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SFSU begins research on health disparities

August 16, 2004

Despite the proportion of gross national product spent on health care, good health continues to elude a high proportion of the U.S. population. How is it that some ethnic groups have a higher incidence of a certain disease while other groups are rarely affected? Why do some populations receive lesser care than others for the same impairment? What causes these disparities?

The NIH-funded Research Training in Health Disparities (RTHD) project aims to discover the answers to these questions and SFSU is one of a group of universities selected and funded to carry out this national quest.

Among the priorities of the project is the participation of more minority researchers. SFSU will use a portion of its $5 million grant to provide fellowships aimed to boost the number of minority faculty researchers on campus. Those selected will receive reimbursed release from teaching responsibilities while they are researching and preparing their grant proposals. The program will offer mentoring and instruction on various aspects of grant research such as learning to narrow down a research area and methods to establish relationships with mentors at other major research institutions. Participants will have full access to facilities and support throughout their submission process including the refinement of rejected submissions and resubmission.

President Robert Corrigan championed the funding for the project, which was awarded earlier this year. "San Francisco State University has a proud history of addressing inequities in education," says Corrigan. "We pursued this funding specifically to encourage more minority faculty researchers on our campus and to provide the necessary resources for them to flourish."

Another portion of the grant will support the newly formed SFSU Grant Development Resource Facility where prospective researchers can develop their grants. Located a few minutes away from campus in the Pacific Plaza building near the Daly City BART station, facilities include a funding resource library and networked workspaces with library resources and special software that supports grant research and writing. Research advisors and Information Technology professionals will staff the facility.

Use of the facility's library, multi-functional conference room and other spaces as well as attendance at lectures and workshops is open to all tenured or tenure track SFSU faculty who wish to conduct research on health disparities.

Photo of James A. Wiley, director of the Public Research InstituteA third portion of the funding supports two SFSU faculty research projects already in progress. Grace Yoo, assistant professor of Asian American studies, is investigating the impact of social support, spirituality and depression on the quality of life among Asian American, African American and Latino breast cancer survivors. Wilfred Denetclaw Jr., assistant professor of biology, will receive assistance for his studies in embryology.

James A. Wiley, professor of sociology and director of the Public Research Institute which is administering the grant, believes that the RTHD program addresses the pressing question of what the role of a university in community health is. "I'm hoping that our facilities and programs attract and involve every SFSU department and college that has an interest in investigating health disparities," says Wiley. "I'm personally counting on our programs to nurture new researchers and foster many more research projects at SFSU."

For more information, see the Research Training in Health Disparities Web site.

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified August 16, 2004 by University Communications