 2001 at the Graduate School of Public Health. Funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), EXCEED currently consists of four research studies designed to address the well-documented disparities between minority and majority adult Americans. EXCEED also provides training and practical research experience for a group of investigators who are representative of minority populations.
  • Center for Minority Health Satellites: CMH satellites have been established at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and at the Lemington Eldercare Services, Community Center.
  • Healthy Urban Habitat: Funded by the Maurice Falk Medical Fund, and led by Columbia University professors Robert and Mindy Fullilove, the Healthy Urban Habitat addressed issues related to the psychology of place in the Hill District, an urban community destined to change through displacement and urban redevelopment. The project published Envisioning a Healthy Urban Habitat and produced a conference entitled The Power of Place: What Makes a Neighborhood Home.

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