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North Carolina Nursing Departments Launch Health Disparities Center

North Carolina Nursing Departments Launch Health Disparities Center


The Departments of Nursing at North Carolina Central University and Winston-Salem State University and the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently launched the Center for Innovation in Health Disparities Research (CIHDR).

The new center is one of eight university-partnered national centers recently funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) and the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) to address disparities in health-care practice and research. The NINR and the NCMHD are both branches of the National Institutes of Health. More than $1.5 million was awarded to fund the program over a five-year period.

“The intent is to increase the number of minority researchers in health,” says Dr. Betty Dennis, NCCU biology chair and administrative core director. “We will match graduate and undergraduate students with skilled researchers. The proposed outcome will be an increase in the number of students in graduate programs and engaged in research.”

One central component of the new center is the Research Enrichment and Apprenticeship Program (REAP). REAP will fund pilot studies and develop and implement educational programs designed to promote innovative methodologies in health disparities research. The program will assist approximately 10 students annually.

Another program goal is to build community capacity.

“We will be asking community members to identify their needs,” says Dr. Chris McQuiston, UNC center director and associate nursing professor. “Based upon their responses, we will match researchers and students with expertise to identified areas of need. We believe this philosophy is critical to developing the innovative methodologies that will be necessary to further the agenda of health disparity research.”

Additionally, the program will support faculty research endeavors through seed-grants. This will allow 5-7 faculty members per year to prepare their projects for submission for larger federally funded grants. The program also will disseminate research information to the community, providing helpful information on health issues.

“The grant will allow the universities to collectively research and collaborate on strategies for advancing the quality of health care, while reducing health disparities among patients from diverse cultures,” says Dr. Sylvia Flack, dean of the School of Health Sciences at WSSU.

“This is a critical need and a wonderful opportunity.”

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