Florida International University is building the state's first Health Disparities Research Center at a Minority Institution with a $13.1 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
The grant will lead to the creation of FIU-RCMI at Stempel College, which will focus on reducing substance use problems and HIV, and will work in partnership with South Florida communities. It's the largest National Institutes of Health award in university history.
Eric Wagner, director of FIU-BRIDGE and professor in the School of Social Work, will helm the FIU-RCMI at Stempel College. Since arriving at FIU in 1998, Wagner has led an interdisciplinary group of researchers whose work focuses on reducing substance use problems and HIV/sexually transmitted infections among teenagers and young adults through community research partnerships in South Florida and across the country.
The FIU-RCMI at Stempel College involves 34 faculty members in addition to Wagner, who come from various disciplines across the college and university. While Stempel College faculty comprise the majority, faculty from FIU's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine's NeighborhoodHELP Program and the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education are included.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has disproportionately affected minority populations, especially people living in low-income neighborhoods. Moreover, while substance use problems affect all racial, ethnic and income groups, minorities and those living in poverty experience more substance-related adverse consequences and more barriers to accessing effective prevention and intervention services.