NIMHD P60 Center

Designated by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research

Jerome Strauss, M.D., Ph.D.  

Principal Investigator and Director, VCU CoEHDR
Professor, School of Medicine   

The National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities’ (NIMHD) VCU Center of Excellence was established in 2007 with a P60 Award. The mission of the Center is to promote minority health and to lead, coordinate, support, reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. The Center’s primary focus is on the examination of adverse pregnancy outcomes, with a focus in African-American women, and the development of interventions to prevent such outcomes. In the first cycle of funding, the Center had a number of key research and scholarly accomplishments: 

  • 34 publications on Genetics of Preterm Birth in African-Americans, Periodontal Infection, Antiphospholids and Prematurity, Safer Sex Skill Building in Pregnant, Drug Abusing Women to reduce HIV infection, Enhancing Fetal Exposure to Antiretroviral Medications, Racial Differences in Genetic and Environmental Factors of Preterm Birth, the Association Between Stress and Birth Outcomes, and Community Engagement/Outreach. 
  • Supported over 50 undergraduate and graduate students from health disparity populations in completing a program of study or training in biomedical research. 

The Center is well established as an institution-wide resource for expanding the capacity and competence of the institution to conduct minority health and health disparities research particularly in maternal and fetal health. The Center begins its second cycle of funding and will continue to bring together an interdisciplinary team of social and behavioral scientists, epidemiologists, clinical investigators, basic scientists and educators, and community representatives to work together to consider and apply novel and emerging scientific information, methods, and technologies to research into human health and diseases across specialties, disciplines, and communities. More immediately, health disparities associated with preterm birth and related morbidity and mortality among African Americans is our focus. Specifically, the objectives of the Center are to: 

  • Expand and strengthen the existing community work by expanding partnerships in the community to include participation in preterm birth-related research.  The community outreach core coordinates institutional community outreach activities with the research and research training cores. 
  • Provide research training for medical and graduate students, residents, postdoctoral fellows and faculty to enhance their knowledge and skills for conducting community based participatory research. 
  • Integrate Health services research related to health disparities training into the curriculum of students, residents, and faculty including topics on health services research methods and analyses, community participation, and cultural competency. 
  • Conduct inter-disciplinary, fundamental and epidemiological research that will advance our understanding of the contributing factors to preterm birth, a significant racial/ethnic health disparity.

With the solid footing in preterm birth research, history of community outreach, growing inter-disciplinary team of investigators with an interest in preterm birth and associated conditions, the Center is uniquely qualified to contribute to the research on health disparities research associated with preterm birth and infant mortality in African Americans and to the training of scientists from health disparity populations.