Alfred Abuhamad and Javaune Adams-Gaston

The new EVMS-NSU Research and Training Incubator for Collaboration in Health Equity Initiative (ENRICHe) continues to address regional healthcare disparities while attracting more minority students to healthcare fields. As part of its efforts, the program is creating opportunities for collaborative research at both schools, and EVMS is proud to congratulate two recent grant recipients. 

Tetsuya Kawakita, MD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has been awarded a two-year grant for $50,000 for his project, a prospective matched cohort study of 280 individuals, titled “Association Between Preterm Birth and Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status.”

“Preterm birth is a common and significant pregnancy complication,” says Dr. Kawakita. “It disproportionally affects non-Hispanic Black individuals. Some studies suggest that social determinants of health can explain the large part of racial disparity. Our goal of the study is to examine the association between preterm birth and neighborhood factors such as food desert, walkability index and housing stability.”

Ellen Pudney, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, has also been awarded a two-year grant for $50,000 for her project, titled “Development of a Trauma-Informed Community-Engaged Physical Activity Intervention for Youth Experiencing Body Weight Stigma.”

“It is estimated that as many as 73% of youth with higher body weight have experienced weight-based bullying in physical activity settings, and this can lead to kids avoiding sports, gym class, etc.,” says Dr. Pudney. “In collaboration with researchers at Norfolk State University, we aim to connect directly with local youth to better understand weight-based bullying and stigma in the context of physical activity. Using a trauma-informed approach, we will work with the youth to co-create an intervention to support physical activity in a way that honors emotional safety.”

The ENRICHe program launched in January 2023 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Javaune Adams-Gaston, PhD, President of NSU, and Alfred Abuhamad, MD, President, Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine at EVMS.  

The overall goal of ENRICHe is to enhance research focused on health disparities, advance health equity and improve pathways to health professions careers for NSU students.

“Only about 8 percent of Virginia’s roughly 22,800 active physicians identify as African American,” says Dr. Abuhamad. “That’s one of the reasons that our longstanding partnership with NSU is so important to EVMS. I am very proud of our track record in this area, and I’m confident the ENRICHe program will make a lasting and meaningful impact in its core focus areas.” 

During the signing event, the presidents announced a shared commitment to provide a total of $500,000 to the new venture, with $250,000 from EVMS and $250,000 from NSU. The funds are being invested as seed grants to support research on health disparities conducted by faculty and students at both institutions.

Read more about the ENRICHe program.