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VOLUME 3- May 2020
From the Director of CDIP
Dear Readers, 
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in various ways. It is particularly an impactful event for the Center for Diversity and International Programs. Minority Health and Health Disparities are an important focus of CDIP. The COVID-19 has exposed the significant health disparities in our communities. While the virus infection has been equal, the burden of virus-related deaths has been borne significantly by the racial/ethnic minorities who were already experiencing disproportionate burden of chronic diseases. Our HSC faculty are developing strategies and research projects to study the effect of COVID-19 on racial/ethnic segments of our community. Another important focus of CDIP is mentoring and networking. With our institutions moving all of the classes online and studying and working remotely, at no time the need and significance of having a mentor has been of a greater need. The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) housed at HSC was developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health to provide such virtual mentoring and networking. Our NRMN team members have been very busy working with partner societies, institutions and projects on providing the mentorship and networking programs to faculty and students nationwide. Working together, we will overcome the challenge of COVID-19, and the CDIP team will continue the excellent contribution made to the areas of health disparities, minority health and broadening participation in health professional fields.
Regents Professor and Vice President
Founding Director, Texas Center for Health Disparities
Principal Investigator, National Research Mentoring Network
Center for Diversity and International Programs
University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth
SAVE THE DATE! Update on the Annual Conference
15th Annual TCHD Conference: "Women's Health Disparities"

The TCHD leadership intends to conduct the conference in a virtual platform. The virtual conference will be held on June 11-12, 2020.

The conference will focus on the significant disparities that occur in various racial/ethnic groups that impact women’s health, including breast and cervical cancer, poor pregnancy outcomes, metabolic health, and mental health.Nationally renowned experts in various health disparities will present their ongoing work in the fields of minority health and health disparities.

To register please visit:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

*We will NOT be accepting abstracts this year*

For more information please visit Texas Center for Health Disparities
Check out Dr. Vishwanatha's interviews with NBC DFW and The Austin Statesman!

Dr. Diana Cervantes is currently participating in the Steps Toward Academic Research (STAR) Leadership Program under the NIMHD Specialized Centers of Excellence in Minority Health and Health Disparities at UNTHSC. Dr. Cervantes is developing her research into minority health and health disparities working with mentors and coaches in the STAR Leadership Program.

Dr. Brandy Roane is the director for the The Sleep Research Lab. Her research focuses on examining the combined influence of physiological, behavioral, and social factors on health with a specific focus on: (a) exploring links between sleep and subsequent psychopathology and chronic medical conditions, and (b) developing effective prevention and intervention treatments. Dr. Roane is currently participating in the Steps Toward Academic Research (STAR) Leadership Program
Story by Sally Crocker

Dr. Erika Thompson is the Assistant Professor and Maternal and Child Health MPH Program Director. Her special areas of focus includes research to address sexual and reproductive health, and maternal and child health issues.   Dr. Thompson is currently participating in the Steps Toward Academic Research (STAR) Leadership Program.
Congratulations to the new Fellows of Cohort 3 for IMSD!
Danielle Reid
Micaela Colmenarez
Akpedje Dossou
The IMSD (Initiative to Maximize Student Diversity) Fellowship Program at UNTHSC has selected its third cohort, which began in Feb 2020.
Danielle Reid and Micaela Colmenarez are both from the Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics department studying under Dr. Nicole Phillips and Akpedje Dossou is from the Physiology & Anatomy department studying under Dr. Andras Lacko.

The IMSD program will provide financial support and professional development activities toward their successful completion of the scholars doctoral degree. The scholars are awarded this support through this program for two years. The University of North Texas Health Science Center IMSD Fellowship is funded by the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).The overarching goal of the IMSD Program, is to support the timely completion of Ph.D. degrees by underrepresented groups and their transition into successful biomedical careers. The main objectives of this program are to:  
  • Enhance the pool of underrepresented students that complete a Ph.D. and continue in biomedical research careers. 
  • To ensure that at least 80% of Ph.D. students will complete the Ph.D. degree.         

  • Contribute to ongoing student and faculty efforts to reduce the gap in the completion of Ph.D. degrees between underrepresented students and those from other backgrounds in participating departments.
Updates to our programs
Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP)

Due to concerns and spread of coronavirus COVID-19 in the United States and abroad, it is therefore, with regret, that we must cancel our 2020 Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP). 

We did not reach this decision easily or without careful research and serious consideration with the uncertainty of the weeks and months ahead. Because of the cancellation, those that were accepted into the SMART and DURA-M Programs will have the opportunity to participate in our 2021 SRIP Programs.  Both programs support the short-term research training for undergraduate students over a 10-week period in the summer at the UNTHSC.

Please contact Heather Longtin for any questions,
Highlighting Recent Publications
Serum exosomal-annexin A2: a novel biomarker for African-American triple-negative breast cancer patients

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an aggressive subtype of breast cancer, affects African-American (AA) women three times more frequently than Caucasian-American (CA) women. Metastasis to vital organs such as bone, lung, and brain is associated with the high mortality rate in AA women with TNBC. Therefore, it is critical to investigate the molecular mechanisms that lead to aggressive metastasis in AA women so that improved therapeutic options can be developed for AA TNBC patients. The pathogenesis of metastasis is thought to be mediated by communications between tumor cells and normal organ cells, also called stromal cells. These “tumor-stromal” communications are often mediated by cellular pathways that transmit information from tumor cells to stromal cells. Communication between tumor and stromal cells are mainly mediated by secreted small vesicles, called exosomes. In a recent study led by Chaudhary et al. ((2020) Breast Cancer Research. 22(1):11) at University of North Texas Health Science Center, showed that protein called Annexin A2 (AnxA2) is significantly elevated in exosomes isolated from serum of the breast cancer patients and plays an important role in angiogenesis. The high expression of exosomal-AnxA2 is associated with poor overall survival, and disease-free survival of breast cancer patients. Chaudhary et al. revealed that the AnxA2 protein is significantly upregulated in exosomes derived from TNBC patients with high diagnostic value in comparison to other breast cancer subtypes. In addition, the aggressiveness of TNBC in AA women is linked with the high expression of exosomal-AnxA2 levels present in their serum compared to CA TNBC women. Chaudhary et al., predicted that the detection of serum exosomal-AnxA2 levels could be useful for the diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy for AA women with TNBC.
This study examined health literacy of postpartum education materials assessing readability, understandability and cultural sensitivity using common health literacy measures. Materials examined rated poorly on measures of health literacy and cultural sensitivity using evidence-based measures including the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT), Fry-based Readability and National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS). Findings suggested a need for health literate and culturally sensitive postpartum education. Materials and an App were developed for new moms to help them identify postpartum warning-signs and appropriate action moms should take to address symptoms or seek emergent care.
Success Story from a CDIP Program
We are always humbled by the appreciation received from past program participants. In a recent email, Ginikachukwu A. Obi shared with us her latest accomplishment of being accepted to the COE in Health Equity, Training and Research TPP Scholars Post baccalaureate Program. "I got selected" Now in her 6 months of training at Baylor College of Medicine, Ginikachukwu A. Obi states that "I am absolutely love it! Just like the DURA-M program, this has been another wonderful exposure broadening my passion for science and medicine!" -
Ginikachukwu A. ObiCOE TPP Scholar
Baylor College of Medicine

Developing Undergraduate Researchers-Matter (DURA-M)...

DURA-M, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addresses the significant gap in the number of underrepresented minority groups, disadvantaged populations and individuals with disabilities that enter biomedical and behavioral science...

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Upcoming Grant Opportunities
NIMHD R21 mechanism: 
NIMHD Administrative Supplements for COVID-19 impact:
NRMN Updates
MyNRMN's MyMentor: A Venture to Mentoring Virtually

Wow - so this is it. This is our new, hopefully temporary, reality. No physical contact outside of the household, new adorable "coworkers," and an array of creative solutions for masks. However, what hasn't changed is our needs. We still need...

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