UTEP Receives NIH Grant to Build Institutional Culture and Address Health Equity
The University of Texas at El Paso has begun implementation of a new institutional-level effort to address Hispanic health disparities and create a pipeline of faculty who represent a full range of talent in biomedical research. The work is supported by a new $15.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program.
The multidisciplinary team leading the project includes John Wiebe, Ph.D., UTEP provost and vice president for academic affairs, Ann Gates, Ph.D., senior advisor to the provost for strategic STEM initiatives; Michael Kenney, Ph.D., associate dean and professor in the College of Science; Laura O'Dell, Ph.D., associate vice president for research and professor of psychology; Thenral Mangadu, Ph.D., associate vice president for interdisciplinary research and associate professor of public health; Guadalupe Corral, Ph.D., director of research, evaluation and assessment services; Deana Pennington, Ph.D., vice provost for faculty affairs; and Tami Keating, J.D., assistant vice provost for faculty affairs.
“Understanding complex health disparities involves the integration of diverse ideas and perspectives from multiple disciplines. Increasing and sustaining the diversity of scientific researchers is vital for improving the quality and impact of this interdisciplinary science,” Wiebe said. “Because our program will be heavily informed by metrics and evidence-based practices, we are confident it will advance scientific discovery in Hispanic health disparities research and further promote an environment here at UTEP in which investigators from different backgrounds thrive.”
UTEP FIRST is founded on the principle that a cohort-based model of faculty hiring, coupled with a robust and deliberate culture of support, will achieve significant improvements in workforce diversity and success for biomedical investigators from underrepresented groups.
The main components of the program include the hiring of an initial group of six faculty members who have research interests in health equity, as well as the implementation of a new mentorship model that will provide professional development opportunities and other forms of support to faculty hired under the program. Faculty may be employed in any of UTEP’s eight colleges and schools, and all academic deans will work together in support of the program.
“The overarching goal of this effort is to strengthen the institutional culture at UTEP that lifts up early-career biomedical faculty from various backgrounds,” Wiebe said. “We aim to make UTEP a national leader in diversifying the workforce in this critical field and a model of systemic change that supports inclusive excellence.”
The search for the researchers who will compose the cohort of new faculty hires will begin this fall, with the expectation that all six members of that group will be in place for the start of the Fall 2024 semester. Their participation in the program’s comprehensive mentorship and support modules will begin upon their arrival to the University.
UTEP FIRST is funded by the NIH Common Fund through grant number U54CA280922.
Last Updated on July 07, 2023 at 12:00 AM | Originally published July 07, 2023
By UTEP Marketing and Communications