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SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Brooklyn Health Disparities Center
Moro O. Salifu, MD, MBA, MPH, FACP
Ruth Brown, ScD, MPH
The Brooklyn Health Disparities Center is a partnership between SUNY Downstate Medical Center, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, and the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President. This is a unique community, academic government partnership that promises to eliminate health disparities by bringing the assets of new and diverse partners to a strategic table focused on solutions. The overarching goal of the center is to eradicate health disparities plaguing minority communities in Brooklyn, New York.
The center is ideally located to tackle health problems that disproportionately affect minorities and new immigrants throughout Brooklyn. We, at the center, affectionately refer to Brooklyn as the "mecca" of minority research, given the vast difference in ethnicities and cultures that define its neighborhoods. With an estimated 2.2 million residents, Brooklyn makes up the largest county in New York State. According to the most recent U.S. Census data, over 50% of Brooklyn residents are from minority groups.
Consistent with the goals of Healthy People 2020, the center has focused its research and outreach efforts on reducing the prevalence of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and type 2 diabetes; providing greater access to health care; and ultimately increasing overall quality of life and decreasing mortality risk.
Since its inception, the center has forged strong collaborations with academic institutions and community-based organizations in Brooklyn. We have conducted several research projects that have resulted in community-based approaches to reduce health disparities and to promote healthy lifestyles among Brooklyn's minorities. By hosting forums for the community to learn more about the social determinants of health and their impact on health disparities in Brooklyn, the center shares resources with residents, medical professionals, researchers, and policy makers. The center has also been engaged in training programs geared towards minority youth, medical students, doctors in training, junior clinicians and scientists in their pursuit of independent health research careers.
The Brooklyn Health Disparities Center uses a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach to eliminating health disparities. Partnership is a critical component of the research, interventions, trainings, and policy/advocacy initiatives developed by the center, which strengthens this unique borough-wide resource.