Whole Health Focus: Dr. Harlan Jones to speak on social determinants of health

HarlanjonesDr. Harlan Jones is no stranger to traveling to promote educational initiatives geared toward eliminating health disparities. As director of the Institute for Health Disparities at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, it’s part of his vocation. In fact, Jones has been an integral part of IHD (formerly the Center for Diversity and International Programs) since 2006, and a member of the HSC community since 2004, when he earned his Ph.D. from the School of Biomedical Sciences.

On Thursday, May 18, Jones will speak at the 3rd annual Texas Biomedical Research Institute’s Global Health Symposium at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. He will present on a panel at the opening plenary on Zip Code vs. Genetic Code: Unraveling the Importance of Social Determinants of Health.

“A wide range of factors affect a person’s whole health, including the genetic code they were given by their parents and, unfortunately, the zip code where they were born or live,” Jones said. “It’s important for us to talk about those social determinants of health so we can combat any barriers and provide people with the quality health care they need, unencumbered by environmental factors that would otherwise hinder them.”

The theme of this year’s TBRI Global Health Symposium, Building Health Equity: Community, Trust and Science, “will feature sessions focused on bringing together world thought leaders in government, philanthropy, public health, science and business to foster and champion a collaborative approach to new and emerging public health threats.”

Jones, a HEARD Scholar, has written or contributed to close to 60 publications, and his associate professorship in microbiology, immunology and genetics at SBS means he’s influencing the future generation of physicians and medical professionals. One of Jones’s focuses in his lab is research on how issues that arise in the early years of a person’s life can affect their long-term health — and potentially create disparities.

As a multiple principal investigator of the National Institute of Health’s Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) program, Jones will also share with conference attendees the value and use of AI and machine learning technologies in reducing health disparities and inequities.

“When we talk about whole health, that includes a whole host of factors that wouldn’t necessarily show up on a medical chart,” Jones added. “It’s through research, education and awareness that we begin to identify those factors and address the issue of health disparity using a whole health approach.”

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