(Provided by the Applicant): The goal of the proposed CSUN-San Fernando Valley (SFV) Center to Reduce Health Disparities is to develop a research center to reduce health disparities for vulnerable populations from several disciplinary and methodological perspectives. The Center will serve three areas of emphasis: (a) faculty support - to train CSUN faculty from many disciplines, primarily Psychology, along with community activists, to conduct culturally competent, relevant, and valid research with underserved populations and to disseminate that information to the academe, to the lay public, and to policy-makers, (b) student support - to develop workplace diversity by developing a cadre of undergraduate and graduate students who have been traditionally underrepresented in health disparities research by providing coursework, training, research experiences, and resources to enter and succeed in graduate programs, and (c) ecologically valid health disparities research and dissemination - to develop a center for excellence in ecologically valid research that will explore alliances between university researchers and community organizations, schools, and other institutions to ensure greater ecological validity in health-related research and community research. The CSUN-SFV Center to Reduce Health Disparities will serve as a hub for future collaborative work that supports health disparities researchers by developing EcoLab, a modifiable laboratory that can be made into environments that are representative of a home with kitchen and living room to study family interactions and to conduct interviews, focus groups, and community meetings;a restaurant to study eating behaviors;or a medical examination room to study health care issues such as communication, expectations, and stereotyping. Thus far, we have collaborative agreements with 7 departments spanning three colleges, with 28 RIMI faculty members, an advisory board consisting of Drs. Steven Lopez, Raymond Buriel, Michele Cooley, and Mayra Bamaca and Ms. Stephanie Saliger of the community. We have also enlisted the assistance of 8 trainers and mentors. We intend to support 10 RIMI students by providing them with coursework, travel and GRE support and research experiences in the laboratory and in community agencies.
We designed a program intended to be of greater relevance to health disparities than is typically the case by working with community agencies who deliver health and mental health services and by designing a laboratory environment that may be seen as more authentic to real-world situations. In addition, we include faculty from 7 different disciplines and 9 community agencies with varying missions to attack the problem of health disparities using sophisticated methods and relevant measures.
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