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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 in part 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 underserved communities in South Florida and the Caribbean region.

The Brain, Behavior and the Environment Program is a transdisciplinary initiative that unites the dynamic and diverse neuroscience community at FIU in the pursuit of advancing research on the environmental, social and biological causes of neurological disease, with an emphasis on diverse and older populations of African Americans and Latinos in the United States. FIU’s researchers and other national thought leaders are devising strategies for the early diagnosis of neurological disease; the identification of risk associated with toxic exposures, social and economic factors; and interventions for neurological disorders using cutting-edge science and engineering.

Brain, Behavior and the Environment

The Brain, Behavior and the Environment Program is a transdisciplinary initiative that unites the dynamic and diverse neuroscience community at FIU in the pursuit of three goals: to create and empower research programs focused on environmental causes of neurological disease; to devise strategies and develop treatments for neurological disorders using novel neuroscience and engineering tools as well as pharmacological approaches; and to establish a rich educational resource in South Florida to educate students, faculty, clinicians, the public, and health officials on the role that environmental factors play on neurological disease.  FIU’s researchers are devising strategies for the early diagnosis of neurological disease; the identification of risk associated with toxic exposures, social and economic factors; and interventions for neurological disorders using cutting-edge science and engineering.

Health Inequities and Disparities

The Health Inequities and Disparities Program is a multidisciplinary group of faculty and students who are dedicated to advancing research efforts by conducting community-based participatory research; determining the impact of HIV, substance abuse and ethnicity on health outcomes and barriers in access to healthcare; and developing and testing culturally appropriate substance abuse and HIV prevention and treatment programs.

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.

Tomás R. Guilarte, Ph.D.
Dean, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work;Director, Brain Behavior & the Environment

Dr. Guilarte is a Professor at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at FIU, where he directs the Brain, Behavior and the Environment lab. Dr. Guilarte’s research explores the impact of environmental pollutants on neurological and mental disease. His work uses behavioral, cellular and molecular approaches, ranging from studies using primary culture of brain cells to the application of brain imaging technologies.
 

Jason Richardson, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work 

Dr. Jason Richardson is Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University.Dr. Richardson’s research focuses on the role of environmental exposures and their interactions with genetic susceptibility as contributors to neurological disease using translational approaches.

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.