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.
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.
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