BLAISER Lectures, Program Aim at Orienting Students toward Careers in Biomedical Research

collage of images from the University of Arizona BLAISER ProgramUPDATE — Several University of Arizona Health Sciences lectures this summer on diabetes, precision medicine, clinical research disparities and building healthy communities highlight inequalities in health care with an eye toward encouraging students from underrepresented communities interested in biomedical professions to not only pursue their dream but offering a leg up in the process.

This is the BLAISER Minority Health Disparities Lecture Series that supports the Border Latino and American Indian Summer Exposure to Research (BLAISER) Program, which offers undergraduates and graduates students an opportunity to learn about health care research and potential pathways to careers of their own. It operates through the UA Health Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion and is run by Jorge Gomez, MD, PhD, associate director of the UAHS Center for Border Health Disparities.

“We have 20 students this year,” said Viridiana Johnson, a recruitment specialist and program coordinator with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. “One student comes from Castle Rock, Colo., and another from Brookline, Mass. We also have students from across the state of Arizona (Tucson, Douglas, Mesa, Glendale and Gila Bend).”

Many topics in the lecture series, which runs through late July, are of interest to faculty and staff in the UA Department of Medicine. Among the speakers is Kenneth Ramos, MD, PhD, PharmB, who has a slew of titles (see below) including formerly interim dean for the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix but whose academic home is the UA Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. Each lecture is held in Drachman Hall, Room A114.

Here’s a full list of the lectures in reverse chronological order along with video links to several:

  • Aug. 1, 2-3 p.m. — "Exploring New Opportunities for Relief of Chronic Pain"Rajesh Khanna, PhD, professor of anesthesiology, pharmacology and neuroscience graduate interdisciplinary program (GIDP), and chair, MD/PhD Program, UA College of Medicine – Tucson (NOTE: added to schedule June 20)
    Watch the VIDEO!
  • July 20, 2-3 p.m. — “Reclaiming Indigenous Wellbeing: Health and Healthcare for Native Americans”Stephanie Rainie, DrPH, MPH, assistant professor, public health policy and management, Community, Environment and Policy Department, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health (MEZCOPH); assistant research professor, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy (UC); associate director and manager – Tribal Health Program for the Native Nations Institute in the UC; and assistant director for the Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research at MEZCOPH
    Watch the VIDEO!
  • July 17, 3-4 p.m. — “What is the Public Health Narrative for American Indians?” — Agnes Attakai, MPA, director, health disparities outreach and prevention education, Center for Rural Health, MEZCOPH. A Diné (Navajo) Nation member, she has served in a number of roles developing and coordinating training and education programs for a variety of rural underserved populations in Arizona. In April, she was presented with the Rosemary McKenzie Legacy Award from the National Rural Health Association for her work to improve the health of Native Americans in rural Arizona.
    Watch the VIDEO!
  • July 16, noon-1 p.m. — "A Disparities Perspective on the Opioid Crisis in Pima County" — Francisco Garcia, MD, MPH, Professor Emeritus, family and child health, Distinguished Outreach Professor of public health, obstetrics & gynecology, Mexican American studies and clinical pharmacy at the University of Arizona, and director and chief medical officer, Pima County Health Department
    Watch the VIDEO!
  • July 10, 1-2 p.m. — “Addressing Cancer Health Disparities”Heidi Hamman, PhD, associate professor of psychology, and family and community medicine, and a member, UA Cancer Center
    Watch the VIDEO!
  • July 9, 1-2 p.m. — “Mental Health Along the US/Mexico Border”Francisco Moreno, MD, professor of psychiatry, UA College of Medicine – Tucson, and associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, UA Health Sciences
    Watch the VIDEO!
  • June 15, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. — “Clinical Research Disparities”Anna Teresa Valencia, senior director of clinical research operations, UA College of Medicine – Phoenix
    Watch the VIDEO!
  • June 12, 1-2 p.m. — “Addressing Diabetes Disparities in Hispanic Populations”David Marrero, PhD, professor, MEZCOPH, and director, UAHS Center for Border Health Disparities
    Watch the VIDEO!
  • June 7, 1-2 p.m. — “Repetitive DNA Sequences in Health and Disease: Gift Wrappings for Precision Medicine”Kenneth Ramos, MD, PhD, PharmB, professor of medicine and director, MD-PhD Program, UA College of Medicine – Tucson; director, Center for Applied Genetics and Genomic Medicine, and associate vice president, precision health sciences, UA Health Sciences; and an elected member, National Academy of Medicine
    Watch the VIDEO!  
  • June 6, 1-2 p.m. — “Building Healthy Communities in the Arizona-Sonora Border Region: Today’s Strengths and Challenges” Jill G. de Zapien, associate dean for community programs and affiliate, Health Promotion Sciences Department and Center for Rural Health, MEZCOPH
  • June 4, 9-10 a.m. — “Minority Health Disparities Lecture Series” Jorge Gomez, MD, PhD, assistant professor of public health and pharmacology; associate director, UAHS Center for Border Health Disparities; assistant director, Cancer Outreach, UA Cancer Center; assistant vice president, translational research in special populations, UA Health Sciences

In addition to BLAISER Program participants, students in the UA FRONTERA (Focusing Research on the Border Area) Summer Internship Program also were able to attend the above lectures. The internships provide undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to prepare for medical school, hands-on research experience, and an increased understanding of public health disparities in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

About the BLAISER Program
Led by the University of Arizona Health Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the BLAISER is strongly committed to attract students that represent the diverse population to biomedical research, expose them and make them sensitive to the health disparities in Southern of Arizona and the border region. This cutting-edge 10-week, undergraduate research experience provides an extraordinary laboratory training opportunity, pairing junior and senior level student-scholars with preeminent UA Health Sciences researchers. This is a premier research experience for undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds arming them with skills to make them competitive and successful in their pursuit of post-secondary education and research.

This annual summer program was created in 2015 to address health disparities in Arizona’s ethnically diverse and fast-growing communities. The inaugural class consisted of 15 students. In 2017 and 2018, 20 students participated. A maximum of 25 students will be accepted annually. This year's program runs from June 4 to Aug. 7, 2018. Participants gain an extraordinary opportunity to immerse themselves on campus at the University of Arizona Health Sciences and position themselves well for the future. Learn more here:

ORIGINAL POST DATE: June 15, 2018 | 9:15 a.m.

Release Date: 
07/16/2018 - 8:00am