We have designated a Research Coordinator and established a subcommittee to strategize implementation of Research Core activities.

HERI has also Partnered with Solix Grants Management Solutions to solicit, review and identify highly competitive multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional and community-led health equity research projects with high potential for federal funding.

The Florida Health Equity Research Institute (HERI) is proud to announce the two awardees for the Multi-Disciplinary, Multi-Institutional, and Community-based (MMC) grants. 

Dr. Jevetta Stanford:

Dr. Jevetta Stanford is a Research Assistant Professor for the Community Engagement and Research Program Jacksonville in UF/ College of Medicine’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. In this role, she facilitates the coordination and implementation of research studies conducted by UF investigators outside of Jacksonville and assists in building successful academic-community partnerships in efforts to conduct community based research. Dr. Stanford began her professional career in 2004, with the Baker County Health Department as the Health Educator for an outreach program designed to connect limited resource residents with health resources such as disease specific health education, primary care, mental health, and substance abuse services.  During her tenure with the Health Department, she also lead the community through a county wide health needs assessment and health improvement initiative to raise awareness of identified health priorities. 

Dr. Stanford began her tenure with the University of Florida in the Institute of Food Agricultural Science in 2005, as County Extension Faculty for the Youth EFENP program in Duval County.  In this role, she worked hard to develop community partnerships to propel the program into a variety of settings such as after school programs, schools, summer camps and community outreach venues. In 2009, she accepted the position as State Specialist and Nutrition Education Coordinator for the Family Nutrition Program. In this role, she provided leadership to 60 county faculty members and staff in nutrition education curriculum selection, program development and evaluation.  In 2010, she accepted a position in with College of Medicine in Clinical and Translation Science Institute, Community Engagement and Research Program. Dr. Stanford received a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Florida State University in 2001 and a Master of Regional and Community Planning from Kansas State University in 2004.  She recently completed a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of North Florida, with an emphasis in public health.  Her dissertation research involved employing a quantitative, non-experimental, multivariate correlational research design to test a hypothesized model examining associative paths of influence between ecological factors and weight status of urban, African-American adolescent females. Her current research interest involves understanding the contributions of individual, social and contextual factors on the clinical progression of low-risk prostate cancer in Black men. Dr. Jevetta Stanford’s abstract titled “Exploring Racial Differences in Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceptions, and Practices of the Active Surveillance Process in Low-Risk Prostate Patients.”

The ongoing controversy regarding over-diagnosis and treatment of low-risk prostate cancer (CaP) has caused a surge in the frequency of men receiving active surveillance (AS) for CaP management and treatment. AS is a therapeutic strategy that involves monitoring the patient’s disease progression over time with repeated biomarker testing, physical examination, imaging, and prostate biopsies. Black men (BM) receive active surveillance (AS) as a prostate cancer (CaP) treatment more often when compared to White men (WM). Given BM in the United States (US) are disproportionately affected by CaP, mechanisms to systematically examine and describe racial differences in knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and practices (KAPP) in low-risk CaP patients regarding the AS process are needed. The literature offers some insight to this end, but offers very little when specifically addressing BM.  Current clinical guidelines do not include interventions such as chemoprevention or diet and lifestyle modifications, although both show promise in preventing CaP disease progression in AS patients.  As a result, AS patients’ KAPPs towards incorporating chemoprevention and diet and lifestyle changes into their AS treatment practices, outside of research protocols, remains unexplored. Guided by a Grounded Theory conceptual framework, this exploratory research is designed to examine and describe differences in KAPPs of low-risk CaP patients regarding the AS treatment process. To this end, we will conduct semi-structured interviews with 36-40 Black and White, non-Hispanic males, diagnosed with low-risk CaP and currently on AS. Interviews will be transcribed and analyzed using Atlas.t.i. qualitative data analysis software. The research will be guided by the input of the Community Co-Investigator, a CaP Survivor, and advised by the Community Research Advisory Board (CRAB). Findings will be disseminated to both community and scientific audiences. 

Dr. Rhonda Cooper-DeHoff:

Dr. Rhonda Cooper-DeHoff is the associate director of the Center for Pharmacogenomics, and associate professor in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Translational Research and the Department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. In addition, she serves as associate professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the UF College of Medicine. Dr. Cooper-DeHoff’s research interests include hypertension, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Dr. Cooper-DeHoff is the principal investigator for the NIH-funded Career Development Award (K23) entitled “Metabolic Effects of Antihypertensive Drugs.” She was an investigator of the International Verapamil Trandolapril Study (INVEST), which evaluated hypertension treatments in elderly coronary artery disease patients, and is a co-investigator on two NIH grants evaluating pharmacogenetic associations in hypertension. She is a member of the American Heart Association, American Society of Hypertension, American College of Cardiology, and Florida Society of Hospital Pharmacists. Dr. Cooper-DeHoff serves as a scientific reviewer for several journals, including Circulation, Annals of Pharmacotherapy, Lancet, and many others. In 2015, Dr. Cooper-DeHoff was given the American College of Cardiology’s Distinguished Associate Award, the first given to a pharmacist.

Dr. Cooper-DeHoff’s Abstract Titled “Optimizing Rural Health Clinic Infrastructure to Maximize BP Control (OPTI-BP).” Hypertension (HTN) is the most common chronic disease and is a major modifiable risk factor for heart disease and death. Overall, 1 in 3 US adults has HTN. Awareness of, treatment for, and control of HTN is not optimal, with only about 50% achieving blood pressure (BP) control. Those of ethnic/racial, rural, socioeconomically disadvantaged and other medically underserved populations are known to have the worst BP control. As a result, coronary heart disease mortality is highest amongst these underserved populations. While there are known differences in pathophysiology of HTN comparing some race groups, these differences do not account for all of the variability in HTN outcomes among underserved populations. Florida has a growing, racially diverse, elderly population and therefore, improving our understanding of the reasons underlying the variability and identifying ways to improve HTN control amongst these disadvantaged populations is imperative. The overarching goal of our HERI proposal is to build a research infrastructure whereby the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, and the community based organization WellFlorida will work together to enable the investigation of processes and tools to diminish the existing disparity in HTN care and BP control. This grant will facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and build the infrastructure necessary to improve HTN outcomes in underserved populations over the long term. We propose using the unique MyHealthStory, a secure health information exchange with longitudinal patient health records within many rural health clinics in Florida, and will recruit HTN patients to participate in our project. By building a research infrastructure within MyHealthStory, we administer surveys, collect data, as well as convene multiple in-person stakeholder meetings to identify concerns and barriers about HTN care at the individual patient level, as well as assess utility of novel approaches for monitoring BP, medication delivery and the best way to deliver feedback regarding BP control. Results from these stakeholder meetings and surveys will be used directly to inform the development of a large community based implementation research project designed to improve HTN awareness, treatment and control in rural communities within Florida.