UB Partners With Caribbean and U.S. Experts on Health Studies

UB Partners With Caribbean and U.S. Experts on Health Studies

26th April, 2018

Hampton University (HU) and University of The Bahamas (UB) are collaborating with experts in the fields of public health, population health, clinical health and research to address health disparities in the Caribbean and the United States through the new Hampton University Center for Caribbean Health Research (HU-CCHR).   

The HU-CCHR will conduct research and programmatic activities to tackle the health challenges that plague populations of African descent. The center will serve as a convening and coordinating body. St. George’s University in Grenada, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency are also partners in this initiative.

“University of The Bahamas is delighted to partner with Hampton University in the launch of what will no doubt become a highly significant source of new information regarding health issues associated with Caribbean related heritage.  With the University’s new initiatives coming out of the G. T. R. Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Complex, it is our hope that we will be in position to make research contributions and advance new knowledge over the next several years,” said UB President Dr. Rodney D. Smith.

HU President Dr. William R. Harvey called it a significant step towards meaningful research that will lead to viable health outcomes.

“This new Center ushers in an innovative era of utilizing the tremendous capacities of Hampton University-based researchers to partner with their colleagues from across the Caribbean in forging meaningful and sustainable solutions to conditions that give rise to health disparities” said Dr. Harvey.  “We at Hampton measure our successes by the contributions and services that we provide to our community, our nation, and the world.”  

In 2007, CARICOM Heads of State met and predicted a 300% increase in deaths from non-communicable diseases over the ensuing 20 years. Diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke and cancers are among the leading causes of mortality in The Bahamas, according to the Pan-American Health Organization.

Data suggests that health disparities in the U.S. and in the Caribbean share similarities in terms of underlying causes.  However, there are unique cultural, political, social, and environmental factors in both regions that influence health status and outcomes that are not well understood.  In the U.S., African Americans experience a disproportion in incidence, prevalence, and pre-mature mortality for many preventable diseases and conditions. According to HU, interventions to reduce health disparities among African Americans have not been as effective as needed, and generally do not consider the heterogeneity of the African American population.

The HU-CCHR will study the etiology of health challenges among U.S.-born African Americans and Caribbean immigrants, and propose effective interventions and activities to improve health, and advance health equity in both regions.  A key goal is to leverage research to answer complex questions and to engage communities in addressing those issues identified in a culturally respectful and sensitive manner.

The HU-CCHR will be led by HU’s Chief Health Officer Warren A. Jones, MD., a residency trained family physician and fellowship trained adolescent medicine specialist with a rich background in research, population health, and education.  He founded the Health Disparities Institute at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he remains Professor Emeritus. His career in the U.S. Navy and his service as the senior medical director to the worldwide TRICARE program gives him a unique perspective on addressing global health issues.  He also possesses a strong research base after serving as chair of the National Advisory Council to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

In addition, Dr. Michelle Penn-Marshall, Vice President for Research, Dr. Simone Heyliger, Associate Professor of Immunology/Microbiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology and Dr. Luisel Ricks-Santi, Director of the Cancer Research Center at Hampton University were instrumental in the core development of the HU-CCHR research initiatives as conceptualized by President Harvey.

The resources of the Hampton University Proton Institute, the largest free-standing proton therapy facility in the world, will serve as a focal point for discovering new approaches for managing cancers in regions that are identified with resource deficiencies.  The Schools of Pharmacy and Nursing will assist in developing team-oriented approaches to managing complex diseases and conditions.