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Global Institute for Hispanic Health awards inaugural seed grants

Inaugural seed grant funding awarded to four teams

Today, the Texas A&M and Driscoll Children’s Hospital Global Institute for Hispanic Health (GIHH) awarded grant funding to four research teams in its inaugural Clinical Research Seed Grant program. The program provides research seed funding for clinical, translational and health services research projects primarily aimed at eliminating health care disparities in Hispanic communities.

Established in 2016, GIHH—a joint effort between Texas A&M University Health Science Center and Driscoll Children’s Hospital (DCH)—advances the health of the Hispanic community, ensuring the needs of this population are addressed when developing new drugs and life-saving therapies. The Clinical Research Seed Grant program is the first major initiative of GIHH, which seeks to foster collaboration between the partnering entities.

“We decided to begin the collaboration by offering seed grants that focus on priority areas in South Texas: diabetes, obesity, asthma, and infectious diseases and kidney disease,” said Jaime Fergie, MD, medical director of the Global Institute for Hispanic Health. “I have noticed great enthusiasm on both sides and everyone is happy to move forward. The significant number of groups applying for these grants is in and of itself a good thing.”

All funded research teams are composed of clinicians and scientists from both The Texas A&M University System, and DCH or Driscoll Health Plan and were selected based upon scientific merit and their respective project’s relevance to the institute’s goals. Research projects that leverage the Texas A&M Healthy South Texas platform or the Driscoll Health Plan data were encouraged.

Research groups and projects receiving inaugural funding are: 

Prenatal Genetic Testing: Effect of Health Literacy in Hispanic Women

  • Robin Page, PhD, RN (Texas A&M College of Nursing)
  • Ryan Loftin, MD (Driscoll Children’s Hospital – Maternal Fetal Medicine)
  • Lei-Shih Chen, PhD, PT, CHES (Texas A&M Health and Kinesiology)
  • Christina Murphey, MSN, PhD (Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi – Nursing)

Hospital Asthma Discharges and its Relation with Hazardous Air Pollutant

  • Genny Carrillo, MD, ScD (Texas A&M School of Public Health)
  • Jon Roberts, MD (Driscoll Children’s Hospital – Pulmonology)
  • Xiaohui Xu, PhD (Texas A&M School of Public Health)

Effect of an Asthma-related Educational Intervention Targeting Pharmacies in the Driscoll Health Plan Texas CHIP/Medicaid Network in the Provision of Pharmaceutical Care Incentive Programs for Asthma and Patients’ Outcomes

  • Jose J. Hernandez, RPh, MPH, MS, PhD (Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy)
  • Lisa Sprenger, PharmD, BCPS (Driscoll Children Hospital-Health Plan)
  • Joy P. Alonzo, RPH, M. Engineering, PharmD (Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy)
  • Lixian Zhong, PhD (Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy)
  • T.R. (Toby) Garcia, MD, MBA, RPh (Driscoll Health Plan)

Development of Biomarkers for Obesity-Associated Mental Health

  • Narendra Kumar, PhD (Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy)
  • Patrick Langham Gleason, MD (Driscoll Children’s Hospital – Neurosurgery)

“Historically, the Hispanic population has been underrepresented in clinical trials in the United States, which limits how much we know about the safety and efficacy of interventions to prevent or treat illnesses for a large proportion of the population,” said Eric Hamon, interim president and chief executive officer of Driscoll Health System.

The GIHH aims to improve access to existing clinical trials, making results more scientifically valid and applicable to the population they are intended to represent. Through the seed grant funding, the GIHH is also promoting original research to address significant health disparities that exist in the South Texas region.

“The collaborative work done by our researchers and the team at Driscoll Children’s Hospital will improve the health of South Texas as a community and directly impact individuals confronted by these unique health issues,” said Carrie Byington, MD, vice chancellor for health services at The Texas A&M University System, senior vice president of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center and dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine.

To find out more about GIHH, visit

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