(COLLEGE STATION, TX) – Rural and underserved regions have not been well served by traditional academic research models. This lack of service has exacerbated health disparities in these regions, as populations have not participated in or benefited from leading edge innovations in clinical care, prevention and health systems improvement.

To tackle this problem, faculty and staff from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and School of Rural Public Health are utilizing a recently awarded grant to initiate a comprehensive strategic planning process that will develop the necessary infrastructure to carry out high quality translational and clinical research in rural and underserved regions.

The one-year grant, “Enhancing Translational/Clinical Research Programs in Rural and Underserved Regions,” was funded by the National Institutes of Health for $228,371 from Sept. 1, 2006, to Aug. 31, 2007.

The planning process will focus on assessing capabilities and barriers to creating
a dedicated program for graduate and post-graduate clinical and translational science training. The training will be specifically tailored to overcoming the challenges of conducting research in underserved communities and across the rural-urban continuum.

Proposed is a series of assessment and planning activities by a faculty-research team assembled from an HSC consortium to assess the existing clinical and translational science program infrastructure and training infrastructure of the consortium itself. The team also will explore curriculum opportunities, with each consortium member focusing on the integration of clinical and translational science; design and develop a curriculum of training for the Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) degree in clinical and translational science; and develop a framework for implementing and helping trainees obtain the M.S.P.H. degree in clinical and translational science across the consortium.

Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., Jean and Thomas McMullin Dean of the HSC-COM, is principal investigator for the grant. Jane Bolin, Ph.D., J.D., R.N., assistant professor of health policy and management in the HSC-SRPH, is co-principal investigator. Several faculty and staff from both academic units will collaborate on the project.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its six components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.

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