Nursing School’s El Centro Renewed

May 14, 2012 — Coral Gables — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a $7.6 million grant to the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS) over the next five years for their Center of Excellence for Health Disparities Research: El Centro.

“This award recognizes the accomplishments of this vital project known as El Centro during our first five years and will allow us to continue to build a program that serves our university, community, and society in advancing the science of eliminating health disparities,” said Nilda (Nena) P. Peragallo Montano, DrPH, RN, FAAN, Dean and Professor, UM School of Nursing and Health Studies.

The El Centro renewal grant funds two randomized trials that will test evidence-based interventions in real-world community settings. With the renewal of funding, El Centro will continue to research intervention and prevention of HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections and violence . The SEPA (Salud, Educacion, Prevencion y Autocuidado or Health, Education, Prevention and Self-Care), study is specifically designed for Hispanic women, with an awareness and sensitivity to traditional gender roles that influence how women relate to sexual partners and their comfort level in discussing sexual topics.

“The renewed funding for El Centro provides the Miami-Dade County Health Department with additional opportunities to collaborate in this important endeavor. The interventions being tested and adapted at El Centro are crucial to the improvement of the health outcomes of minority groups in our community," stated Lillian Rivera, RN, MSN, PhD, Administrator, Miami-Dade County Health Department.

Additionally, the Structural Ecosystems Therapy (SET) -Recovery study will adapt and test a family intervention to prevent relapse in mothers who have recently completed substance abuse treatment, and to improve the health of the mothers and their children. Results have already shown an improvement in the health of HIV+ mothers in substance abuse recovery and their children. The new study will test SET in partnership with Banyan Health Systems as part of their substance abuse aftercare program.

El Centro was established through NIH funding in September 2007, and this renewal grant ensures that the research continues through 2017. El Centro develops culturally tailored prevention and treatment interventions for a variety of health conditions that disproportionately affect minority groups: HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, and associated mental and physical health conditions. Although originally established to focus on Hispanics, recently El Centro’s reach expanded to other groups also affected by these health disparities including Blacks (African Americans and Caribbean Americans) and other minorities. El Centro also collaborates with institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean region to address health disparities in those countries.

In addition to the two studies, the grant provides funding for three cores to facilitate research, training and community-academic alliances led by the following: Nena Peragallo Montano, director, administration; Victoria Mitrani, director, research; Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda and Guerda Nicolas, co-directors Research Education and Training Core, and Daniel Santisteban, director, Community Engagement, Dissemination and Implementation Core. The Core Directors and representatives from the two partnering community agencies serve as El Centro’s Steering Committee. An interdisciplinary and dedicated group of distinguished scientists from UM and other institutions serve as El Centro’s Scientific Advisory Board.


About the School of Nursing and Health Studies
Established in 1948 as South Florida’s first collegiate nursing program, the School of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Miami has a distinguished tradition of preparing nurses to provide compassionate, quality care to local, national and international communities. Nursing students at the undergraduate and graduate levels are educated by renowned scholars and exposed to a broad range of clinical experiences and cutting-edge research. In February 2005, the School expanded its program offerings to include the University of Miami’s Health Science program and changed its name to the School of Nursing and Health Studies. The expanded curriculum includes programs leading to the BSN, MSN, PhD, and DNP degrees as well as the BS in Health Science degree. A new bachelor’s in Public Health begins Fall 2012.

About the University of Miami
The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world.

Media Contact:
Alexandra Bassil
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