The Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research in Underserved Populations (CHPR) was one of 10 core centers funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) with two consecutive P30 Centers of Excellence grant awards (1999-2011). Dr. Sharon Brown, professor emeritus, was the first Director of CHPR (1999-2001) and was succeeded by Dr. Alexa Stuifbergen (2001-2011). The CHPR sought to improve the health of underserved people through the development and facilitation of effective interdisciplinary research in health promotion and disease prevention intervention methodology.
During the 10 years (1999-2011) of NINR support, the CHPR funded 36 pilot studies that included more than 1,400 participants from a wide variety of underserved populations. The CHPR provided mentoring and training to build the science of health promotion in underserved populations through more than 80 invited colloquia; 9 annual conferences with more than 1500 attendees; undergraduate, graduate, and faculty fellowships; and summer research institutes provided to more than 134 investigators (40% were minority scientists) from 34 institutions (including 9 minority-serving institutions) representing 14 different disciplines.
Dissemination of findings from these innovative training and research programs included more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, traditional research conferences for researchers and clinicians, four health promotion collaboratories for researchers, and publication of a series of peer-reviewed supplements to an interdisciplinary journal. The CHPR has fostered a collaborative interdisciplinary environment and significant contributions to the science of promoting the health of underserved populations. Over 65% of the CHPR pilot investigators have obtained significant subsequent federal funding to continue their programs of research.
As the CHPR was completing its work, Dr. Alexa Stuifbergen began meeting with the St. David’s Foundation to discuss CHPR and ways to sustain the CHPR as a permanent research resource for UT Austin and its surrounding communities. In August of 2011, the St. David’s Foundation made a $3 million gift to the School of Nursing to create a permanent endowment to support the Center as an epicenter of health disparity research in the community. In recognition of this gift, the Center was renamed the St. David’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research in Underserved Populations (St. David’s CHPR).
The mission of the center is to improve the health of underserved people through applied research, thereby sustaining a primary aim of the previously NINR-funded P30 center. Dr. Lorraine Walker, professor, was named the first Director of St. David’s CHPR (2011-2015). Dr. Walker was succeeded by Dr. Sharon Horner who is the current Director (2015- ).
The Center plays a vital role in supporting research and training to improve the health of underserved populations in Texas. By geographic size and population density, Texas is the second largest state in the US with a highly diverse population (est. 27 million) composed of 38.8% Hispanics, 43% non-Hispanic whites (white), 12.5% African Americans, 4.7% Asians, and 0.1% American Indians and Alaska Natives (Texas State Census, 2015). Furthermore, the age distribution in Texas is bimodal with two demographic peaks: Texas is the third most populous state with older adults (65+ years) and it is also among the youngest states, ranking eighth on the list of states with the highest percentages of young adults and children (Aging in Texas, 2016). White residents make up 70% of the over 65 population, whereas the under 18 population is nearly 50% Hispanic. There is a great need to focus on health promotion and disease prevention efforts among underserved populations in our communities to meet the goals of Healthy People 2020.