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Vol. LVII, No. 22
November 4, 2005

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Researchers, Public Health Educators Give Back

NCMHD grantee Dr. Lovell Jones discusses limited access to health care in minority communities.  

Candid presentations by a host of researchers, physicians and public health experts of color marked the recent Blacks in Government Health Symposium held at BIG's 27th annual training conference in Orlando. The symposium, cosponsored by the BIG National Health Initiative and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, focused on successful public health interventions and taking charge of your own wellness.

Anecdotal data says many African Americans tend to take care of others — family members, coworkers and friends — before tending to their own health needs. Experts talked about how innovations in research have improved health within majority populations, but have not significantly closed health gaps among African Americans, Hispanics and other minority groups. Despite research and technological advances in medicine that have helped people manage chronic illnesses once thought deadly, communities of color still lag behind majority populations in morbidity and mortality rates for such disorders as diabetes, asthma, obesity and many cancers.

  Dr. Beverly Lyn-Cook of the Food and Drug Administration chairs the health symposium.

More than 300 people attended the symposium. Health and research presenters included many with ties to NIH:

Former NIDDK intramural investigator Dr. Wayne Bowen, now professor of molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology at Brown University, discussed breast cancer and neurodegenerative diseases;

Dr. Edward Treadwell, a professor of medicine at East Carolina University who participates in the NIEHS-funded Carolina Lupus Study, offered overwhelming evidence on the misdiagnosis of lupus in people of color;

Former NHLBI sickle cell disease investigator Dr. Marilyn Gaston, an ex-assistant U.S. surgeon general, provided evidence-based research on diabetes;

  Symposium presenters Dr. Wayne Bowen and Dr. Peggy Shepard offer health information at BIG's recent national training conference in Orlando.

Former NIEHS grantee and advisory council member Dr. Peggy Shepard, co-founder of West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc., discussed how New York's first environmental justice organization was created to improve environmental health and quality of life in communities of color; and

NCMHD Project EXPORT grantee Dr. Lovell Jones, professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center's departments of gynecologic oncology, and biochemistry and molecular biology, showed data on the disproportionate rates of cancer among people of color, as well as limited access to proper health care and demonstrations of bias in health care delivery systems.

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