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Texas Prevention Institute Awarded $6 Million Grant from National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)

The Texas Prevention Institute (TPI) was recently awarded approximately $6 million over the next five years to establish a NIMHD Exploratory Center of Excellence (P20MD006882) for the project “Texas Center for Minority Health, Education, Research and Outreach.”*

Created in 2005 with partial funding as an EXPORT Center, the Texas Center for Health Disparities (TCHD), a division of PTI, has been a leader in health disparities research, education, and outreach in its local community in Fort Worth/Dallas, throughout the State of Texas, and in many parts of the nation.  The NIMHD award will build on the significant experience and relationships developed through the TCHD, led by Director Jamboor Vishwanatha, PhD, Dean of UNTHSC Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, to develop the new Center of Excellence (COE) with focus on women’s health disparities.  The COE expands the previous EXPORT Center by employing translation and community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches for identifying novel biomarkers for HIV-1 progression, developing detection and therapeutic strategies for triple negative breast cancer, and addressing weight loss and obesity.  The COE will also expand and develop new education and community outreach activities in underserved communities and with underrepresented minority (URM) institutions.  The TPI-affiliated faculty serving on the leadership team and their roles are:  Dr. Jamboor Vishwanatha (PI and Director, Administrative Core), Dr. Kathryn Cardarelli (Director, Outreach Core), Dr. Harlan Jones (Director, Training Core), Dr. Mark DeHaven (Director, Research Core), and Anuja Ghorpade (PI of HIV study).

The OCE’s weight loss and obesity study, titled “Reducing Obesity in African-American Women through Lifestyle Enhancement,” is also led by the TPI Executive Director, Dr. Mark DeHaven, with TPI-affiliated collaborators Dr. Jenny J. Lee and Dr. Heather Kitzman-Ulrich, from the Department of Behavioral and Community Health.  The team will address the urgent need for research on weight loss approaches for reducing the risk and associated complications of obesity among African-American women during the next five years.  According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007-2008), women have a higher obesity prevalence (35.5%) than men (32.2%) and non-Hispanic blacks have a higher prevalence (44.1%) than non-Hispanic whites (32.8%), with non-Hispanic black women having the highest prevalence reported (49.6%).  Obesity is associated with increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome; and increased risk of death from diabetes, kidney disease, some cancers, and primarily cardiovascular diseases.  Although lifestyle factors account for 50% of premature mortality, the lack of evidence-based clinical trials has discounted the value of lifestyle interventions as a dependable strategy for reducing obesity prevalence in high-risk populations.

The obesity project team will conduct a randomized clinical trial for reducing obesity among African-American women, through a community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnership with African-American congregations in high-minority, low-income, under served areas.  The study will test the effects of a novel faith-based lifestyle enhancement weight loss program for obese African-American women in their churches, by incorporation the direct participation of Senior Pastors into the program intervention.  “Although the church is a frequent site for lifestyle program interventions, a shortcoming of many programs is that they have been placed into the church setting from outside and not fully integrated into the churches’ culture,” says Dr. DeHaven.  “Community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches allow researchers to investigate relevant health problems in a way that is sensitive to the needs and perspective of the target population.”  The study’s primary aim is to test the effectiveness of a church pastor affiliated weight loss program on decreasing participants’ body weight, and secondary aims are to test the effects of weight loss on reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

*Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institutes on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20MD06882.  The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


This page was last modified on January 21, 2015