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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, February 5, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesUVI to Get $6M to Study Health Disparities

UVI to Get $6M to Study Health Disparities

The Caribbean Exploratory Research Center for Excellence, based in the University of the Virgin Islands School of Nursing, will receive an additional $6 million in federal funding to study health outcomes in the territory, the school announced Friday.

The five-year grant is from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, an arm of the National institutes of Health, CERC Director and Principal Gloria Callwood, Ph.D., said.

Callwood said the grant gives the center an opportunity to make a difference in health outcomes.

“I am very appreciative that the federal government saw fit to refund," she said. “I have a wonderful team. The success of the center can be attributed to their hard and dedicated work.”

CERC has received $7 million in funding from the NIMHD over the last five years. In its 13 years of existence the center has brought $16 million into the territory, money used to research the minority health and health disparity issues that affect all Virgin Islanders.

At the CERC’s fifth annual Health Disparities Institute, held in October on St. Thomas, UVI Interim Provost Camille McKayle described the center’s work as an attempt to come to grips with a changing climate and a health environment in the Caribbean and beyond.

“What’s happening in CERC is critical to the Virgin Islands and to UVI,” McKayle said.

She called the center’s work compelling and worthwhile.

“Getting the grant renewed is not an accident,” McKayle said. “It shows that the efforts of CERC are recognized nationally as important work.”

V.I. Congressional Delegate Donna Christensen, also speaking at the annual institute, said the center’s work calls attention to the direct relationship between Virgin Islanders’ health and the environment.

“These experts will show that eliminating health disparities and achieving parity is a key environmental justice issue as well as a major public health priority,” Christensen said.

Over the last five years, CERC has sponsored research projects including one compiling data for an intimate partner abuse study, and ongoing pilot studies in local populations on childhood obesity, diabetes and mental health. Two community research scholars are being mentored as they complete projects on violence in the Virgin Islands, and the experiences of persons diagnosed with multiple myeloma. It has also developed an extensive, Virgin Islands-specific Health Education Toolkit which can be used by a wide range of lay persons and health educators in the territory.

CERC is also beginning work on moving a data warehouse to the UVI in order the store new data as it is developed to make it more readily available to other researchers as well as the public.

Callwood said the continuing funding will also allow the center to fill a new position of a research director, who will be charged with overseeing the center’s research and identifying additional funding opportunities. She also wants to increase community involvement in the future, using tools such as town hall meetings to help better understand the health disparities issues of the Virgin Islands and where to focus CERC’s effort.

Further information on its goals can be found at the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center website.

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