Minority health research center awarded $6.3M NIH grant

The Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC) has received a $6.3 million dollar research award from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health. This award, over a five-year period, will enable SIRC to expand its impactful research, research education and training, and community engagement and outreach efforts, which the center has pursued for more than a decade.

“Health Disparities Research at SIRC: Cultural Processes in Risk and Resiliency” is a competitive continuation award following the initial five-year grant received in 2007 establishing SIRC as a national Exploratory Center of Excellence for health disparities research.

The award will fund new research, including studies on substance abuse and obesity prevention with Latino youth and their families in central and south Phoenix neighborhoods; a state-wide study of substance use among urban American Indian youth; cardiovascular disease in African American men in Phoenix area barbershops; expansion of the center’s research and policy focus, and intensify efforts to educate the next generation of health disparities researchers.

“This new award is a testament to the extraordinary work of the SIRC staff, researchers and community partners during our first five years as a center of excellence and the year-long planning process in partnership with diverse communities which produced a now-funded competitive proposal,” said Flavio F. Marsiglia, SIRC’s founding director and professor of social work. “We are delighted to know that we will be able to intensify our efforts to develop and test innovative interventions that can prevent, reduce and eventually eliminate health disparities in our communities.

"This award recognizes, and is largely due to, the strong research partnerships that SIRC has established between ASU and the vibrant and diverse communities in which it is embedded. We are most thankful to the NIMHD/NIH for their support and confidence in our work,” Marsiglia said.

The center’s work epitomizes the community-centric approach that is at the core of so much of what ASU does, said ASU President Michael Crow.

"ASU and its faculty are committed to solving at the front lines of real-world problems in real time," Crow said. "This group, led by Flavio Marsiglia, is bringing new theory and new evidence to very difficult problems – exactly what ASU is focusing its talent and energy on."

Jonathan Koppell, dean of ASU’s College of Public Programs, said the award recognizes the center’s community-based research by one of the nation’s pre-eminent funding agencies.

“SIRC is a world-class research center of which the college, university and state can be proud," Koppell said. "I am confident that Dr. Marsiglia and his dedicated team will continue to conduct groundbreaking research that impacts the lives of countless communities across the southwest United States and beyond.” .

ASU Provost Elizabeth Capaldi added: “This new award puts ASU in the spotlight at a national and international level as a leader in cutting-edge minority health research at a time when the U.S. Census is reporting that the majority of new babies in the country are being born in minority communities. The new knowledge to be generated by this grant is timely and highly significant for Arizona and the nation.”

While SIRC is affiliated with the School of Social Work in the College of Public Programs at ASU, its work, investigators and community partners are transdisciplinary. Contributors to the projects that make up the center come from multiple units within ASU and institutions across the United States and globally. They include the Arizona Department of Health; American Dream Academy; St. Vincent de Paul; several Phoenix school districts; Valley of the Sun YMCA; ASU Social Work and Public Affairs in the College of Public Programs; the College of Nursing and Health Innovation; the School of Social and Family Dynamics, American Indian Studies, and Hugh Downs School of Human Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.