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KPBS Midday Edition

SDSU receives $15 million to fund research on Latinx disparities

San Diego State University's campus is shown on March 27, 2020.
Zoë Meyers
San Diego State University's campus is shown on March 27, 2020.

The San Diego State University Faculty United Towards Excellence in Research and Transformational Engagement program, also known as “SDSU FUERTE,” on Wednesday announced it received a $15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to research Latinx health disparities.

The goal of the research is to have a regional, national and global impact on lowering those disparities, which include cancer, environmental health, obesity, physical activity and nutrition.

María Luisa Zúñiga, a professor at the SDSU School of Social Work and co-principal investigator of “FUERTE,” spoke with KPBS Midday Edition on Monday about the group being put together to conduct the research.

Eleven faculty members will be hired to conduct the research. Three of the faculty members will be working from the university's Imperial Valley campus. Eighty-five percent of Imperial County residents are Hispanic or Latino, according to the Census Bureau.

Zúñiga said the grant is a great opportunity to take health disparity research to the next level.

"It's really a golden opportunity to elevate the work that we've already been doing, by hiring a group of individuals who will come in and be part of our community," she said.

Zúñiga said SDSU was chosen for the grant by NIH because of the school's strong track record in health disparity research.

"Over the course of many years, our researchers have devoted many hours ... to reducing health disparities and really understanding some of the nuances that are important to Latinx and minority health," Zúñiga said. "We were funded by NIH because we're also home to Latinx cancer disparity researchers, specialists in environmental health, obesity, addiction and HIV. These are all the types of areas and health problems that deeply impact Latinos both regionally and nationwide."