The Community Diabetes Initiatives of USC and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles has announced a partnership with the UCLA School of Public Health, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and several other community collaborators to form the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities.
The center, which is aimed at reducing cardiovascular disease risk among Latinos in East Los Angeles, will be funded by a $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Anne Peters, professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, joined UCLA faculty and community leaders on May 3 to announce the grant at the Los Angeles County Roybal Comprehensive Health Center in East Los Angeles, where participants will be recruited for studies and community-based interventions.
East Los Angeles residents experience higher rates of obesity-related chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and stroke, especially in comparison to residents in other areas of Los Angeles.
“The more I talked to my patients, the more I realized it was the community that needed to be fixed,” said Peters, who also serves as the director of the Comprehensive Diabetes Center at Roybal Comprehensive Health Center. “[The new center] is a tremendously powerful merger. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to do this.”
The center will carry out two behavioral and environment-intervention projects and one interdisciplinary social and basic science project, all designed to bring positive changes to the community by focusing on key factors that affect health outcomes.
Alex Ortega, a professor of health services at the UCLA School of Public Health, will be the principal investigator.
Peters will co-lead a home-environment intervention involving families in which one member is at high-risk for cardiovascular disease and is enrolled in a local diabetes-care clinic serving low-income patients. The intervention will include re-engineering the home to encourage consumption of more fruits and vegetables, to root out high-sodium and processed foods, and to reduce television watching. Participants also will be encouraged to frequent the East Los Angeles Farmers Market and select corner stores featuring fruits and vegetables.
This project will examine the role of acculturation on vascular function and cardiovascular disease among Latinos of different generations within the same families, who also are likely to vary in immigrant status.
This project will make over four corner market stores in East Los Angeles to enable them to market and provide healthier food options and to serve as venues for training community members in how to create healthier food options and prepare healthier meals.
Through a training and career development program established as part of the grant, the center will work with community health workers and recruit students from public high schools in the community to act as “public health rookies” in the different interventions.
The rookies are expected to develop leadership at the local level and develop a better understanding of the impact of the food environment on healthy eating.
The center will fund a research methods core program that will provide methodological and statistical support across the projects.