Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities

Who We Are

CEMHD (Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities), is a collaborative effort focusing on minority health disparities in the smaller cities and towns of New York. We work toward eliminating health disparities by developing capacity in faculty at the University at Albany and partnering with community groups to identify their health concerns and the sources of disparities, and then plan, implement and test strategies to alleviate them. CEMHD is a partnership among community groups, hospitals, state and county health departments, the State of New York and the University at Albany.


Premise

CEMHD's focus on minorities and under-served populations in the smaller cities and towns of Upstate New York is premised upon the notion that health disparities found in these areas differ from those in the larger cities, and that the appropriate solutions will also differ. Since most of the research on minority health disparities, and the programs that have resulted from it, has focused on populations in large cities, relatively little is known about the distinct causes of poorer health among minorities in smaller cities. Therefore, another reason for our geographical emphasis is to fill in a gap in the research and to initiate and test the appropriate solutions.

Center News

Meet the Recipients of UAlbany’s Health Disparities Research Training Fellowships: 2016 & 2017

Katheryn Roberson grew up in Harlem, New York. She currently works as a mental health therapist in an outpatient center in the South Bronx. She completed her Masters of Education and Masters of Arts at Teachers College Columbia University. It was at Teachers College that she realized the role of research in producing knowledge and promoting system-level change. She co-authored an article published by Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, a journal of the American Psychological Association. The research presented in the article focused on how race-based traumatic stress, coupled with racial identity, impacts general mental health outcomes for People of Color. Through her own experiences, as well as those of the clients she works with, it became evident that there are both physical and mental health concerns associated with being a Person of Color. Although these health concerns were often apparent, less apparent was the preventability of these disparities.
Ms. Roberson hopes to address health disparities through her doctoral studies at the University at Albany’s Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program, under the mentorship of Dr. Alex Pieterse. Her research goals are to develop the body of knowledge around racial discrimination and its impact on health, and to identify methods of responding to and reducing health disparities associated with racism. She would also like to address racial disparities through identifying factors that maintain racial prejudice, and how racial discrimination can be interrupted. Ms. Roberson believes that through these two avenues, we can create intervention strategies to promote health and reduce disparity, and prevention strategies can be created that dismantle factors contributing to disparities.

Through the Presidential Doctoral Fellowship for Research Training in Health Disparities, Ms. Roberson hopes to inform her clinical work, become a more proficient researcher, contribute to the growing research aiding in the dissolution of health disparities. She also wishes to engage with the community and ensure that research traverses the walls of academia to make meaningful impacts on the community.
Hnin Wai Lwin Myo was born in Burma (Myanmar). She graduated from Myanmar’s University of Medicine (II) 1999. Ms. Myo has been a medical doctor and public health specialist for over 16 years. Her work has centered on epidemiological research on communicable diseases. Her attention to matters of public health led to her earning her master’s degree in public health and tropical medicine in 2005. Dr. Myo has worked in a variety of capacities within the healthcare system, including Research Officer and District Health Officer of the Yangon Region, and Assistant Director of the Ministry of Health. Additionally, she was a national survey coordinator for the Disease Control Department’s National Tuberculosis Control program, which emphasized the presence of health disparities, particularly in military conflict zones.Her experiences and research interests led her to prioritize public health issues among minority groups as a Deputy Project Manager of the Mobile Medical Services Project.

Dr. Myo proposed a project focused on providing basic healthcare to socially marginalized ethnic minority groups along the underserved Thai-Myanmar border, necessitating considerable funding from the Japanese Nippon Foundation. Her mission was to narrow the wide gap between perceived healthcare coverage and reality- characterized by the absence of resources resulting from long-term mismanagement in the conflict zone and insufficient knowledge of the population. Dr. Myo became so closely watched by junta agents that she and her husband, a physician and military commander, faced being court martialed in the context of the political conflict regarding the Kachin ethnic group. They fled from Myanmar to seek asylum and were resettled here in Albany, NY. Upon resettlement, Dr. Myo immediately began contributing to her new community through volunteering for the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and Trinity Alliance’s Refugee Community Health Partnership Program. As a doctoral student at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health, Dr. Myo wishes to pursue her dream of being an infectious disease epidemiologist; Dr. Phil Nasca will be acting as her academic advisor. Dr. Myo plans to continue her efforts in addressing health disparities, helping disadvantaged populations “no matter wherever or whoever they are.”

CEMHD Health Disparities Research Fellows takes Cuba and China

Summer break has started, but student research has not stopped – at least for Emily Lipton and Wayne Lawrence. Graduate students in UAlbany’s School of Public Health, Emily and Wayne were selected to participate as visiting scholars in Guangdong, China this summer. They are spending ten weeks examining different aspects of human health research. Emily, who is earning her master’s degree in public health (MPH), is at the Guangdong Cardiovascular Institute, identifying environmental risk factors that contribute to the high prevalence of congenital heart defects and other adverse cardiovascular birth outcomes. Wayne, a DrPH in epidemiology candidate, is at Sun Yat-sen University’s School of Public Health, investigating the effects of air pollution on adverse cardiovascular health, mental health, and birth outcomes. “My experience thus far has already been memorable,” Wayne said. “I just had the opportunity to meet and discuss my research with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deputy director. Though I’ve been in Guangdong for only a few weeks, I can already say this has been a rewarding opportunity both academically and culturally.” The opportunity has been just as rewarding for Emily. “I believe it is so important to be submersed in another culture and to witness firsthand how their work is being conducted,” Emily said. “At this point in the summer, I have learned more than I thought was previously possible and have been given valuable opportunities that I will carry with me throughout the course of my career. Emily and Wayne are supported through a partnership between the host institutes and UAlbany’s Center for Global Health, which has placed students in China, Panama, Uganda and Sierra Leon this summer. They’re also part of an environmental health sciences team led by Shao Lin, a School of Public Health professor and the Center for Global Health’s associate director for global health research.

Lin has published multiple papers investigating environmental risk factors in Guangdong, and is leading various research projects with both Guangdong Cardiovascular Institute and Sun Yat-Sen University. She’s trained Emily and Wayne with core research skills for the last two semesters. “Building a bridge between the western and eastern culture, and conducting global health research is my dream,” Lin said. “I have helped build up collaborative agreements between UAlbany’s School of Public Health and six Chinese universities/institutes. I find our students learn more when they explore and live in different cultures. By researching in China, our students can apply what they’ve learned in the classroom and help solve real public health challenges.” UAlbany’s Center for Global Health typically sends between six and 10 graduate students abroad each summer as part of its mission to create opportunities for students to engage in global health research internationally. The center also leads the way for international faculty collaboration and has created a graduate certificate for MPH students who are interested in global health. “Anyone who is going to be an effective public health professional really needs to be trained internationally and have a global perspective,” said John Justino, UAlbany’s Center for Global Health director. “The purpose of our center is to serve as a hub for international education, research collaborations, and programs. We want to ensure our current and future leaders are prepared to handle critical global health challenges.” Emily and Wayne will continue research in Guangdong through August and intend to publish their findings with their Chinese mentors. They are also supported by the Carol A. Whittaker Global Health Travel Award and UAlbany’s Graduate Student Association.

Fellow, Melissa E. Noel travels to Holguin, Cuba

Melissa E. Noel traveled to Holguin, Cuba from June 12 - June 26th on a mission trip. Scarce resources has taken a drastic toll on Cuba's living conditions. Many Cubans lack healthy food provisions and supplies of tissue, soap, and toothpaste. Melissa helped to host outreach programs, distribute personal care items, conduct health presentations, and build a long lasting fellowship with the community.     American Sociological Association - Melissa E. Noel traveled to Montreal, Quebec, Canada for the American Sociological Association 112th Annual Conference from August 12 - August 15th.  The conference's theme, Culture, Inequalities, and Social Inclusion Across the Globe, included a number of sessions that addresses current political, social, and health developments in the United States and abroad.  Here, Melissa is pictured after attending a session entitled, "Social Psychological Approaches to Examining Health Disparities." 

CEMHD Associates Win the President's Award for Exemplary Public Engagement, April 25, 2017

Healthy Historic Walking Path


UAlbany principal: Assistant Professor Maeve Kane, History Department
Partners: Orville Abrahams, Director of Community Development, Capital District YMCA

In 2014, the Capital District YMCA received funding from the Sam’s Club Community Grant program of the Walmart Foundation to enact policy, systems and environmental change intended to support health equity in Albany neighborhoods primarily inhabited by African American and Latino residents.

The Y convened a meeting of diverse community stakeholders to discuss options for implementing the grant. The group recommended developing a walking trail that would encourage residents to become more physically active/, raise awareness about the African American history of the city’s neighborhoods/ and better connect downtown residents to civic institutions, like museums and libraries, located right in their own backyards. Orville Abrahams, Director of Community Development for the Capital District Y, turned to the University at Albany’s Department of History for assistance with research and writing. In spring 2015, UAlbany Assistant Professor Maeve Kane offered two service-learning courses in partnership with the Y’s Healthy Historic Walking Paths project. Dr. Kane’s students developed a series of self-guided walking tours through a number of Albany neighborhoods -- including the South End -- and produced a website and mobile app. In its first year, albanywalksforhealth.com logged over 10,000 visitors.Teachers from several Albany schools and afterschool programs are also using the website and its budget-friendly self-guided tours to integrate more local history into their instruction.

The Healthy Historic Walking Paths project is just the first step. In the coming academic year, the Department of History will be offering two additional service learning courses that further explore Albany’s rich African American history. When colleagues describe Lani Jones they use words like capacity builder, trusted, multifaceted, collaborative, stalwart, deeply committed, and exceptional partner. An associate professor in the School of Social Welfare, Lani is known for her high-impact research, her clinical practice, and her service in support of at-risk members of the community. She has served as principle investigator or co-PI on numerous grants that have explored critical social issues including violence, substance abuse, youth opportunity and minority health disparities.She is a nationally-recognized speaker on mental health interventions in underserved populations, and has served on numerous national, state and local health, human service and social service boards to promote social justice for women and their families.Lani has become a champion for school-age children and young adults and a valued partner to the City School District of Albany, establishing outreach and mentoring services, and developing a student scholar athlete program at Albany High.For several years, she has served as the principal investigator for the Liberty Partnerships Rising Stars program at UAlbany, an initiative designed to improve academic outcomes among low income adolescents who are at risk for dropping out. She has also collaborated with the City of Albany’s Commissioner of Work Force Development on the Liberty-Light summer enrichment project, a program that brought over 1,000 youth employment students to campus for personal, career, and workforce development over a four-week period.Lani’s exemplary public engagement efforts are providing much-needed opportunities for students to receive mentoring, tutoring and college-readiness preparation that will inspire, encourage and guide them as they grow emotionally, socially and intellectually.

President's Award for Exemplary Public Engagement, April 25, 2017

Lani Jones

UAlbany principal: Associate Professor Lani Jones, School of Social Welfare

Partners: School of Social Welfare faculty and staff; University at Albany Office of Diversity and Inclusion; City School District of Albany; City of Albany Youth and Workforce Services, New York State Liberty Partnership Program; the Honorable Dorcey Applyrs; and Nathaalie Carey, Deputy Commissioner for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, New York State Department of Labor

When colleagues describe Lani Jones they use words like capacity builder, trusted, multifaceted, collaborative, stalwart, deeply committed, and exceptional partner. An associate professor in the School of Social Welfare, Lani is known for her high-impact research, her clinical practice, and her service in support of at-risk members of the community. She has served as principle investigator or co-PI on numerous grants that have explored critical social issues including violence, substance abuse, youth opportunity and minority health disparities. She is a nationally-recognized speaker on mental health interventions in underserved populations, and has served on numerous national, state and local health, human service and social service boards to promote social justice for women and their families. Lani has become a champion for school-age children and young adults and a valued partner to the City School District of Albany, establishing outreach and mentoring services, and developing a student scholar athlete program at Albany High. For several years, she has served as the principal investigator for the Liberty Partnerships Rising Stars program at UAlbany, an initiative designed to improve academic outcomes among low income adolescents who are at risk for dropping out. She has also collaborated with the City of Albany’s Commissioner of Work Force Development on the Liberty-Light summer enrichment project, a program that brought over 1,000 youth employment students to campus for personal, career, and workforce development over a four-week period. Lani’s exemplary public engagement efforts are providing much-needed opportunities for students to receive mentoring, tutoring and college-readiness preparation that will inspire, encourage and guide them as they grow emotionally, socially and intellectually.


Amsterdam Minority Health Task Force: Health Promotion Initiative

                      (Dr. Blanca Ramos (School of Social Welfare) leads the task force at the Amsterdam Minority Health Task Force held at St. Mary’s Hospital.)                                                                                                                                     

The Amsterdam Minority Health Task Force is pleased to announce the health promotion initiatives in progress within the Amsterdam community. Through CEMHD, University at Albany faculty, and partnerships within St. Mary’s Hospital, the Task Force is in the process of organizing educational trainings, developing health literacy materials, and designing programs to meet community needs!! For more information please email us at cemhd@albany.edu

Five Presidential Doctoral Fellowships Awarded

Lawrence Schell, director of the Center for the Elimination of Health Disparities, at upper right, poses with the Presidential Doctoral Fellows for Research Training, left to right, Melissa Noel, Yajaira Cabrera-Tineo, Kaydian Reid, Wayne Lawrence and Erica Tyler. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

OCTOBER--The first five doctoral students to receive a Presidential Health Disparities Research Training Fellowship were announced in October. The five students -Yajaira Cabrera-Tineo from Counseling Psychology (Education), Melissa Noel from Criminal Justice, Kaydian Reid from Health Policy, Management & Behavior and Wayne Lawrence from Epidemiology & Biostatistics (both Public Health), and Erica Tyler from Anthropology (Arts and Sciences) — have very different fields of study and career goals. However, their constant is a shared commitment to eliminate disparities among minority populations.
The five UAlbany-supported fellows, who themselves are from minority/underrepresented groups, will be joined by others students through the $10 million National Institutes of Health endowment grant awarded the University and its Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities (CEMHD) in April of this year. Lawrence Schell, the director of the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, said, "They are drawn from among the best students on the campus and are dedicated to applying the specialized skills and knowledge of their doctoral program to the very serious and national problem of health disparities."
The students will receive training for research and scholarship using transdisciplinary approaches, take courses to obtain a Health Disparities Certificate in semester-long experiential learning with different NGOs, departments of health and/or research groups, participate in professional societies related to health disparities, and be part of a local community health task force convened by CEMHD.

UAlbany Leads Landmark Public Engagement Initiative to Address Minority Health Disparities
$10 Million Endowment Grant from NIMHD Positions University as the Leading Northeast Hub for Health Disparities Education and Research

The endeavor is spearheaded by UAlbany’s Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities (CEMHD) with support through NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

The project aims to increase the research capacity of the university in health disparities by increasing the number of graduate students, faculty and researchers in health disparities from minority populations and underrepresented groups.

Key components of the program
The University at Albany will:

  1. Recruit and graduate 10 doctoral students from minority/underrepresented groups who will receive no-cost training for research and scholarship using transdisciplinary approaches, semester-long rotations with different NGOs, departments of health and/or research groups, and participation in professional societies related to health disparities;
  2. Recruit an Endowed Health Disparities Chair with nationally recognized expertise to anchor and lead the University’s research, training and community outreach endeavors in health disparities. The Endowed Chair will serve as a leader-catalyst in building a community of inclusive excellence spanning the health disparities disciplines, while at the same time, play a critical role in UAlbany’s plans to further diversify its campus community;
  3. Provide innovatative transdisciplinary health disparities education and training including the creation of new curricula to strengthen academic programs related to health disparities, a new master’s degree-level program focused on health disparities, and the establishment of an epigenetics lecture and laboratory course at the graduate level;
  4. Strengthen community outreach, engagement and action plans related to the development of health disparities education, research, practice and policy by supporting the CEMHD’s existing minority health task forces in Albany and Amsterdam, N.Y., and will create new health disparities task forces in other regions in the future; Host conferences, symposia and workshops on health disparities that attract national leaders in research health disparities as well as UAlbany students and faculty.

If you are a student interested in applying for the fellowship, more information is available here or in this printable brochure. 
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 Please welcome the newest additions Tyler Garcia and Shanella Palmer and Johanna Hernandez community service and work-study students to the CEMHD team. Each student will be working during the 2016-2017 academic term and will assist the center in educational and clerical tasks, while learning about health disparities with a focus on minorities and under-served populations.

 

   

 

 

 


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Past Events and Community Activities