Pitt hosts national summit tackling poverty research cuts

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LARRY DAVIS

 

As a result of sequestration cuts, the National Institutes of Health will see funding for medical research reduced from $5.6 billion to $4.77 billion. Similarly, federal funding for the National Science Foundation is being reduced by $586 million.

Grants from these and other organizations experiencing cuts are used by research centers on race, ethnicity and poverty. On June 6, leaders from 30 research centers around the country visited the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems to discuss issues such as the recent funding cuts and to create opportunities for future collaboration.

The two-day summit, hosted by Pitt’s School of Social Work, served as a place for center leaders to find solutions to common issues, but also to share their research. Areas of focus among the center included the internalization of racial stereotypes, reducing the wealth gap, and education disparities.

“This is a great collection of centers, I’ve been really impressed with what these centers are doing,” said Larry Davis, Dean of the School of Social Work. “Some centers are just focused on research but 60 percent of these centers have had an impact on their universities and the community. A lot of the time, people think we’re only focused on academic research, but a lot of these centers are actually impacting the community and the diversity of their institutions.”

Leaders from two nationally renowned centers provided presentations on “Future Directions for Funded Research.” While their presentations focused heavily on sources for funding, the speakers also shared how centers can make their research more attractive to funders by pairing it with a practical application.

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CLEOPATRA CALDWELL

“We’re no longer saying there is a difference, we’re saying why those differences exist and what can be done about it,” said Cleopatra Caldwell, director of the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “It’s one thing to identify disparities, it’s another thing to do something about it.”

The connections between race, ethnicity, and poverty and health disparities seemed to be a continuous thread in the research of several centers. Directors at the centers used this connection to secure funding from medical and health foundations.

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THOMAS LA VEIST

“The nation is changing. We’re becoming more diverse and people we currently refer to as minorities are going to become the majority,” said Thomas LaVeist, director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If we can’t get a handle on healthcare disparities, there’s no way we’ll be able to maintain our place as an international leader.”  

LaVeist was involved in the first national study on African-Americans. However, despite his success, even Johns Hopkins University will see funding to its center cut by ten percent overall.

“It’s impacting everyone; it’s huge. Not only did we get cut last year, but there was an additional cut this year,” LaVeist said. “It’s going to be devastating. It really stops us from doing this work.”

 

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