The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded an $11.3 million Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) grant to establish the Children’s Health Equity Solutions Center (CHESC) through Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. The grant is a multi-institutional group of OSU and University of Oklahoma researchers with the long-term goal of eliminating unjust differences in children’s health by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status through effective translational science.
Located in Tulsa, the CHESC will build OSU’s research environment by increasing the number of researchers who will develop the scientific infrastructure required for linking the origins, outcomes and solutions to children’s health inequities.
Dr. Jennifer Hays-Grudo, Regents professor of human development and family science in the College of Human Sciences at OSU, is the principal investigator who will lead a team of eight researchers from OSU colleges of Human Sciences and Education, OSU Center for Health Sciences and OU-Tulsa.
While many research centers focus on health disparities and inequities throughout the country, none of them focus specifically on children’s health inequities. With Oklahoma’s ratings among the 10 worst states in the nation for child health outcomes, a research center will provide much needed information and solutions to this critical health and economic issue.
Hays-Grudo said children in Tulsa experience substantial differences in their health, and, with campuses of the state’s two major research universities there, locating it in Tulsa promotes a collaborative project.
“Within the metropolitan areas, there is a 14-year gap in life expectancy between north and south Tulsa,” she said. “The lives of children born in two north and west zip codes can be expected to be 20 percent shorter than those of children living in zip codes to the south.”
Data suggest that many of the health-related consequences of poverty are concentrated among African Americans, Hispanics and American Indian children. Three separate research projects will investigate teen birth rates and the results of alcohol, tobacco and other substances use in minority youth.
Embracing a novel view of translational science from bench to bedside to community, CHESC researchers will utilize methods and activities to disseminate information and develop interventions to improve the health of individuals and the public.
“Although this research is centered in Tulsa, the results of the CHESC’s research is likely to have widespread applicability for the state of Oklahoma as well as other major urban centers of comparable size,” Hays-Grudo said.
The NIH is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. The NIH both conducts its own scientific research through its Intramural Research Program (IRP) and provides major biomedical research funding to non-NIH research facilities through its Extramural Research Program.