SDSU was recently awarded $19.9 million from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), a division within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This award is the second largest grant in SDSU’s history, and the largest award received by the university from the NIH ever. SDSU, a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution, was presented with this 5-year award given its lack of research infrastructure yet strong commitment to health disparities research. The grant funding will go towards building research capacity at SDSU and its partner institutions by creating core facilities and resources.
This award will create the new SDSU HealthLINK Center for Transdisciplinary Health Disparities Research. Activities of the Center will occur throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. Dr. Guadalupe X. Ayala, professor of Public h ealth and Dr. Kristen J. Wells, associate professor of Psychology, will lead the Center. They are joined by faculty in Public Health, Physical Therapy, Engineering, Geography, Computational Sciences, Statistics, Biology, among others, to tackle major health issues such as obesity, cancer and pain. As part of this effort, they intend to strengthen partnerships between SDSU and community health entities such as the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, and federally qualified health centers such as Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, Inc. and Family Health Centers of San Diego.
SDSU HealthLINK will promote and support research and evidence-based practices to improve the well-being of these regions’ underserved populations. Furthermore, the Center’s research will seek the most effective ways of applying research to real-world practice, such as leveraging electronic health record and social media data to improve how healthcare and other services are delivered to those most in need. More than 24 faculty members are involved in the new Center’s transdisciplinary collaborations. Both experienced investigators and early career scientists pair up to ensure that the next generation of professionals are conducting meaningful health disparities research.
SDSU HealthLINK will ensure that minority health and health disparities research receives the attention it deserves at SDSU. Each year, four post-doctoral fellows or early career scientists at SDSU will receive between $30,000 and $50,000/each to fund a pilot project, plus mentorship and guidance in establishing a program of research at SDSU. “This award will go a long way to providing SDSU faculty what they need to be successful in their careers at SDSU. The Center is exactly what our school needs to more effectively advance our research agenda in health disparities”, states School of Public Health director, Dr. Hala Madanat