The Nursing Division at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) was awarded a grant (#1 P20MD 002286) from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) which established the Caribbean Exploratory NIMHD Research Center for Excellence, hereafter referred to as the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center (CERC).
The specific aims of the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center are to:
A very sparse literature suggests that residents of the U. S. Virgin Islands are burdened with the same health disparities identified in health disparity populations on the U. S. mainland. Few studies have described factors that might be associated with reported prevalence rates for health disparities in the territory.
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The planning and implementation for the CERC is achieved through four Cores. Each Core has a University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) faculty member as director who is partnered with one or more faculty or community members as co-directors. The co-directors are consultants and/or mentors, providing advice and support based on their breadth of experience with Exploratory Research Centers and/or as faculty members, or community leaders in the medical and scientific fields.
The Administrative Core uses a collaborative administrative model as an approach to effective functioning for the Exploratory Research Center. The specific aim is to provide the administrative structure, coordination and resources to facilitate cohesive functioning of the Exploratory Research Center, and enhance the UVI Division of Nursing resources by developing the infrastructure to support studies of health disparities among the health disparity populations of the US Virgin Islands.
This Core has responsibility for the overall administration and coordination of the Center, Executive Committee, and a Center Advisory Committee. The Executive Committee consists the Principal Investigator, the Center Director, the four core directors, the Program Coordinator, and the Administrative Assistant. The Center Advisory Committee includes the Executive Committee along with specified UVI faculty and community partners.
The Community Engagement and Outreach Core will expand interdisciplinary community partnerships to promote community outreach, education and information dissemination, regarding specific health disparities in populations in the US Virgin Islands. The Core will develop and implement a systematic and rigorous evaluation of the outcomes of community outreach activities and document follow-up activities of participants. The Core will also increase community engagement in health promotion and outreach through support of community initiated projects.
The Research Core has stimulated research activity in diabetes, cancer, obesity and HIV/AIDS and will continue to advance research in these areas, expanding beyond pilot study investigations to full research studies. The Core will also achieve this expansion by posting Calls for Proposals within the community specifically addressing health disparities in the US Virgin Islands. The Core Director and Co-Directors will review proposals and facilitate recommendation to the Internal Review Board (IRB) for consideration for approval. This Core will support projects to advance research competence in the Territory and promote community-based studies in collaboration with the Eastern Caribbean Center (ECC), a unit within UVI.
The Research Education/Training Core is fundamental to the overall goal of providing the infrastructure for mentoring and scholarly development of UVI faculty in the Division of Nursing. This Core will also promote and support training for UVI Nursing students and community partners and collaborators, relating to specific research studies. These training activities may be on site or distance learning and will incorporate consultant and UVI instructors, and may include a Summer Research Institute, and facilitating involvement in Professional conferences and meetings.