Drs. Faith Fletcher and Yamile Molina, both assistant professors of community health sciences at the UIC School of Public Health, were selected, from among hundreds of applicants, to receive the National Minority Quality Forum’s 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health award. The award recognizes accomplishments in the health field and potential to continue to have a positive impact on minority communities. They will be recognized at the NMQF Leadership Summit and Spring Health Braintrust Annual Awards Dinner on April 25, 2017. Drs. Fletcher and Dr. Molina are both fellows in the UIC Building Interdisciplinary Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) initiative.
[Photo: Dr. Faith Fletcher]
Dr. Fletcher is currently leading and/or collaborating on three research projects designed to reduce health disparities in underserved communities in collaboration with key stakeholders. The first project formally established a community-academic partnership between UIC’s School of Public Health, UIC College of Medicine and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago to understand and address the reproductive and sexual health needs of women living with and affected by HIV. Dr. Fletcher’s second project will expand services at the Community Outreach Intervention Projects (COIP) to include HIV testing and counseling, substance use screening and treatment, and a social support intervention for 13-24 year-old African American girls and women. COIP was founded in 1986 to address HIV/AIDS, particularly among serious substance users and operates from five storefront sites in Chicago to deliver care and assist in conducting research. The third project is adapting a multi-component, culturally targeted, HIV prevention program for African American mothers and their 14-18 year-old daughters for use with 11-13 year-old African American girls and their female caregivers. A key uniqueness of her work is the application of a bioethics and reproductive justice framework. “Dr. Fletcher’s commitment to minority health and achieving health equity is also evident in her teaching, service, and mentoring,” said Dr. Lorranie Conroy, interim dean for the UIC School of Public Health. “She brings together her methodological expertise, bioethics and social justice frameworks, and innovative teaching style to build critical thinking and analytical skills and foster public health understanding to examine models and theories in health behavior to address public health problems,” said Dr. Conroy.
[Photo: Dr. Yamile Molina]
As illustrated by her funding and publication record, Dr. Molina’s work is focused on reducing or eliminating health inequities among Latinas and African Americans. She is approaching this through a combination of approaches to understand barriers, develop and test interventions, and change policy. She is currently the principal investigator on one project funded by the National Cancer Institute, two projects funded by the UIC Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy and another funded by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Her primary focus concerns assessing the extent to which participation in health-related civic engagement leads to improved health behaviors – specifically breast cancer care – among Latina volunteers and resources within their communities. Dr. Molina’s commitment to promoting health equity extends beyond her research. She works with a number of community and practice-based partners to promote breast cancer care and care for people living with HIV. Her assistance to these organizations has led to successful funding initiatives and increased programing in the communities served by these organizations. “Dr. Molina has shown a great aptitude for collaborating with students, peers and senior faculty,” said Dr. Conroy. “Her collaborations both at the UIC Center for Research on Women and Gender and the Cancer Center has resulted in several projects serving underrepresented groups. Her teaching and mentoring are advancing the skills and impact of the public health workforce and the next generation of public health researchers.”