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Tuskegee University has established the Center for Rural Health and Economic Equity. The Center will facilitate the interactions necessary to help address COVID-19 health disparities by improving ethical data collection, testing, contact tracing, treatment, and public awareness in the rural black belt counties of Alabama.
The Center has a focused mission of improving the social, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of black and brown people living in America. Through the Center, Tuskegee University’s world-renowned research faculty will have the necessary support to provide ethical transdisciplinary approaches to numerous disparities including cancer therapies, diabetes and cervical cancer prevention, violence prevention, mental health and nutrition deficiencies.
The Center will be led by Attorney Crystal James and Dr. Clayton Yates, who have been appointed as co-directors. The role of the co-directors will be to create the environment that supports legacy building scientists as they pilot novel projects that address the most pressing issue facing communities of Color. “The emergence of the global pandemic of COVID-19 has highlighted the health disparities of Blacks in America and other marginalized communities,” noted Attorney James. “These differences are even more pronounced in rural communities who have limited access to quality health care.”
James serves as Head of the Department of Graduate Public Health and Special Assistant to the President for COVID-19 and provides expertise regarding the COVID-19 mitigation plan. She has also been integrally involved in securing support from ThermoFisher and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in support of the Tuskegee Health Disparities Diagnostic Center. Her work has led to $4 million of new funding to support the University’s pandemic response.
Dr. Yates currently serves as professor and director of the Center for Biomedical Research and was recently named to the 2020 list of 100 inspiring Black Scientists in America by Cell Reports. He has received numerous research honors and awards in health disparities and is chair elect for the Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) advisory community to the American Association for Cancer Research. Yates has also received $30 million dollars in extramural funding in health disparities research, where he is currently serving as the MPI of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded UAB/MSM/TU Cancer Partnership to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, and PI of the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities funded Research Centers for Minority Institutions (RCMI) at Tuskegee University.
This collaborative Center will report directly to the Office of President and work with the Office of Advancement to leverage support to increase health equity from public, private, and individual donors who are interested in playing an active role in decreasing disparities.
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