Marcella Nunez Smith awarded nearly $10 million to launch health equity research center focused on precision medicine

Dr. Marcella Nunez Smith, associate professor of medicine and public health, and her colleagues at Yale Schoo of Medicine, the University of Puerto Rico, the University of the Virgin Islands, and the University of the West Indies (Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago), have been awarded nearly $10 million in funding over five years from the National Institute of Health/National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIH/NIMHD).

The funding, which is part of a larger federal effort to support precision medicine research, will establish the Yale Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center for Health Disparities Research focused on Precision Medicine (YALE-TCC).

NIMHD will provide more than $50 million over five years to launch transdisciplinary research centers at five academic institutions nationwide to “explore the potential for precision medicine to promote health equity and further the science of minority health and health disparities.”

The YALE-TCC builds upon research lead by Nunez Smith and previously funded by NIMHD to establish the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN). Using different types of data, the YALE-TCC aims to improve early identification of individuals at risk for hypertension and type 2 diabetes — growing problems within the region.

“The Caribbean, like much of the world, is facing an epidemic of noncommunicable disease with vast social and economic implications. Importantly, our framework for precision medicine research includes social, biological, and clinical determinants of health outcomes,” Nunez Smith said. “We are collaborating with community and policy leaders in the region to generate novel science, strengthen partnerships, and implement key interventions.”

Nunez Smith is also deputy director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, core faculty in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, and research faculty at Yale’s Global Health Leadership Institute. In 2014, she launched the Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale, where the YALE-TCC will be housed.

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