June 5, 2009
  News Briefs


Health Disparities conference highlights prevention
About 350 health care providers and community health professionals joined UNT Health Science Center faculty and students at the fourth annual Texas Conference on Health Disparities May 28-29.  The conference featured nationally recognized speakers and interactive debates highlighting the striking differences in health status among racial and ethnic minorities and the general U.S. population.  Guest speakers and panelists highlighted ongoing research programs -- including community engagement programs -- that aim at understanding the causes of such disparities and devising innovative strategies to prevent and eliminate them.

Thursday’s keynote speaker, Fernando Torres-Gil, PhD, from UCLA, presented the group with the issue of changing our health care system to one that doesn’t leave anybody out.  On Friday, Lovell A. Jones PhD, director of the Center for Research on Minority Health at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, challenged the audience to think differently about treating various ethnic populations.

Other topics that included panel discussions targeted heart failure and hypertension rates in African Americans, perceptions in the value of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine based on ethnic differences and the growing prevalence of illicit drugs use by Hispanics.  Each session included a question-and-answer session that probed more deeply into health disparities, public policy and social responsibility for health care.

In addition, the public and attendees had the opportunity to review poster presentations based on research in health disparities.  The following student posters received awards for their efforts:

  •  Zeida Kon (School of Public Health)
  • Kirtigandha Salwe (School of Public Health)
  • Kim Aldy (Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences)
Finally, new STAR (Steps Toward Academic Research) Fellows for 2010 were announced.  STAR Fellows are emerging junior faculty who receive a full year of collaborative training and interaction with faculty from the UNT Health Science Center and other institutions, directed toward fostering health disparities research initiatives, culminating in a competition for two $25,000 grants for health disparities research. The winners for 2009 are Richard Palmer, DrPH, from Florida International University and Grant Wangila, PhD, from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The program is funded by the National Center of Minority Health and Health Disparities through the Texas Center for Health Disparities. UNTHSC logo


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