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UHC Awarded $1.2 million to Establish a Training Program for Cardiovascular Disease Risk Research in Central America

October 4, 2021

The Drexel Urban Health Collaborative, in partnership with the Institute for Nutrition of Central America and Panama have partnered to establish a training program focused on developing the research capabilities of trainees and local capacity building in the conduct of policy-relevant research on the influence of social determinants and place-based factors on CVD risk across the lifespan. The training program, led by Brisa Sánchez, PhD, Dornsife Endowed Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH, Dean of the Dornsife School of Public Health and Director, Urban Health Collaborative, was awarded a 5-year, $1,233,047 grant from the National Institutes of Health and the Fogarty International Center.

Over the last several decades, cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence and the prevalence of CVD risk factors have steadily increased in the Central American region. The rise of CVD in the region has occurred parallel to the increases in urbanization and widening social inequities, and poses a growing burden for its limited public health and health care systems. Training and mentoring of the local workforce in identifying relevant research questions, in the use of appropriate research methods, and in the dissemination of results to the scientific community, the public, and policy makers is critical to identify and develop interventions to prevent CVD in the region.

The program will focus on training and supporting the next generation of researchers in the field by training doctoral and masters’ students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting faculty fellows. Training will also be provided through annual workshops and periodic webinars on social determinants of health, CVD and lifecourse epidemiology, and research methods. In addition to examining the social determinants of CVD risk, the program will identify actionable factors (from cities, to neighborhoods, to people) at multiple levels to address CVD risk factors in the Central American region by disseminating and translating research findings into policy actions.