Press Releases

2004 Releases

FAMU and HSPH Receive $6 Million from NIH to Help Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

For immediate release: January 12, 2004

Boston, MA - Florida A&M University, in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), has received a $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help eliminate health disparities in rural and urban communities.

The four-year grant will establish the Center for Healthy Options and Innovative Community Empowerment (CHOICE), which will capitalize on the strengths of a well-respected historically black university and an Ivy League school.

Through CHOICE, individuals in rural communities in Gadsden County, Fla. and in the urban Boston neighborhood of Roxbury will participate in this research effort to address major causes of excess mortality in minority communities.

People of color and vulnerable populations are more likely than other populations to experience high rates of disease, early death and barriers to health care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Under the direction of President Fred Gainous, Florida A&M University will be at the forefront of important research to show how we can eliminate health care disparities throughout our nation," said Cynthia Hughes Harris, Dean of FAMU's School of Allied Health and principal investigator of the grant. "We can make a difference, and we will do it through scientific and social research. What we can accomplish in rural Gadsden County and urban Roxbury, Massachusetts will serve as models for the nation."

"We are very proud of this collaboration and this opportunity for Florida A&M University to emerge as a premier center that addresses health disparities in the nation," said Fred Gainous, Florida A&M University President.

Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Professor of Public Health Practice at HSPH, will lead the effort at Harvard. "In America, we have had little success in reducing racial health disparities," she said. "We need creative interventions that are evaluated for effectiveness. CHOICE will use community-based participatory research models to design and evaluate interventions. Also, we will build the infrastructure for minority health and other health disparities research and training within both of our institutions."

Dr. Howard Koh is director of the Division of Public Health Practice at HSPH, from which the Harvard activities related to CHOICE will be directed. Both Drs. Koh and Prothrow-Stith are former Massachusetts Commissioners of Public Health. "This grant will unite multiple forces in promoting public health practice in our broader communities," said Dr. Koh.

Dr. Brian K. Gibbs, director of the Program to Eliminate Health Disparities at the Division of Public Health Practice, is the HSPH CHOICE Center director. He will be responsible for the integration of research, training, and community outreach and dissemination activities within the Center.

The CHOICE grant is from Project EXPORT: Centers of Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities and Training at the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes for Health. For more information about Project EXPORT, visit http://

For further information, please contact:
Christina Roache
Office of Communications
Harvard School of Public Health
677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617-432-6052

LaNedra Carroll
Public Affairs
Florida A&M University
Tallahassee, FL 32307
(850) 599-3413

Florida A&M University (FAMU) is a historically black university that was founded in Tallahassee, Florida in 1887. It is the third oldest institution in the State University System. More than 13,000 students are enrolled at FAMU, which offers baccalaureate degrees in more than 63 disciplines, masters degrees in 36 disciplines and Ph.D.s in pharmaceutical sciences, physics, educational leadership, environmental sciences, engineering and entomology; FAMU also has its own College of Law located in Orlando. FAMU continues to recruit the nationís best and brightest as one of the top recruiters of National Achievement Scholars. It is the No. 1 producer of the nationís black educators, pharmacists and African-Americans with baccalaureate degrees. For more information, visit: