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The Minority Health Project in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health works to expand awareness and knowledge about health equity concerns, deepen understanding of methodological, theoretical, and practical issues in health disparities research and interventions, and strengthen linkages across diversity activities to increase their effectiveness and success.
The Minority Health Project [MHP] was launched in 1994 with funding from the National Center for Health Statistics [NCHS] (Minority Statistics Grants Program, Audrey Burwell, MS, Director) through the Association of Schools of Public Health [ASPH]-CDC Cooperative Agreement (principal investigator Lloyd Edwards, PhD [o]; co-investigators Trude Bennett, DrPH [o], and Dorothy Browne, MSW, MPH, DrPH [o]). The objectives of the original grant, which received major funding over a six year period, were to develop resources to improve minority health statistical research through searchable catalogs of research and datasets, networking of researchers, and a course on minority health research.
During its first five years, the Project developed a website [www.minority.unc.edu], searchable, web-based catalogs of research literature [archival page] and datasets [archival page], and a one-week Institute first held at UNC-Chapel Hill in June 1995 [o]. The course has evolved into the Annual Summer Public Health Research Videoconference, on Minority Health (see “About the Annual Summer Public Health Research Institute and Videoconference on Minority Health” for a detailed history of the Institute [go there]).
When Dr. Edwards moved to Duke University in 1998, Victor Schoenbach, PhD, [o] assumed the leadership of the Project, jointly with Dr. Browne until she moved to Morgan State University in 2002. Dr. Schoenbach had previously led the UNC Lineberger Minority Cancer Control Research Program. In that role he had worked with the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Minority Student Caucus [MSC] on its Annual Minority Health Conference [o], which the Caucus initiated in 1977. In 1999, the Conference’s Keynote Lecture was named in honor of retiring Associate Dean William T. Small, Jr., [o] a key figure in the life of the Caucus, the Conference’s founding, and its continuing success. The Project began offering a (free) webcast of the Annual William T. Small, Jr. Keynote Lecture (satellite broadcasting began in 2001, with funding from the NC state health department).
After 1999, when the NCHS funding had ended, support from the National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention [NCHSTP] Office of Health Disparities (Bill Jenkins, PhD,MS,MPH, Director) [bio], the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health dean’s office [webpage], and other sources enabled the Project to continue the five-afternoon interactive Videoconference. Participant and site fees were discontinued, and the number of downlink sites jumped several-fold. Since then the Annual Summer Public Health Research Videoconference on Minority Health has been disseminated at no charge to thousands of public health practitioners, researchers, faculty, and students throughout the U.S. and abroad. Major co-sponsors have included UNC Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Morgan State University School of Public Health, North Carolina State A&T University Institute for Public Health, and Norfolk State University. (slide show with history)
Although funding constraints have shortened the Videoconference to a single afternoon in recent years, there have been significant expansions in other dimensions. Major accomplishments during the past eight years include (1) a broadcast with two members of the Congressional Minority Caucus, initiated by an aide to the Hon. Donna Christensen [o], (2) a first broadcast from the newly-dedicated UNC Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History (this broadcast featured the Hon. Melvin Watt and a panel of five other experts) [o], (3) a first broadcast produced at Morgan State University [o], and (4) Videoconferences guided by a planning committee with representatives from several schools and centers, organized and supported by UNC Diversity and Multicultural Affairs DMA] and co-presented with NC A&T State University Institute for Public Health [IPH].
Videotapes and DVDs from Minority Health Project broadcasts are distributed by the Public Health Foundation [PHF], and several of our programs have been disseminated by Kaisernetwork.org [o]. Our programs are used in academic courses and staff trainings, and the archived webcast from the 2007 Videoconference, "Does Racism Make Us Sick?" [o], has had well over a thousand viewers and has been adopted as required viewing by courses in at least two universities. The Videoconference is now widely known as a unique forum on health disparities issues.
The large auditorium, central location, and institutional significance of the Stone Center provided the opportunity to build linkages with several UNC programs designed to attract and advance minorities underrepresented in the health professions, including Emerging Leaders in Public Health [ELPH], the NC Health Careers Access Program [NC-HCAP], and the Summer PreGraduate Research Experience [AGEP/SPGRE]. Participants in these and other programs have comprised the majority of the studio audience, and as a result of their shared involvement, ELPH and NC-HCAP have initiated joint programming of their own.
After three broadcasts from the Stone Center, major construction adjacent to the facility induced the Videoconference to produce its next broadcasts from the Tate-Turner-Kuralt building of the UNC School of Social Work. The 2008 Videoconference, on Men's Health Disparities (visit) was highly successful. The equally successful 2009 broadcast was dedicated to the memory of Dean John B. Turner, 1922-2009, a writer, scholar, teacher, and educational leader who devoted his life to community organization, social activism and social work education. This broadcast was moderated by Sen. Howard N. Lee [bio], a graduate of the School and a leader in North Carolina government for over 40 years. The 2010 Videoconference, also moderated by Sen. Lee, addressed the topic of What Will Health Care Reform Mean for Minority Health Disparities. A commentary on the Videoconference was invited by Public Health Reports. The broadcast was again produced in the Tate-Turner-Kuralt Auditorium and attended by the NC Health Careers Access Program (NC-HCAP) and the new Summer Public Health Fellowship program.
Although the Minority Health Project has succeeded in raising funds for the Annual Videoconference, the Project functions without any permanent staff support, which hampers efficiency and ability to advance our objectives and raises concerns about continuity, institutionalization, and sustainability. Moreover, the economic situation necessarily affects state allocations to the University, which in turn threatens our ability to raise funds for the Videoconference itself. We are applying for government, foundation, and corporate grants, and we welcome personal and organizational donations and gifts. [lend your support!] In 2009 Bill Jenkins, now with the UNC Institute of African American Research [IAAR] following his retirement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the Center for Research on Health Disparities at Morehouse College, joined the Project as Co-Director.
Address questions about the Minority Health Project to Minority_Health@unc.edu or to Victor_Schoenbach@unc.edu. Please support our work with your statement, donation, and/or collaboration.
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Last Updated: 10/15/2009, 11/8,21/2009, 10/7/2010 by Vic Schoenbach