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National Institutes of Health Grant to Help University of Texas at El Paso Battle Hispanic Health Disparities

Contact: Kimberly Miller, 915-747-5747; Cindy Ramirez, 915-747-7526; both with the UTEP Office of University Communications


EL PASO, Texas, Oct. 22 /Standard Newswire/ -- The Hispanic Health Disparities Research Center at the University of Texas at El Paso has received a $6.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health that will significantly advance the center's research in helping eliminate racial and ethnic health inequalities across the nation.


"The center is well positioned to scale up both the scope and the depth of our research on border health and to serve in a leadership role in the development of research on border health in the southwestern area of the United States," said Robert L. Anders, Ph.D., UTEP School of Nursing dean and principal investigator.


The five-year grant comes from the NIH's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, established by the passage of the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000.


The HHDRC at UTEP aims to research and find solutions for health disparities - differences or discrepancies between population groups in prevalence of disease, injury, premature death or disability.


The largest growing minority group in the United States, Hispanics are also among those most at risk when it comes to ethnic disparities in health care. The persistence of these ethnic disparities are increasingly being recognized and addressed by national health organizations.


UTEP's location at the heart of the U.S.-Mexico border, coupled with the unique bicultural expertise of its faculty and student researchers, position the university in a national leadership role in the area of minority health care and Hispanic health disparities.


The HHDRC at UTEP opened in October 2003 with the support of a $4.1 million grant from the NIH and is a collaborative effort between UTEP and the University of Texas at Houston School of Public Health - El Paso Regional Campus.


With the new $6.8 million grant, the center will continue to work toward understanding and reducing health disparities by supporting two-year research projects with funds ranging from $20,000 to $80,000.


"Given that over 80 percent of our community is comprised of minorities, this work, particularly in our southwestern border region, is of critical importance. UTEP and the School of Public Health are committed to making a difference in the lives our citizens," Anders said.


The center will also expand the efforts to train and educate faculty and student researchers and share the results of the research with the community.


"It is a win-win for the El Paso community," said Hector Balcazar, Ph.D., University of Texas at Houston School of Public Health - El Paso Regional Campus regional dean and co-director of Hispanic Health Disparities Research Center. "We are proud to be part of this ongoing HHDRC initiative."


Some of the research funded by the center includes:


  • Researching the adherence to HIV/AIDS medication among Hispanics along the U.S.-Mexico border


  • Researching the use of support groups to maintain a healthy lifestyle among elderly Mexican-Americans with Type 2 Diabetes (similar to AA, but for diabetics)


  • Researching the barriers that can influence annual re-screening mammography among low-income Mexican-American women


  • Reducing the free-roaming dog population in the Sparks colonia in order to remove a barrier that prevents people from exercising outdoors


  • Evaluating the effects of mindful meditation, meditation that focuses on the thoughts that enter the mind, to tackle depression among Mexican American women


  • Studying the nutritional patterns, health beliefs and behaviors of recently immigrated Mexican women.


For more information about the Hispanic Health Disparities Center at UTEP, visit


The University of Texas at El Paso is a major research university at the heart of the U.S.-Mexico border committed to the ideals of access and excellence. A leader among Hispanic-serving institutions, UTEP enrolls more than 20,000 students and is the only doctoral research university in the nation with a student body that is a majority Mexican American. UTEP's growing research portfolio boasts nearly $46 million in research spending in a variety of areas, including border security, emerging technologies, Hispanic health, environmental and Earth science, borderland arts and humanities, and the education of U.S. Hispanics.