The South Carolina Rural Health Research Center was launched in the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health in 2000 and has been continuously funded by multiple agencies ever since. For the past 15 years, it has been directed by health services policy and management (HSPM) professor Dr. Janice Probst, who had served as the Center’s deputy director for its first three years.
“Over the past 18 years, Dr. Probst has taken on a key leadership role within the Arnold School in health disparities and other related research questions of importance to rural populations,” says Arnold School Dean Thomas Chandler. “The Center has become very well known for its efforts to improve rural and minority health in the South.”
This fall, the Center has been relaunched under the direction of epidemiology and biostatistics associate professor Dr. Jan Eberth. Following the same path as her mentor, Dr. Eberth served as deputy director for three years prior to assuming the director position. HSPM assistant professor Dr. Elizabeth Crouch will take over Dr. Eberth’s previous role as deputy director.
The Center has also been renamed the Rural and Minority Health Research Center, reflecting the Center’s mission to illuminate and address the problems experienced by rural and minority populations in order to guide research, policy and related advocacy. Their goals include developing methods and conducting research necessary to provide a clear picture of health status, healthcare needs, and health services utilization patterns of rural and minority populations. They also investigate the effectiveness of policies aimed at improving health and reducing barriers to care among rural and minority populations, especially those living in poverty. In pursuing these goals, the Center seeks to develop collaborations among researchers, public health practitioners, and policymakers across the state.
“With a renewed and revised focus, the Rural and Minority Health Research Center investigates the persistent inequities experienced by rural and minority populations, especially those stemming from macro-level factors such as neighborhood socioeconomic status, policy environments, and access to healthcare services,” says Dr. Eberth. “The Center is very collaborative across disciplinary lines. We strive to make our research useful to organizations and individuals across sectors working for the common goal of improving the health of rural and minority communities.”
Like Dr. Probst, Dr. Eberth focuses much of her own research program on health inequities. Her work, which primarily examines cancer prevention and treatment disparities, encompasses the larger goals of identifying policy- and systems-level solutions to make health equity a reality for all.