University of Pittsburgh
Graduate School of Public Health
Center for Minority Health
Research Center of Excellence on Minority Health Disparities

Contact Information
Director
Training Site Overview
Institutional Resources
Training Site Expectations

Contact Information

Research Center of Excellence in Minority Health Disparities
Center for Minority Health
Graduate School of Public Health
218 Parran Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Ph: 412-624-3610
Fax: 412-624-5510
Director: Jessica Burke, PhD

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Director: Jessica Burke, PhD

Dr. Jessica Burke, PhD, is the Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Administration at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Burke has had several years’ experience teaching graduate-level courses that adopt an ecological approach in the exploration of health determinants and stress the importance of partnering with communities in needs assessment and intervention development processes. Her research is concentrated on the health of women and children, specifically among vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. Dr. Burke’s research adopts an ecological perspective in addressing health promotion. Her current research employs ethnographic and social epidemiologic techniques to explore the multiple levels of influencing factors associated with maternal and child health problems such as intimate partner violence, youth violence, low birth weight and preterm delivery. Dr. Burke is also interested in the design, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive interventions to address these and other important women's health problems such as HIV/AIDS. She employs a theory-driven, participant-oriented approach to exploring the mechanisms by which cultural and contextual factors influence the health status of women and children, and uses an integration of innovative qualitative and quantitative methodologies in my current research. Dr. Burke is a member of the American Public Health Association, the International Society for Urban Health, the Society for Public Health Education, and the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health. She also serves as a reviewer for the following journals: American Journal of Health Behavior, Journal of Urban Health, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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Training Site Overview

The training program for Kellogg Scholars at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health was focused on the mastery of social and behavioral science theory and practice needed to develop the necessary trust essential for engaging minority communities in public health and medical research. The Pittsburgh site was characterized by "team mentoring" where scholars were supported by a multidisciplinary team of senior faculty all focused on providing assistance for development of an NIH Mentored Research Career Development Award (K01). Scholars enrolled in the Career Education and Enhancement for Health Care Research Diversity (CEED) program, a structured, didactic career development program offered through the University of Pittsburgh'sClinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

The scholar's research statement was used to identify their initial team of mentors. Once onsite they had the opportunity to meet faculty from across the University's five schools of the health sciences and refined their research aims and adjusted the mentoring team as appropriate. Each scholar was placed in an academic home within one of the seven departments within the Graduate School of Public Health: 1) Behavioral and Community Health Sciences; 2) Human Genetics; 3) Environmental and Occupational Health; 4) Epidemiology; 5) Health Policy and Management; 6) Biostatistics; and, 7) Infectious Disease and Microbiology. Team mentoring meetings occurred twice per month and scholars met with their primary mentor weekly during the first year and bi-weekly in year two of the program. Publications based on dissertation research was an early priority for year one.

Scholars at the University of Pittsburgh were trained in community-based interventions using core Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) principles. The community demonstration site is located in the Health Empowerment Zone; a geographically defined set of neighborhoods characterized by racial segregation and concentrated poverty. Faculty and staff from the Center for Minority Health operate the Healthy Black Family Project, a health promotion and disease prevention program that has enrolled over 7,000 participants. Scholars had the opportunity to collaborate with experienced investigators who have nested their research activities within this robust community program. Priority health disparity themes included, but are not limited to:

  1. Infant Mortality
  2. Cardiovascular Disease
  3. Diabetes
  4. HIV/AIDS
  5. Cancer Screening and Management
  6. Adult and Child Immunizations
  7. Mental Health
Core Graduate School of Public Health Faculty and Mentors
The Core Faculty include, but are not limited to (Alphabetical Order):

The Research Center of Excellence on Minority Health Disparities includes faculty mentors from across the five schools of the Health Sciences including colleagues from the Pittsburgh RAND Corporation and Carnegie Mellon University. Scholars also participated in a three-day intensive course in Scientific Management and Leadership offered by the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences and the Clinical Translational and Science Institute (CTSI). Modeled on the Burroughs Wellcome Fund - Howard Hughes Medical Institute course in scientific management (www.hhmi.org/labmanagement), this course includes self-evaluation exercises and comprehensive evaluation by the scholar's team of mentors using state of the art assessment tools developed by the Center for Creative Leadership. Throughout the process, the Program Director served both as a primary mentor (as appropriate) and was responsible for monitoring the overall academic progress of each scholar.

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Other Resources

Each scholar at the University of Pittsburgh is provided with their individual office within their respective academic department and space within the Center for Minority Health. They also receive a computer, telephone, and provided access to the internet. The University ID issued to scholars provides them with access to all University facilities including libraries, fitness facilities and free public bus transportation in the city.

Opportunities for Interactions with peers

Becoming a Kellogg Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh means you will become a member of a broader community of talented postdoctoral research fellows, including the Office of Academic Career Development and our highly successful Career Education and Enhancement for Health Care Research Diversity (CEED) Program. The CEED program aims to:

  1. Jump start the careers of underrepresented minority researchers by providing them with mentoring as well as the skills and knowledge needed for successful research careers.
  2. Provide training in grant writing, making presentations, and other skills required to develop competitive career development awards.
  3. Ensure a supply of well-qualified science clinical and translational investigators in the healthcare research pipeline.

The CEED Program is designed to help address the shortage of underrepresented minorities in health sciences research careers by providing intensive early training focusing on grant writing, preparation of publications, mentoring, and development of leadership and management skills to place promising future health science investigators in a competitive position to successfully compete for early career development awards (such as K08, K12, K23, K25, VA, RWJ, and other career development awards). Kellogg Scholars at the University of Pittsburgh participate in CEED during both years of their training experience.

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Training Site Expectations

How many projects are recommended?
Our scholars work on harvesting data from the Healthy Black Family Project and other existing databases. Scholars may also learn new skills and apply existing skills within the context of our community engagement research environment. Some scholars have also decided to complete coursework leading to the MPH degree. Scholars also are given the opportunity to lecture in courses offered through the Minority Health Disparity Certificate Program.

Policy on teaching and employment
In order to maximize the postdoctoral learning experience, scholars are not expected to teach a course. However, they are encouraged to lecture in courses offered through the Minority Health Disparity Certificate Program related to their areas of research. These lectures are limited to the Minority Health Overview course taught by Dr. Thomas and the Health Disparities Research: Methods and Interventions course taught by Drs. Fryer and Garza.

Expectations of publications/grant proposals
Under the leadership of our Publications Committee Chair, Dr. Sandra Quinn, we expect scholars to co-author no less than six peer-reviewed articles working in collaboration with faculty mentors over the course of the two year training program. Scholars are not expected to submit grant proposals during their training; however, the preparation of a refined NIH K01 application is an expected scholarly product by the end of year two.

For more information about the Research Center of Excellence on Minority Health Disparities and the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh, please visit: www.cmh.pitt.edu

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