The goal of Virginia Common Wealth University's (VCU) National Institute for Minority Health Disparities (NIMHD) Comprehensive Center of Excellence (CoEHDR) for Health Disparities Research application is to bring together the academic and target community in a collaborative research partnership to address Preterm Birth. This renewal application prioritizes fundamental research in race-specific genetic and infectious causes of preterm birth, and environment-epigenetic associations that influence prematurity. It also emphasizes capacity building to promote community participation in the research endeavor by training investigators in epidemiology, clinical outcomes research, and social and behavioral science methods and analyses;conceptualizing and implementing strategies that are developmentally, culturally and environmentally appropriate in engaging community participation.
Specific aims of the NIMHD CoEHDR in Health Disparities Research at VCU are:
Aim 1 : Expand and strengthen the existing community partnership to include participation in preterm birth related research. The community outreach core will coordinate institutional community outreach activities with the research and research training cores.
Aim 2 : Conduct inter-disciplinary, fundamental and epidemiological research that will advance our understanding of the incidence of preterm birth that is a significant racial/ethnic health disparit.
Aim 3 : Provide research training for medical and graduate students, residents, postdoctoral fellows and faculty to enhance their knowledge and skills for conducting community based participatory research. Health services research related to health disparities training will be integrated into the curriculum of students, residents, and faculty including topics on health services research methods and analyses, community participation, and cultural competency. The center will continue to bring together an interdisciplinary team of social and behavioral scientists, epidemiologists, clinical investigators, basic scientists and educators, and community representatives to work together to consider and apply novel and emerging scientific information, methods, and technologies to research into human health and diseases across specialties, disciplines, and communities.

Public Health Relevance

The high rate of premature births in the United States remains a public health concern. Preterm or premature birth is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity in African Americans. The contributory causes and mechanisms explaining preterm birth and especially the disparity in African Americans are poorly understood and this Center proposes specific aims to address this lack of knowledge.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
Comprehensive Center (P60)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZMD1)
Program Officer
Sayre, Michael
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Virginia Commonwealth University
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Lind, Mackenzie J; Hawn, Sage E; Sheerin, Christina M et al. (2017) An examination of the etiologic overlap between the genetic and environmental influences on insomnia and common psychopathology. Depress Anxiety 34:453-462
Modi, Bhavi P; Teves, Maria E; Pearson, Laurel N et al. (2017) Rare mutations and potentially damaging missense variants in genes encoding fibrillar collagens and proteins involved in their production are candidates for risk for preterm premature rupture of membranes. PLoS One 12:e0174356
Modi, Bhavi P; Teves, Maria E; Pearson, Laurel N et al. (2017) Mutations in fetal genes involved in innate immunity and host defense against microbes increase risk of preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM). Mol Genet Genomic Med 5:720-729
Sheerin, Christina M; Lind, Mackenzie J; Bountress, Kaitlin et al. (2017) The Genetics and Epigenetics of PTSD: Overview, Recent Advances, and Future Directions. Curr Opin Psychol 14:5-11
Brooks, J Paul; Edwards, David J; Blithe, Diana L et al. (2017) Effects of combined oral contraceptives, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate and the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system on the vaginal microbiome. Contraception 95:405-413
Walsh, Scott W; Chumble, Anuja A; Washington, Sonya L et al. (2017) Increased expression of toll-like receptors 2 and 9 is associated with reduced DNA methylation in spontaneous preterm labor. J Reprod Immunol 121:35-41
Modi, Bhavi P; Washington, Sonya; Walsh, Scott W et al. (2017) Expression patterns of the chromosome 21 MicroRNA cluster (miR-99a, miR-125b and let-7c) in chorioamniotic membranes. Placenta 49:1-9
Seinfeld, Syndi A; Pellock, John M; Kjeldsen, Marianne J et al. (2016) Epilepsy After Febrile Seizures: Twins Suggest Genetic Influence. Pediatr Neurol 55:14-6
Abdelmaksoud, Abdallah A; Koparde, Vishal N; Sheth, Nihar U et al. (2016) Comparison of Lactobacillus crispatus isolates from Lactobacillus-dominated vaginal microbiomes with isolates from microbiomes containing bacterial vaginosis-associated bacteria. Microbiology 162:466-75
Kinser, Patricia A; Robins, Jo Lynne W; Masho, Saba W (2016) Self-Administered Mind-Body Practices for Reducing Health Disparities: An Interprofessional Opinion and Call to Action. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2016:2156969

Showing the most recent 10 out of 79 publications