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Health Disparities

The United States has become increasingly diverse in the last century, and though health indicators such as life expectancy and infant mortality have improved for most Americans, some minorities experience a disproportionate burden of preventable disease, death, and disability compared with non-minorities.

The FIU-Health Disparities Initiative, funded by a $9.5 million National Institute of Health's National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) grant, provides community-based prevention, treatment, and outcome research focused on HIV, substance abuse, diabetes, obesity and other chronic illnesses that disproportionately impact African Americans, Hispanics, Haitians, and other underserved communities in South Florida and the Caribbean region.

The Center for Research on U.S. Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse (CRUSADA) at FIU was established in 2003 in order to address the escalating twin epidemics of substance abuse and HIV/AIDS affecting Latino communities throughout South Florida. This pioneering nationally and internationally recognized Center currently houses grant awards from several of the prestigious institutes within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Additionally, the FIU-Banyan Research Institute on Dissemination, Grants, & Evaluation (FIU-BRIDGE) is a multidisciplinary preventative research institute, and represents a strategic alliance between FIU and Banyan Health Systems. With more than $30 million in extramural support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other private foundations, FIU-BRIDGE is devoted to the design, implementation, and evaluation of school- and community-based prevention and brief intervention strategies.

Research Leads

Mario De La Rosa, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Research on U.S. Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse

Dr. De La Rosa is a Professor of Social Work at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at FIU. Dr. De La Rosa is an internationally known researcher who has published over 70 scholarly publications focusing on Latino substance abuse, substance use as a risk factor for HIV/AIDS, violence, delinquency, and cross-cultural issues.

Eric F. Wagner, Ph.D.
Director, FIU-Banyan Research Institute on Dissemination, Grants, & Evaluation

Dr. Wagner is a Professor at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at FIU, where he directs FIU-BRIDGE. Dr. Wagner's interests are in the areas of adolescent substance abuse, the empirical evaluation of community-based psychotherapeutic intervention, and developing and testing developmentally sensitive interventions for minority teens.