The CCRHP is partly funded by an endowment from National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). As the NIH endowed chair, my main goal in initiating CCRHP was to develop research and researchers in Puerto Rico, and to improve global health and reduce health disparities through research, public health practice, and mentoring. The research focus is on identifying novel modifiable nutritional, microbial and local and systemic inflammatory risk factors for cardiometabolic and other noncommunicable diseases (NCD) including hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, Type 2 Diabetes, and its complications including cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease. Two major NIH funded research projects completed by CCRHP are: “San Juan Overweight Adults Longitudinal Study” (SOALS) and “Pregnancy and Early Lifestyle Intervention Study” (PEARLS). SOALS evaluated the bi-directional association between periodontitis and pre-clinical diabetes, and was expanded to enable evaluation of several additional hypotheses. SOALS has resulted in five NIH funded ancillary grants to date, and has scope for several additional ancillary grants. PEARLS is a randomized controlled clinical trial of lifestyle interventions (nutrition and physical activity) during pregnancy and after delivery to improve cardiometabolic health in mothers and infants, and is a part of the LIFE-Moms consortium. Several studies are ongoing relating NCD risk factors including lipid, nitric oxide metabolism, and metabolomics. CCRHP health promotion goals focus on preventive measures that are cost-saving, free or low-cost, that can be disseminated through social media or mass communication and translated into interventions, programs and policies to improve health globally, especially of the disadvantaged. “VMove (www.vmovement.org)” was launched at a TEDx talk with the goal of changing norms globally to promote physical activity in public without needing special attire or resources to help people meet physical activity recommendations including exercise and moving more throughout the day. VMove has drawn a large diverse group of adopters and leaders, and invites you to join and help lead the movement. One ongoing NIH funded study combining research and health promotion goals is “Preparedness to Reduce Exposures and diseases Post-hurricanes & Augment Resilience” (PREPARE) which is evaluating NCD risk and resiliency factors at individual, and organizational levels in order to inform policies to improve health and preparedness. CCRHP draws faculty, students, and other collaborators and partners from different UPR schools, Harvard and other external organizations. Additional health promotion activities underway include initiatives related to safe sustainable drinking water, to reduce our plastic footprint, and to improve knowledge, preparedness and resilience for natural disasters. I have mentored numerous students and faculty at all levels across different UPR and Harvard units; many mentees have become PIs of their own NIH grants including R01 grants. CCRHP welcomes faculty and students who seek collaboration or mentoring, and volunteers for health promotion activities. Water quality funded by PRSTRT and RCMI.
Dr. K. Joshipura