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UNT Health Science Center to lead state effort to raise awareness about COVID-19 in underserved communities

23 Sep 2020 8:19 AM | Stacy Hollingsworth (Administrator)

The University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC) at Fort Worth will administer the Texas portion of a $12 million National Institutes of Health award for outreach and engagement efforts in ethnic and racial minority communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Several Texas counties, including Tarrant, are among high-priority regions that will receive special focus. The project connects communities with accurate public health information and informs communities about clinical research and vaccine trials.

The Texas Community Engagement Alliance Consortium will be administered through HSC and led by Dr. Jamboor K. Vishwanatha.

“HSC is committed to leading the way in creating solutions to address health disparities that affect members of underrepresented and diverse communities,” HSC President Dr. Michael Williams said. “COVID-19’s disproportionate impact has shined a bright light on the need for more partnerships and resources to solve these disparities.”

Other high-priority areas in Texas include Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Hidalgo counties.

“The Texas Community Engagement Alliance Team has brought together academic partners and multiple community partners with whom trusted relations have been built over many years,” Vishwanatha said. “With this statewide effort, we hope to provide science-based information to overcome the misinformation and mistrust in our communities regarding the clinical and vaccine trials, and to increase participation of ethnic and racial minority communities in Texas in these trials.”

The Community Engagement Alliance research teams will focus on COVID-19 awareness and education research, especially among African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos and American Indians — populations that account for over half of all reported cases in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“With strong interest and commitment from academic and community partners, the Texas CEAL team came together rather quickly to address the urgent national need to diversify the clinical trial participation in development of COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines,” Vishwanatha said.


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