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National Center on Minority Health and Health Dispartities

Administrative Core

Coordinates all activities and programs in the Center of Excellence. The primary role of this core is to foster and coordinate interaction between the Research, Research Education and Training, and the Community Outreach Core. This core provides scientific and administrative leadership for the Center of Excellence by working with leadership at USC and Claflin University, evaluating the impact and effectiveness of the Center, and developing strategies for long-term sustainability for the Center to reduce health disparities.

Integrated Research, Education, and Training Core (IRET)

Provides leadership, infrastructure, oversight, and support to facilitate and guide the research initiatives between the two partnering institutions. The Research Core consists of two major (five year) projects and one pilot study (two years) focusing on HIV/AIDS, HPV and cervical cancer.

Project 1 is directed by Dr. Omar Bagasra. The major aim of this project is to establish a Molecular Virology Laboratory (MVL) [watch the video now | download the video] at Claflin University. The MVL will make quantitative measurements of HIV type 1 (the cause of AIDS) and associated viruses (like human herpes virus type 8) in blood, and measure the levels of various types of HPV in Pap tests. The MVL will also serve as a training center for students interested in careers in health sciences emphasizing viral disease and health disparities.

Project 2 is directed by Dr. Kim Creek, Dr. Lucia A. Pirisi-Creek, and Dr. Omar Bagasra. This study involves female college students at the University of South Carolina and Claflin University. The project examines immunological, environmental, and other factors related to why some women are able to get rid of HPV infection other women are not.

Pilot Project 1 is directed by Dr. Gregory A. Hand. HIV-infected people exhibit a high incidence of oral disease which is related to a reduction in oral immunity. The reduction in oral immunity may be the result of increased stress and stress hormone levels in the HIV infected individuals. Several studies indicate that acupuncture (ACU) can reduce stress and stimulate immune function. The goal of this study is to determine the efficacy of a standardized stress-reduction ACU regimen, administered in a group setting, in reducing oral immunosuppression in HIV-infected African American's in Columbia and Orangeburg. The results from this study will be implemented in the communities involved in the Community Partnerships and Outreach Core.

In addition, the IRET core implements strategies designed to increase the number of highly trained minority health professionals involved in health disparities research, specifically biomedical and behavioral. This core recruits and develops minority students entering careers in public health and health disparities research; and increases the capacity for public health and health disparities research at the partner institutions. This core also will provide mentored training that will increase the number of minorities conducting research, with specific emphasis on increasing the number of faculty and graduate students trained in public health.

Community Partnerships & Outreach Core

Focuses on engaging the Orangeburg County community in activities that will provide technical assistance for community leaders which will empower them to address the reduction of HIV/AIDS and HPV/cervical cancer. This core serves as a resource for the community by supporting community health efforts, educational outreach, and funding community programs.