University of Hawaii System newsletter

JABSOM Grant Targets Minority Health Disparities

Posted on | October 15, 2010 | 1 Comment

2 peole and baby

Winston Kong holds young Liʻulani Martin, being examined by Kapua Medeiros, JABSOM class of 2010

The John A. Burns School of Medicine received major new funding for community-based research designed to improve the health of Hawaiʻi’s people who suffer from disproportionately higher rates of serious illnesses and worse health outcomes from conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cancer and dementia.

The $12.6-million grant from the National Institutes of Health establishes Hawaiʻi as one of six regions in the U.S. where health disparities among minorities will take center stage. Innovative discoveries will be coordinated to target specific health problems. Discoveries will be rapidly transferred into real-life treatment settings where people receive care.

Lead investigator for the grant is Jerris Hedges, dean of JABSOM. “The grant builds upon years of successful research at the medical school by scientists in its Department of Native Hawaiian Health and numerous other departments and centers,” notes Hedges. “These scientists have identified the challenges of addressing the health disparities of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders in our multi-cultural and multi-ethnic setting.”

Co-directors are JABSOM pediatrician Bruce Shiramizu and cardiologist Todd Seto. “Understanding and addressing these health outcome disparities in our multicultural setting will help our nation as a whole answer why some diseases are more prevalent in minority populations, and what can be done to reduce the burden of these diseases,” says Shiramizu. “Involving the communities into these research efforts will be vital to the grant’s success,” adds Seto, who has himself successfully introduced programs into high-risk communities.

The new program will bring together experts and leaders from multiple disciplines—medicine, nursing, engineering, social sciences, public health, law, natural sciences, information technology, pharmacy, and cancer research—throughout the Mānoa and Hilo campuses. It will also integrate successful programs existing within the medical school’s partner teaching hospitals and collaborate with neighborhood health clinics, community groups, health plans and health policy leaders.

The focus is on six health disparities impacting Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Asians, and other populations in Hawaiʻi—cardiovascular health, respiratory health, nutritional and metabolic health, cancer health, perinatal growth and developmental health and aging and neurocognitive health.

Read the news release.