Campus: San Diego State University -- September 20, 2004
SDSU, UCSD Researchers Start Five-Year Partnership With San Ysidro
Community to Study Latino Health Issues
$3.4 Million, CDC-Funded Project to Look at Ways to
Promote Physical Activity
Researchers from San Diego State University and the University of California,
San Diego, in collaboration with the San Ysidro Health Center, will receive $3.4
million from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the
next five years to establish the San Diego Prevention Research Center. The center
will study how to promote increased physical activity among Latinos in order to
prevent diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases that afflict that group,
especially recent immigrants and their families.
The researchers will collect data related to physical activity via surveys and
other tools, and later test programs designed to increase the amount of exercise
Latinos incorporate into their lives. The project is being led by principal
investigator John Elder, Ph.D, professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences
in SDSU's Graduate School of Public Health. Co-principal investigators for the
project are Barbara E. Ainsworth, Ph.D., MPH, professor of Exercise and Nutritional
Sciences at SDSU; and Kevin Patrick, MD, professor of Preventive Medicine in
UCSD's School of Medicine. They and other faculty from both universities will
collaborate with staff from the San Ysidro Health Center on the project.
Elder said the San Diego Prevention Research Center is especially important because
its focus on recent immigrants addresses a rapidly expanding - yet traditionally
under-researched and underserved - element of the local and U.S. population.
"When Mexican or other Latino immigrants come to the United States, we've observed
that often one of the first things to go as they make their transition to living
here is an active lifestyle," Elder said. "That puts this particular group at
increased risk for the onset of these chronic diseases. We need to find ways to
keep that from happening both to enhance the health of this group and to reduce
strain on our overburdened health care system."
Starting this month, the center's researchers will examine potential barriers to
physical activity, such as time constraints caused by job pressures; environmental
factors such as access to parks, recreational facilities and youth sports leagues;
and cultural forces.
"Once we identify the most significant factors that negatively affect physical
activity, we'll begin to target programs an intervention strategies that will
address those factors," Elder said.
The project's funding comes from the CDC's Prevention Research Center (PRC) program.
The PRC Program is a network of 28 academic centers, public health agencies, and
community partners conducting applied research and practice in chronic disease
prevention and control. The research strives to develop disadvantaged communities'
long-term capacity for addressing their health issues and some of the socioeconomic
factors associated with those issues.
Patrick, Patrick, from the Division of Family and Preventive Medicine within UCSD's
School of Medicine, said PRC status is very prestigious in public health circles
because it means the CDC has recognized the recipients as national leaders in
addressing a particular health issue. Institutions applying for PRC funding undergo
a rigorous and very competitive peer review process and have to meet stringent
programmatic and facility criteria.
"For years SDSU and UCSD have been very active in working with the community to
address immigrant health issues, and so has the San Ysidro Health Center," Patrick
said, adding that the San Diego PRC is the only such center in the country to
partner two universities. "By combining our resources, experience and expertise,
we made a strong impression on the CDC that we are well-prepared to tackle this
complex problem and come up with solutions that will make an impact here and
For more information on the San Diego Prevention Research Center, contact Amelia
Arroyo at (619) 594-2395.
Since its founding in 1959, UCSD has rapidly risen to its status as one of the
nation's premier institutes for higher education and research exploration, ranking
fourth in the nation in research impact in a report compiled by the Institute for
Scientific Information. The UCSD School of Medicine is one of the nation's
top-ranked academic institutions devoted to medical research, education, and health
care services. Based on faculty research cited in prestigious journals, the
School of Medicine ranks first in the country in federal dollars expended for
research per faculty member and first nationally for research funding from the
National Institute of Health to the medical school's Division of Family and
Prevention Medicine. UCSD physicians account for 24 of the 29 San Diegans selected
for "America's Top Doctors," and in a recent "San Diego's Best Doctors" listing,
more than 80 are UCSD physicians - one-third of all those listed.
Jason Foster, SDSU Marketing & Communications, (619) 594-2585,
Sue Pondrom, UCSD Health Sciences Communications, (619) 543-6163,