Lovell's Food for Thought - The HDEART Consortium, The Legacy of the CRMH Continues

Dr. Lovell Jones | 9/5/2016, 11:59 p.m.
Over the past 15 years, the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training (HDEART) Consortium has been hosting the Disparities ...
Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training (HDEART) Consortium

In the Spring of 2002 the Congressionally mandated Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH) at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center brought together faculty from the University of Houston, the University of Texas School of Public Health, Prairie View A & M University, Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Texas Southern University to discuss the formation of a Health Disparities Consortium Program; later named the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training (HDEART) Consortium. The intent of HDEART of this meeting was to develop a program that would look at the strengths and weaknesses of each respective institutions in addressing health disparities. With health disparities becoming a major area of interest, both in terms of research, but also in terms of developing educational and service programs, it was our opinion that the creation of a Consortium, based on the strengths of each, creating a joint effort would be better than each institution trying to create separate entities on their own to address health inequities. The foundation of such was based on the same institutions coming together to support the Texas Program for Society and Health to focus on health policy as a unit. However, what made this effort special and unique was the addition of Prairie View A & M University (PVAMU) and Texas Southern University (TSU); two Historically Black Universities in Houston, both with health programs (TSU with a College of Pharmacy and PVAMU with a College of Nursing).

After several meetings, it was decided to initially focus on an educational program, developing a biopsychosocial course in health disparities. So in the Fall of 2002, HDEART successfully launched its inaugural anchor course: Disparities in Health in America: Working Toward Social Justice on the campus of the University of Houston Central Campus with twenty-six (26) students (21 undergraduates and five graduate students). Because of the rapid growth of HDEART institutions outside of Houston in 2002/2003, it was decided to not only host a Fall course, but a Summer workshop that would not only offer academic credit, but continuing education credit as well. The Health Disparities Workshop was first hosted during the summer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center with attendees from member institutions, including both undergraduate and graduate students.

Based on the initial decision of the founding institutions, it was also decided that the anchor course would, in subsequent years, rotate among three institutions in Houston, including Rice University (Fall 2003) and Texas Southern University (Fall 2004). In the Fall 2005, the course started its second rotation by returning to the University of Houston. This time the course had 81 students (69 undergraduates and 12 graduates, with the course being teleconferenced to five member institutions outside of Metropolitan Houston. This brought the total number of students taking the course to over 120. In the Fall 2006, the course returned to Rice University and was teleconferenced again to member institutions. In 2007, returned to the Texas Southern University campus, with Rice University again attending. I mentioned, this because in 2004, it was the first time Rice University students took a course on the TSU campus.