University of Nebraska Medical Center

Four public health projects receive dean’s grants

by Elizabeth Kumru, UNMC public relations

Four public health projects received start-up money from the Mutual Fund, a new program created in the UNMC College of Public Health with funding from Dean Ayman El-Mohandes, M.B.B.Ch., M.D., M.P.H.

The $10,000, one-year grants are designed to stimulate collaboration between College of Public Health faculty and community partners to address existing and emerging public health concerns.

“These start-up funds encourage meaningful and mutually beneficial initiatives to advance community health and well-being through trustworthy relationships between academia and the community. By leveraging these limited resources, people from Omaha and around the world will receive the greatest impact,” Dr. El-Mohandes said.

Magda Peck, Sc.D., associate dean for community engagement and public health practice, College of Public Health, is administering the grants.

“The four projects selected by the dean, following a review process, reflect a diverse portfolio of joint campus-community initiatives. We hope the relationships forged through Mutual Fund projects will become a foundation for future collaborations to find solutions to pressing health concerns,” Dr. Peck said.

The four projects are:

  • SWAG:  Students with Aspirations and Goals

Renaisa Anthony, M.D., and Melissa Tibbits, Ph.D., UNMC, and Marya Shegog, Ph.D., of Hampton University, Va.

A community based approach will be used to identify and address the most important public health issues at Hampton University. The project is a collaboration between UNMC, Hampton University (a historically black college/university) and the Nebraska-Virginia Alliance.

  • Building a Healthy Community for Active Aging

Joseph Siu, Ph.D., UNMC, and Carolina Padilla, director of the Intercultural Community Senior Center in Omaha.

A unique hybrid of Tai Chi that combines traditional movement with muscle strengthening exercises will be developed in the Intercultural Senior Center in South Omaha for Hispanic seniors. Called HyChi, researchers will measure how the exercise improves function among Hispanic seniors.

  • Metro Area Homeless Data System Enhancement

Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, Ph.D., UNMC, and Erin Porterfield, executive director of the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH).

To combat the long-standing and complex problem of homelessness, this study will investigate ways to use community resources more effectively. In collaboration with the more than 100 members of MACCH, UNMC will evaluate the system, study ways to implement data sharing and examine how to integrate other participating agencies and organizations, such as Veterans Affairs and the criminal justice system.

  • Building Research Capacity on the Rez

Shireen Rajaram, Ph.D., UNMC, and Carolyn Fiscus of the Little Priest Tribal College.

A three-credit hour course, Indigenous Research Methods, will be developed to train   American Indian students in research methods. The course also will expand health career options for tribal college students and increase the diversity of the health related workforce.

For more information, please contact Dr. Magda Peck, Associate Dean for Community Engagement and Public Health Practice in the College of Public Health at (402)559-5266 or mpeck@unmc.edu.

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