The establishment of an NIMHD Exploratory Center of Excellence (CoE) at Georgia Southern University has the potential to greatly reduce health disparities among rural residents (comprising 20% of the nation's population). The proposed CoE has many unique features that would facilitate its success, including 1) building upon a heavily supported existing Rural Health Research Institute that is located within a medically underserved rural community;and 2) focusing on the use of emerging technologies in administrative, research, training, and outreach activities. The CoE's highly interdisciplinary focus is reflective of emerging evidence of the importance of trans-discipline research in disparities-elimination efforts. The Administrative Core's innovative technology-facilitated collaboration approach has the potential to become a new model for research capacity building. The Research Core focuses on three leading disparities in rural communities (Diabetes, hypertension, and prostate cancer). Both Research Subprojects heavily involve the local community and attempt to directly address specific barriers to healthy living (transportation access to services, etc.) in diverse rural populations. The Research Training/Education Core combines traditional training models with innovative cyber-mentoring experiences designed to increase minority and underserved student and faculty Involvement in rural health disparities elimination research. The Core's activities include conducing a Disparities-Elimination Summer Research Experience (DESRE) program for undergraduate and graduate students, providing postdoctoral research experiences for emerging rural health researchers, and establishing a cyber-mentoring network to increase the access of junior faculty in rural areas to senior research mentors. The Community Engagement/Outreach Core focuses on building community capacity to address health disparities, designed to increase health literacy and build community-based participatory research infrastructure to help maintain research activities even after the funding period. The proposed activities of the Center of Excellence will collaboratively work to eliminate disparities among one of the largest health disparity populations in the United States.
The proposed project would establish a Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Rural Health Disparities wihin a rural community in Southeast Georgia. This would afford rural health researchers a unique opportunity to advance health disparities elimination research within their own communities, greatly advancing a field that focuses on improving the health of 20% of all US residents.
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