PHSU Specialized Center in Health Disparities
Over the past 33 years, funding through the RCMI Program at PHSU has been instrumental in the establishment and development of advanced infrastructure. The RCMI has been a key part in PHSU’s transformation from an essentially graduate education institution to a vigorous scientific research center. The Program’s contribution has helped PHSU’s faculty to increase the number and quality of publications in high-prestige indexed scientific journals in high-visibility forums both locally, nationally, and internationally. This, in turn, has impacted the positioning of the institution at a level of competitiveness that has allowed it to receive multiple grants for research and training from new biomedical scientists.
“We are extremely honored that our RCMI Program has been renewed. Certainly, in a current landscape of so much competitiveness in receiving federal funds for scientific research, this success is clear evidence of the unconditional commitment of our faculty and the quality of the work they do every day. The renovation will allow us to establish and develop a Specialized Center on Health Disparities in the southern part of Puerto Rico. The main purpose of this Center is to promote transnational research (which brings research results directly to quality medical/patient care) with a particular emphasis on the area of health disparities at the local and international level,” said Dr. Jose A.Torres-Ruiz, PHSU Rector and Principal Investigator of the Program.
The term “health disparities” is used to refer to any preventable differences in health in vulnerable populations in terms of the distribution of certain diseases, causes of death, risk factors, and other health-related aspects. “Because we are a predominantly Hispanic population residing on an island, we have a greater burden of some conditions such as cancer, diabetes, neurological conditions, among others,” said Dr. Torres-Ruíz.
This Center proposes to offer a variety of scientific services and activities including the establishment of modern physical facilities and technologies impacting the evolution of scientific projects, the implementation of innovative strategies aimed at cultivating the young faculty and turning them into highly competent researchers. This Center will also support the implementation and development of three high-caliber scientific projects that have been designed to understand more broadly the problems in health disparities in substance addiction, the effect of stress on cancer proliferation, and on the neurological consequences of pediatric patients who were exposed to ZIKA infection during pregnancy. The results emanating from these studies sponsored by the Specialized Center for Health Disparities will provide key information to understand and respond more forcefully to the factors that contribute to health disparities that predominantly affect the Puerto Rican community.
The major goal of the proposed Center is to elevate the capacity of the institution, through competitive research activities, in contributing to the improvement of minority health and in preventing and eliminating health disparities.
- Enhance the capacity of the Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU) to conduct competitive mainstream basic, biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research.
- Establish and expand sustainable partnerships between PHSU and Community-Based organizations.
- Enhance the capacity of PHSU investigators to become more successful in securing external funding, from federal and non-federal agencies, to pursue productive research on diseases and conditions that disproportionately impact minority and health disparity communities.
- Promote an institutional environment conducive to the development of early stage investigators (post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty).
- Enhance the institutional capability for the conduct and dissemination of research for improving minority health and preventing and eliminating health disparities.