MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University School of Pharmacy is one of only two schools nationwide to receive $1.5 million over the next three years to continue studies of the state’s health disparities. The grant involves faculty collaboration from all four health professions schools at WVU: pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and medicine.
Health disparities are inequalities in the prevalence of disease, health outcomes or access to care when comparing one population to another.
“Critical healthcare disparities exist in the state of West Virginia,” S. Suresh Madhavan, Ph.D., chair of the WVU School of Pharmacy Department of Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy, said. “West Virginians are afflicted with many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. High smoking, obesity and low physical activity rates add to the problem.”
The grant comes from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Because the state has such high mortality rates and disease prevalence, the West Virginia Collaborative Health Outcomes Research of Therapies and Services (WV CoHORTS) Center (http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/wvcohorts) was established in 2006, Dr. Madhavan said.
“Our vision is to be recognized nationally for excellence in producing high-quality research in health services and health outcomes that will focus on addressing healthcare problems specific to the citizens of West Virginia and the Appalachian region,” Madhavan said.
Under Madhavan’s direction, the team of scientists at the WV CoHORTS Center will:
- house state and federal healthcare data to help document disparities
- foster partnerships and projects that bring researchers together
- include a mentoring program for junior faculty members
- aim to achieve more federal grant funding
“The WV CoHORTS Center and WVU School of Pharmacy are excited to have received AHRQ funding,” Madhavan said. “This research will continue to provide critical information that will help design strategies to reduce health disparities and improve the overall health of our citizens.”
Madhavan is working with Pat Colsher, Ph.D., director of the West Virginia Cancer Registry, to build a Medicare-Medicaid-WV Cancer Registry. Compiling such information will help determine the burdens of breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancers in West Virginia.
The center’s other projects include helping cancer patients stop smoking and helping arthritis patients who undergo hip or knee replacements feel better with exercise.
Other faculty members involved with the WV CoHORTS Center include:
- School of Pharmacy – Steve Small, adjunct research associate professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy; Cindy Tworek, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Systems and Policy.
- School of Medicine – Anoop Shankar, M.D., associate professor, Department of Community Medicine; Rachel Abraham, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Community Medicine; Dina Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Orthopaedics; and Jame Abraham, M.D., medical director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at WVU.
“The WV CoHORTS Center will become a model for other rural and medically underserved states in the conduct of research that reduces health disparities, enhances the use of cost-effective health services and improves the quality of healthcare,” Patricia Chase, Ph.D., dean of the WVU School of Pharmacy, said. “The mission of the WVU School of Pharmacy is to improve the health and well-being of West Virginians, and the research projects being conducted through the WV CoHORTS Center will enable us to uphold our mission.”