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Texas A&M Health Science Center

Research Centers

The School of Public Health is home to many dedicated programs and Board of Regents approved research centers which serve to unify and focus the faculty's diverse research interests under key research areas such as community health development and prevention research; aging and long term care, active aging and health promotion; reproductive health; rural public health preparedness and response; rural health policy research focusing on rural and minority populations, health disparities, and health systems research; nutrition and health disparities; health organization transformation; and, ergonomics and improving worker performance, health and safety.  These programs and centers are integral in promoting, facilitating, and fostering collaborative research efforts internally and externally. We invite you to visit each of the centers listed below:

Center for Community Health Development
Southwest Rural Health Research Center
USA Center for Rural Public Health Preparedness
Center for Health Organization Transformation
The Ergonomics Center

Center for Community Health Development

PI: Kenneth McLeroy, PHD
Director: Monica Wendel, DrPH, MA, MPH
Organizational Location: HSC
Board of Regents Approval: May 26, 2005
Phone: 979/ 458-0937
Link to Center website

The Center for Community Health Development (CCHD) is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of thirty-seven national Prevention Research Centers (PRC). The CCHD was formed to establish a research, education, and experience base for improving population health status in a cost-effective manner. CCHD relies on community health development approaches because they leverage existing resources and have proven to be an effective way for communities to encourage cooperation to meet the health needs of their residents. The Center is contributing to the PRC's national research agenda of community health development and population health status improvement by focusing on rural residents, border residents, and the working poor. The Center also provides invaluable research, education, and training experience for masters and doctoral students of the SPH, the Texas A&M HSC, and the larger Texas A&M University System.

There are many common and persistent barriers to community health, including fragmented services and scarce funding. Community health development strategies, however, have proven effective in overcoming these barriers and have succeeded in building community capacity to improve citizens' health. Despite this success, additional research is needed to more fully understand and develop the strategies that are the most effective means for improving population health in a variety of contexts. With these goals in mind, the Center for Community Health Development's mission is: To work collaboratively with communities and other partners to translate, evaluate, and disseminate effective individual, organizational, community and regional strategies for addressing critical public health and health-related issues in rural and underserved populations. The Center aims to build new infrastructure, to improve existing infrastructure, and to build capacity to conduct prevention research at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, and in our larger community. CCHD intends to be a resource where community health providers, scholars, students, and community members alike can find information, strategies, and guidelines regarding disease prevention and prevention research, all with the goal of improving the health status of our population.

Southwest Rural Health Research Center

Director: Jane N. Bolin, RN JD PhD
Associate Director: Robert Ohsfeldt, PhD
Organizational Location: HSC-SPH
Board of Regents Approval: July 22, 2005
Phone: 979/ 862-4238 or 845-2387
Link to Center website

The Southwest Rural Health Research Center was established in 2000 as one of only six federally funded research centers by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. The center focuses on conducting policy relevant research on meeting the needs of special rural populations, minority populations and health disparities (including border populations), and rural systems building. Research projects have focused on chronic disease management, mental health and substance abuse services, community health workers (promotora), medical policy, quality differences in rural and urban nursing homes and assisted living centers, professional shortages, mental health and substance abuse services, and the development of Rural Healthy People 2010 and 2020-companion documents to Healthy People 2010 and 2020.

USA Center for Rural Public Health Preparedness

Director: Barbara Quiram, PhD
Organizational Location: HSC
Board of Regents Approval: May 23, 2007
Contact: 979/ 845-2387
Link to Center website

Established in July 2005, The USA Center for Rural Public Health Preparedness is one of 27 CDC funded Centers for Public health Preparedness. The CDC programs are designed to ensure public health professionals are able to respond to threats to the nation’s public health. The new USA Center at SPH is the only center with a specific rural focus and is charged with supporting and developing the skills and competencies of emergency responders in rural areas of the United States. The USA Center is one of a number of programs under the Office of Special Programs at SPH aimed at translating the school;s mission of improving the health of underserved and rural populations into practice by cultivating long term relationships with public health agencies, communities, and other universities. Specifically, the Office of Special Programs focuses on improving the rural public health infrastructure via building relationships at the local, regional, state, and national level and improving competencies in the public health workforce via training and development.

The Center for Health Organization Transformation

Director: Bita A. Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Organizational Location: HSC
Board of Regents Approval: May 22, 2009
Contact: 979/845-2387
Link to Center Website

The Texas A&M School of Public Health and the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology are university sites for a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and health system supported Center for Health Organizational Transformation (CHOT). A number of progressive health systems from Texas and the Southeast are currently participating. Other health systems may soon join.

Texas A&M HSC's expertise in health care management and IT combined with industrial engineering and IT expertise at Texas A&M's and Georgia Tech's Colleges of Engineering are at the core of research work with the health systems. The CHOT addresses implementation of information technology, Six Sigma, Toyota's LEAN, Studer's Hardwiring Excellence, cultural change, quality and safety, chronic disease management, and possibly other evidence-based management and/or major clinical change initiatives. The universities' research faculty and graduate students team with health system professionals to pursue research projects selected each year by the CHOT health system members who serve as the health transformation leaders on the CHOT advisory board.

The Ergonomics Center

Director: Mark E. Benden, CPE, Ph.D.
Organizational Location: HSC
Board of Regents Approval: February 2012
Contact: 979/ 862-6672
Link to Center website (forthcoming)

Ergonomics is defined as the study of work to prevent and control injury/illness while improving productivity, quality, marketing, customer service, delivery and reducing turnover and costs. This is a critical public health focus area because approximately 60% of industry and healthcare injury/illness’s are ergonomic related. Compounding the problem is the workforce is less fit and physically capable than in prior decades contributing to higher healthcare costs for employers, employees, and health care providers. Despite the growing demand for ergonomic expertise, industry and healthcare are experiencing acute shortages of qualified Occupational Safety and Health Professionals. The purpose of the Ergonomics Center is to improve worker performance, safety, and health through three primary focal areas: Education and rigorous training of the next generation of masters and doctoral level ergonomics professionals; Research focusing on health and safety with an emphasis on obesity and aging related issues, ergonomic evaluation with a focus on innovative and dynamic workstation and classroom designs, and commercialization and translational research; and Outreach to industry and community through training and professional development.


Last edited by: llhutchison 06/04/2014

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