Project Director: Sean R. Abram, Ph.D

The Health Disparities Research Core is currently led by Dr. Sean Abram. The Research Core’s goals are to develop and foster health disparity research projects on prevention and clinical interventions that improve the delivery of health care services. Major activities include a Competitive Research Grant Program and the Visiting Scholars Program.

Ongoing research activities occur through our partners via sub award(s) and within the Health Disparities Research Core:

  • Health Care Disparities in Chronic Kidney Disease 
  • The University of Mississippi Medical Center – PI:  Karen Winters, PhD, RN
  • Health Disparities-Focused Unit on Training United Research Educators  (HD FUTURE)
  • The Institute for Improvement of Minority Health
  • Health Disparities/MIGMH - PI:  Sean R. Abram, PhD

Health Care Disparities in Chronic Kidney Disease:

The Health Care Disparities in Chronic Kidney Disease study seeks to test the ability of a peer-led educational program in renal patients to improve their quality of life, knowledge of disease, and disease outcomes.   A total of 300 patients will be recruited from the Medical Mall Dialysis Unit or the Nephrology Clinic at the UMMC.  The Standard Survey SF-36 will be used to determine quality of life before and after the educational effort, while a specially designed test will measure understanding of disease.  Measureable outcomes will include: 1) control of blood pressure, 2) adherence to therapy, 3) number of hospitalizations, and 4) death rate.  

A second goal of this study is to improve the communication of nurses and physicians in their care of patients with kidney disease.  Medical practitioners often require the patient to conform to their world without attempting to address the patient’s needs in the context of their culture and beliefs.  There are a majority of patients in the cohort who, despite the best efforts of well-intentioned practitioners, continue to have: out of control blood pressure, poor diets, noncompliance with medications and medical follow up.  The project coordinator and peer educators will carry out a survey to evaluate providers and to determine which providers are effective in teaching patients about CKD or ESRD and what techniques work best with patients.

Health Disparities-Focused Unit on Training United Research Educators:

Bridging the gap between comprehension on the part of minority students, especially males, as to what is actually possible and achieving the goal of creating the next generation of minority scientists is often hampered by two significant barriers:  1) a lack of general knowledge concerning science and its impact on humanity and 2) inadequate resourcing which dictates an overall apathy on behalf of the student in understanding his/her environment.  HD FUTURE is designed to engage students/professionals at various levels along their educational journey (i.e. high school students and teachers, junior college, undergraduate and graduate students as well as community laymen) and work toward creating a more diverse workforce which accurately reflects the nation’s population.

Competitive Grant Research Program
The Mississippi Institute for the Improvement of Geographic Minority Health established the Competitive Grant Research Program (CRGP) to encourage and support new research on minority and rural health, aimed at addressing and eliminating health disparities. The Institute has awarded 12 small grants via its CRGP since 2007.  A list of awardees and topics are found below:

Competitive Grant Program Awardees 2006-2007:

Dr. Karen Grothe
Sedentary Behavior in Overweight Women

Ms. Kedra Wallace
Elucidating the Role of Nitric Oxide and Endothelin-2 Activation in Endothelia Cells Co-Cultured with Placental Explants from African-American and Caucasian High Risk Pregnancies

Dr. Audwin Fletcher
Kids for Healthy Eating and Exercising (KHEE) Club

Dr. Gailen Marshall
Impact of Psychological Stress on HPV Vaccine Responses to Gardasil in Underserved Minority Women

Competitive Grant Program Awardees 2007-2008:

Dr. Jeralynn Cossman
Rural and Minority MDs in Mississippi:  Their Importance to Access in a Diverse State

Dr. T. David Elkin
Increasing the treatment of enuresis in children with sickle cell anemia.

Dr. Marinelle Payton
Addressing Diabesity in Rural Mississippi

Dr. Oluwatosin Smith
Genetic Risk Factors for Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

Competitive Grant Program Awardees 2008-2009:

Dr. John C. Meade
Trichomoniasis: Genotype and Phenotype Correlations in African American Women

Dr. Hui Li
Geographical and racial/ethnic disparities of adverse birth outcomes and their determinants in rural disadvantages and minority populations in Mississippi

 Dr. Trini Mathew
Factors associated with positive Interferon Gamma Release Assays in HIV clinic Patients in University of Mississippi Medical Center

 Dr. Matthew Graves
Health Disparities and Trauma Outcomes: Stratifying the Roles of Race, Obesity and Systemic Infection

Click here to access Competitive Research Grant Program Application (Application cycle currently closed until further notice)