Florida International University researchers Dr. Mario De La Rosa, Dr. Andrés Gil, Dr. Elena Bastida and Dr. Juan Acuna have received an endowment to establish a program focused on preventing and treating obesity, diabetes, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. The program, dubbed the FIU Health Disparities Initiative, is funded by a $9.5 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Endowment Program.
“This endowment will allow us to take our health disparities work to the next level,” said Dr. Gil. Dr. De La Rosa added, “This endowment means that FIU is on track to become one of the premier health disparities academic training and research programs in the country, serving the region of the United States and the Western Hemisphere that is most in need of such a program.”
FIU-HDI will be able to recruit doctoral-level health disparities researchers who will conduct studies leading to solutions for reducing HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, obesity and diabetes in vulnerable populations across all age groups in South Florida and the Caribbean region. Additionally, the endowment will support three endowed faculty positions with expertise in health disparities and the establishment of a doctoral track in health disparities at of FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work. FIU-HDI will also expand and strengthen the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine curriculum by exposing medical students to health disparities research, and the increased capacity afforded by the endowment will help establish a health disparities innovation and technology transfer initiative within the Office of Innovation and Economic Development. Development of technologies will focus on reducing health disparities.
Dr. Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of FIU Stempel College said, “The FIU-HDI leverages the different disciplines and strengths of our university so that we’re able to get a holistic look at the problems of obesity, diabetes, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. But one of its most significant aspects will be the ability to create new technologies to help us effectively address health disparities.”