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CRUSADA has been working with FIU's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (FIU-COM) to advance the research infrastructure at FIU to conduct transdisciplinary behavioral and social research on the sociocultural determinants of health. With this aim, CRUSADA and FIU-COM have been developing a proposal to submit to the National Institutes of Health for funding to carry out the collaborative project.
The objective of the project is build a transdisciplinary research team linking (a) health sciences medical experts and (b) leading behavioral/social science researchers to conduct health disparities research. This team will conduct an exploratory pilot study on the influence of the risk environment on HIV risky behaviors among people living in Miami-Dade County, the area with the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the country. Dr. Mario De La Rosa, (Director of CRUSADA) and Dr. Kenneth Obiaja (Assistant Professor of Family Medicine from the College of Medicine) are taking the lead in this groundbreaking proposal to build FIU's capacity to research and better understand health disparities in South Florida and the United States. Dr. Leah Varga, from FIU's Division of Research, complements the team and will be coordinating the research activities of the project.
This collaboration between CRUSADA and FIU-COM is not without precedent. In 2010, FIU-COM received funding to conduct a community-wide benchmark and needs assessment survey with 2,200 households in the area of Little Haiti, Miami, FL. This was one of four research projects of the Haitian Disaster Relieve Initiative, CRUSADA's NIH funded Haitian Administrative Supplement Initiative. The aim of this project was to document conditions pre- and post- the 2010 Haiti earthquake, migration patterns, and the influence of social determinants on health status of individuals and families living in the Little Haiti community of Miami-Dade County. The transdisciplinary proposal is scheduled to be submitted to the National Institutes of Health Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) in February 2013.