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Stephen Thomas, Ph.D.

Stephen Thomas, Ph.D.

University Of Pittsburgh Announces Establishment Of Minority Health Archive

Pittsburgh, January 6, 2005 — The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Minority Health (CMH) of the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) and the University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS) have joined to develop the Minority Health Archive (MHA) as an online repository for minority health documents.

The MHA is scheduled for public launch on Sunday, Jan. 8 at the National Leadership Summit on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health in Washington, D.C.

“The summit represents an important milestone in the history of the national movement to improve the health status of all Americans, especially people who are poorly served, underserved and never served,” said Stephen Thomas, Ph.D., director of the CMH and the Philip Hallen Professor of Community Health and Social Justice in GSPH who will serve as executive editor of the archive.

“Unfortunately, much of the history of minority health is recorded in federal documents, foundation reports, legislation and organizational proceedings, which are not readily available to the general public and may be missed by academic programs training the next generation of health professionals. The Minority Health Archive is our contribution to address this problem,” Dr. Thomas said.

The MHA takes full advantage of the latest information technology being used by the University of Pittsburgh Library System. In addition to being the first electronic archive devoted solely to minority health and health disparity research, it has special features that allow individuals outside of the university to post resources to the archive for approval by the editors.

“It is the open access that represents a critical breakthrough in advancing the flow of communication and knowledge needed to advance minority health in the 21st century,” Thomas said.

“We at the ULS are pleased to be able to provide the technical support for the Minority Health Archive. This is our fifth discipline-wide open-access archive in partnership with distinguished faculty and academic programs at the University of Pittsburgh,” said Rush G. Miller, Ph.D., Hillman University Librarian and director of the University of Pittsburgh Library System.

To date, the MHA maintains all of the National Institutes of Health strategic plans for the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities by 2010. It also holds limited released photos from the controversial Tuskegee Syphilis Study (1932-1972). An official apology was issued by President Bill Clinton on May 16, 1997, 25 years after the study ended.

Many other resources relating to the health of the seven U.S.-recognized minority racial and ethnic groups (Black/African American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Alaska Native, Native American/American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Latino) are contained in the MHA.

The MHA is made possible by EPrints software, a tool for building collections of digital documents. Through its ‘author self-archiving’ feature, the software provides an easy way for registered users to deposit a digital document in a publicly accessible Website at no cost and in less than 10 minutes through a simple Web interface. Scholars can use this software to disseminate research results rapidly and to foster subject-specific collaborative global research communities.

A wide variety of materials may be deposited in the archive, including scholarly research papers (either fully peer-reviewed articles or pre-print manuscripts), government documents, theses and dissertations, newsletters or even photographic images. The archive also is designed to store an abundance of material categorized as ‘grey’ literature - working papers, white papers, policy papers and technical reports - highly valuable information that is often not widely distributed in paper format.

Access to the archive is free and open to the general public worldwide. Registered users may subscribe to free e-mail updates, notifying them when new materials appear in the archive in their specific areas of interest. The archive may be accessed at http://minority-health.pitt.edu/.

The MHA complies with the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) standard, which allows cross-searching of content stored in widely dispersed electronic repositories. Since all OAI-compliant archives use the same shared code for metadata (e.g., “date,” “author,” “title,” “journal,” etc.), their metadata can be “harvested” and all the documents can then be jointly searched and retrieved as if they were all in one global collection, accessible to everyone.

CMH was established in 1994 with a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and is committed to taking a leading role in the nation's prevention agenda to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities as described in Healthy People 2010, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services initiative. Details about the other CMH activities can be viewed on the CMH Web site at www.cmh.pitt.edu. The telephone number of CMH is 412-624-5665.

Founded in 1948 and fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, GSPH is world-renowned for contributions that have influenced public health practices and medical care for millions of people. One of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, GSPH was the first fully accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with alumni who are among the leaders in their fields of public health. A member of the Association of Schools of Public Health, GSPH currently ranks third among schools of public health in National Institutes of Health funding received. The only school of public health in the nation with a chair in minority health, GSPH is a leader in research related to women’s health, HIV/AIDS and human genetics, among others. For more information about GSPH, please visit the school’s Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu/ .

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