The National Institutes of Health has awarded a research team at Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine $6 million for a five-year partnership to address health disparities between African Americans and Caucasians who are at high risk for developing cardiovascular disease. The Emory-Morehouse School of Medicine partnership is one of only six programs nationwide funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to address cardiovascular health disparities.
The partnerships consist of a collaborative interchange among research-intensive institutions, minority-serving systems, academicians, clinicians, public health practitioners, students and laypersons all working within high-risk ethnic communities.
The Atlanta research program will be unique in its focus on the "metabolic syndrome," a cluster of health risk factors including hypertension, abnormal cholesterol, high triglycerides, abdominal obesity and elevated blood glucose. Individuals with at least three of those factors are identified as having metabolic syndrome, which puts them at very high risk for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The Morehouse School of Medicine and Emory University partnership is entitled META-Health (Morehouse and Emory are Teaming up to eliminAte Health Disparities).
META-Health also is unique in focusing on a large, diverse ethnic population living in the Southeast, which is the geographic region at greatest risk for cardiovascular disease. According to several epidemiologic studies, African Americans are more likely to experience cardiovascular disease and death than are Caucasians. The goal of the partnership is to first identify specific differences in risk factors in those two populations, including differences in biomarkers, clinical signs and psychosocial factors, as well as disparities in recognition and treatment of metabolic syndrome. Armed with a greater understanding of the multitude of factors involved in risk, the research team will then develop and test targeted interventions aimed at improving overall cardiovascular health.
At Emory, the META-Health partnership team will be led by Arshed Quyyumi, MD, professor of medicine (cardiology) in Emory University School of Medicine along with Sandra Dunbar, RN, DSN, Charles Howard Candler professor of cardiovascular nursing in Emory¹s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Viola Vaccarino, MD, and Bobby Khan, MD, PhD. At Morehouse School of Medicine, the META-Health partnership team is led by Gary H. Gibbons, MD, director and founder of the Morehouse School of Medicine Cardiovascular Research Institute, along with Rebecca Din, MD, PhD and Priscilla Pemu, MD.
The META-Health project includes four major aims that address metabolic syndrome from a broad sociological, cultural and biomedical perspective.
In their first project, the researchers will conduct a large random telephone survey about risk factors that may influence the development of metabolic syndrome. The survey will be followed by detailed assessments of 1,000 people, either in their homes or during a visit to the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) at Emory University Hospital, Grady Memorial Hospital or the Morehouse School of Medicine Clinical Research Center.
In a second project, the research team will assess the standard of care for patients with metabolic syndrome in the Morehouse Community Practice Network, a group of primary care clinics that partner with Morehouse School of Medicine under the direction of Elizabeth Ofili, MD, director of the Clinical Research Center.