Photo caption: Melissa Howard, assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Stempel College; Jeannette Torres, director of programs at Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade; Adriana Campa, chair of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at Stempel College; Eric Wagner, principal investigator of the RCMI; Manuel Fermin, CEO of the Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade; and M. Claudia Pinzon Iregui, Maternal and Child Health Project Coordinator at Stempel College.

February 19, 2020 – Since its inception in 2017, the Research Center in Minority Institutions (FIU-RCMI) at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work has worked recognize and boost health disparities research in and amongst the South Florida community.

“What we soon found was that many of the organizations that we wanted to partner with didn’t really have the infrastructure or
support to conduct the type of community research that we were looking to do,” said Adriana Campa, core leader of the FIU-RCMI Community Engagement Core and professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition. “We knew that they held a wealth of resources and information but were not necessarily set-up for research.”
For that reason, the FIU-RCMI’s community engagement developed a competitive community research capacity building grant program, linking community organizations directly with FIU faculty researchers. The FIU-RCMI Community Research Enhancement Grants (CREG) just announced it first round of $5,000 awards. The six awardees are:
Care 4 U Community Health Center, partnering with Jessy G. Dévieux, member of the FIU-RCMI Recruitment Core and professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. This project will conduct secondary data analysis to advance the understanding of the indicators associated with patients cycling into and out of PrEP use and the implications for clinical management.
Caridad Center, partnering with Sabrina Sales-Martinez, assistant professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition. This project will conduct a needs assessment at Caridad Center, focused on relationships between psychosocial factors and social determinants of health within the center.
Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade, partnering with Melissa Howard, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. This project will use a mixed-methods approach to inform decisions of whether, and how, to introduce “Count the Kicks” (CTK), an app for track a baby’s prenatal movement pattern.
Miami MacArthur Educational Center, partnering with Matthew Sutherland and Elisa Trucco, co-principal investigators for FIU-RCMI The Antecedents and Consequences of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Project (ACE Project). This project will focus on creating a school culture and climate that fosters a proactive and holistic approach to alternative education.
Miami Music Project, partnering with Michelle Hospital, administrative co-core leader for the FIU-RCMI and research associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics. The project will conduct a thorough review of current evaluation practices and develop a detailed and comprehensive research plan for Miami Music Project, Inc.
UHI Community Care Clinic, partnering with Sahar Ajabshir, assistant professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. The project will assist in improving nutrition services for this non-profit volunteer-based clinic that provides free healthcare services to low-income, uninsured members of the community.
The goal of each project is to enhance the community partner’s capacity to conduct health disparities research in South Florida. Activities across projects include assessing community needs, conducting secondary analysis, service or system improvement, and training of community partners to enhance their research capacity.
“There is so much information that can be gathered from the work being conducted in these organizations, but we understand that they tend to have limited staffing and we wanted our faculty to be able to directly help pull that information and digest it in a way that, we hope, will make it easier to help the community at large and reduce disparities in access to healthcare,” Campa concluded.