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Latest News


May 2021
Dr. Ivan Wu is the recipient of the NIH Pathway to Independence Award

Congratulations to UHAND post-doctoral fellow Dr. Ivan Wu, who has received the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00, 1K99MD015296) from NIMHD (National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities) for the period 5/6/2021 - 5/6/2026. The proposed research, titled “The Social Determinants of Sleep and Obesity: Disparities in African Americans” aims to reduce health disparities by promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors among African Americans who are disproportionally affected by diseases associated with low physical activity, insufficient sleep, and obesity. Dr. Wu’s aim is also to better understand sleep disparities and to adapt a sleep intervention to decrease cancer risk among African American adults. Dr. Wu will continue to work with Dr. Lorna McNeill, who is a Principal Investigator of the UHAND Partnership and Ivan’s UHAND mentor.

May 2021
Student Spotlight Award

We're proud to announce that UHAND scholar, Niloofar Tavakoli is the recipient of the "Student Spotlight Award" for the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. The award recognizes and highlights students who are doing important work in the contextual behavior science community whether for research, clinical, and/or volunteer-humanitarian efforts. She will be featured on their website in the “What’s New” section of the homepage for one week as well as in their newsletter and on various social media sites.

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May 2021
Community Outreach Seminar Series

Ms. Ana Zelaya of The Women’s Fund presented to our scholars as part of our Community Outreach Seminar Series. The Women’s Fund is a non-profit organization that provides women and girls in the greater Houston area the tools they need to be advocates for their health. They generally work with women and girls who have limited access to health information and often struggle to maintain their basic health needs.

April  2021
Research Explores Black Survivors' 'Empowered Choices' Following Breast Cancer

UHAND affiliate and investigator, Dr. Shahnjayla K. Connors, has recently published a paper, been interviewed on the Isiah Factor Show, and featured in an article on the decisions that African-American women make in considering breast reconstruction and the challenges they face in decision making.

See the interview

April  2021
Scholar Presentation

Our UHAND scholars presented their research to the community outreach mentors. Our community mentors had so many overwhelmingly positive things to say about our scholars' work. Well done!

April  2021
Community Leaders and Scholar Group Conversation

Early this month, our scholars had a chance to speak with our community leaders to better understand how they could support communities disparately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic! 

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March  2021
Mentor and Scholar Group Conversation

Scholars had the opportunity to learn more about their community mentors. Scholars chose three topics to discuss: educational and professional experiences, health disparities, and working with the community.

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March  2021
Community Outreach Seminar with Talent Yield Coalition, Marcelous-Williams Resource Center

The Center serves as a one-stop-shop for social services, resource assistance, and education in East Harris County and Chambers County. Through their comprehensive intake assessment, case management, and plans of action, they are able to help clients find the help they need.

March 31, 2021
Congratulations to Paulina Linares 

Paulina Linares Abrego, a UHAND alum, was accepted into her top choice clinical psychology doctoral program at UNC- Chapel Hill where she will be working with Dr. Daughters in the Brane lab beginning in the fall.  Nice work, Paulina!!!

March 30, 2021
2021 Faculty Excellence Awards 

Congratulations to Dr. Rosie Murillo, former UHAND ESI Administrative Supplement recipient and UHAND mentor, who is a recipient of the 2021 Undergraduate Research Mentor Award! This award recognizes the mentorship efforts of the University of Houston faculty at all stages of their careers. It acknowledges faculty who are making a significant impact in their field by supporting and mentoring undergraduate students in research and scholarship endeavors and who have demonstrated at least five years of mentorship involvement. 

March 30, 2021
2020-21 Awards for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity

Congratulations to Dr. Ezemenari Obasi, UHAND Internal Advisory Committee Chair on the UH side and UHAND mentor, on his award for Research Excellence as a Professor! This award recognizes faculty who have a substantial continuing record of outstanding research, scholarship, and creative activities.

February 2021
Pilot Research Award

UHAND Graduate Scholar, Danielle Llaneza, has received a pilot research award for her work titled "Self-Report Study to Understand Adequacy of and Barriers to Psychosocial Support for Adult Cancer Patients and Survivors of Color During COVID-19". The $7500 award was funded by the  Research Completion Award, made possible through the Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program (GMaP) Region 3, an initiative of the National Cancer Institute’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. We'd like to congratulate Danielle on this achievement, made possible in part through the guidance of her UHAND mentor, Dr. Correa-Fernandez!

January 15, 2021
Congratulations to Ashley Taylor and Basant Gamal 

We're proud to announce that two of our former UHAND scholars are being recognized for their amazing work by MD Anderson Cancer Center. Ashley Taylor has been recognized for being an "Outstanding Research Trainee in Cancer Prevention of 2021" and Basant Gamal for "Outstanding Research Student in Cancer Prevention, Honorable Mention".

November 13, 2020
Ashley Taylor and Sahar Eshtehardi successfully complete their candidacies

We're super excited to announce that Ashley Taylor and Sahar Eshtehardi (former UHAND scholars) have successfully completed their candidacies!

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November 2020
Danielle Llaneza featured on UH College Roundup for November 2020

UHAND would like to congratulate UHAND Graduate Scholar, Danielle Llaneza. She's been selected as a peer-mentor for the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity Peer Collaboration Program.

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October 2020
Danielle Llaneza featured
on UH College Roundup for October 2020

UHAND scholar, Danielle Llaneza, a doctoral student in the Health Psychology track of the Counseling Psychology program, has been accepted into the New York Academy of Medicine as a student member. This will allow her to become more involved in issues relevant to public health. Llaneza’s research focuses on investigating the biological and psychological aspects of disease in adult minority populations.

September 29, 2020
Undergraduate Research Day

Our UHAND scholars presented their posters virtually for the University of Houston's annual Undergraduate Research Day held virtually on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. They're featured on page 17 of the program. Their presentations can also be found here.

Stephanie Ramirez:

Ramirez, S., Acquati, C., LaMarca-Lyon, A., Gaines, L., Bajic, M., Cotter Mena, K., & Wagner, R. (2020, September). Young Women with Breast Cancer: Preliminary Results from A Cross-Sectional Study of Unmet Needs. University of Houston’s 2020 Undergraduate Research Day, Houston, TX.


Karina Serrano:

Serrano, K., & Carmack, C. (2020, September). Understanding How to Address Cervical Cancer Disparities in African American and Hispanic Populations. Poster presentation at the University of Houston's Undergraduate Research Day, Houston, TX.   


Matthew Taing:

Taing, M., Kyburz, B., Leal, I.M., Le, K., Chen, T-A., Correa-Fernandez V., Williams, T., O’Connor, D.P., Obasi, E.M., Casey, K., Koshy, L., & Reitzel, L.R. (2020, September). Implementation of a comprehensive tobacco free workplace program in agencies serving the homeless and vulnerably housed. University of Houston’s 2020 Undergraduate Research Day, Houston, TX.

July 9, 2020
Sahar Eshtehardi featured on UH College Roundup

UHAND alumna, Sahar Eshtehardi, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, will serve as student representative on the board of directors for the American Psychological Association’s Society of Pediatric Psychology (Division 54). In addition to attending all board meetings, she will attend and assist with conference planning.

June 2020
Meet Our New Scholars
We are excited to announce our second cohort of UHAND Scholars, which comprises 3 graduate students and 3 undergraduate students. During this application cycle, we had many excellent applicants to the UHAND Program, making the selection process especially challenging. We look forward to working with our incoming UHAND Scholars who began their fellowships with us on June 1, 2020!
May 2020
Strengthen Your Immune System with Home Exercise
Dr. Melissa Markofski (UHAND Supplement Investigator) was recently featured in an article written by the University of Houston. In this article, Dr. Markofski discusses the importance of exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting exercise’s role in boosting immune system function.
May 22, 2020
UHAND Graduation
Due to social distancing with COVID-19 we couldn't physically get together to congratulate our amazing first cohort and give them their hard-earned certificates. Instead, we all got on Zoom and heard our Principal Investigators Dr. Lorraine Reitzel, from the University of Houston, and Dr. Lorna McNeil, from MD Anderson, give inspirational presentations and speeches to propel our scholars forward to whatever wonderful future awaits them. Drs. Kayce Solari Williams and Shine Change also gave words of wisdom before presenting each scholar with a personalized message as they held up their beautiful certificates for all of us to see. We wish them all the best on all their future endeavors. 
May 2020
UHAND and the COVID-19 Pandemic
In response to COVID-19, the UHAND team has been working diligently to create online programming for our current Scholars who will graduate from the UHAND Program in late May. We have also been working to transition the summer UHAND curriculum to a virtual format in order to provide our incoming Scholars with an enriching online research and educational experience. We are incredibly grateful to everyone in the UHAND team, our mentors, and our Scholars for their flexibility as we adapt the UHAND Program in light of COVID-19.
May 2020
Congratulations to UHAND scholar, Shreya Desai, for being accepted into the Stanford University's Graduate Program
We are excited to announce that Shreya Desai (UHAND undergraduate Scholar) has been accepted to Stanford University’s Master’s in Science of Community Health and Prevention Research (CHPR) Program! This program is a part of the Stanford Prevention Research Center in the School of Medicine and focuses on chronic disease prevention through education, mentorship, and community engagement. Shreya will start in the CHPR Program in Fall of 2020. The UHAND Program wishes Shreya luck, and we are “Cougar Proud” of her accomplishments!
May 2020
UHAND scholar, Krystal Christopher ( graduate ), recently successfully defended her doctoral candidacy project
Krystal Christopher (UHAND graduate Scholar) recently successfully defended her doctoral candidacy project, “The Role of Neighborhood Violence: An Examination of its Association with Stress and Marijuana Use among African American Emerging Adults.” Krystal works on this project with her UHAND and degree program mentor, 
Dr. Ezemenari Obasi.
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May 2020
UHAND scholar, Sahar Eshtehardi's perspective on pursuing her PhD from home during COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, my classes have shifted to an online format, research data collection is at a standstill, and clinical training is virtually non-existent. These changes pose new complications in graduate education, ones I did not even fathom when I began my doctoral program 2 years ago.
May 2020
Congratulations to UHAND scholar, Sara Flores, for being accepted into the Texas A&M Graduate Program
UHAND scholar Sara Flores was recently accepted into the Graduate Program in the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M University to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Health Education. Dr. Kelly Wilson will serve as Sara’s graduate chair and advisor. Dr. Wilson’s expertise in adolescent health and experience managing community-based research projects will aid Sara on her path to becoming an accomplished, independent, and ethical researcher. Sara has plans to continue her work in cancer disparities research. Ultimately, she aims to act as an advocate for underserved communities and work to address the social determinants correlated with health inequities so that good health may be attainable for all.
Mar 2020
What coronavirus means for food insecurity
UHAND mentor, Daphne Hernandez speaks to the Hill about what happens when schools close for an extended period of time and how that increases food insecurity for children.
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Oct. 2019
Dr. Shahnjayla K. Connors led the panel, It takes All of Us to Keep Us Well! Engaging in Transdisciplinary & Community-Engaged Research to Reduce Health Disparities in Our Communities, at the 2019 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics in the Sciences (SACNAS) National Diversity in STEM Conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii in October.
Dec. 5, 2019
UH College of Education Professor to Lead American School Health Association
Kayce Solari Williams, U-HAND Education Program Director, was recently elected president of the American School Health Association. Beginning her new role Jan. 1, Williams said her top priority is to advocate for policies that create healthier, more supportive environments in schools across the nation. 
Nov. 1, 2019
Third Pilot Announcement
Dr. Lorraine Reitzel and Dr. Lorna McNeill, UHAND Principal Investigators, in collaboration with MD Anderson’s Duncan Family Institute, are excited to announce that Dr. Guang Peng (Associate Professor at MD Anderson) and Dr. XinLi Liu (Associate Professor at the University of Houston) will lead UHAND’s third pilot study titled “Novel Formulation of Synthetic Retinoid for Chemoprevention.” 
Fall 2018
UH Students Study Health Abroad

Professor Kayce Solari Williams was interviewed regarding the trip she co-led for UH students to go study abroad to the Dominican Republic to learn about global health. They took backpacks filled with much needed and appreciated medical supplies to a source-poor community.
Fall 2018
Powerhouse Team Fights Cancer

UHAND was featured in the University of Houston Magazine, The Health Issue, highlighting Scholars Krystal Christopher, Chisom Odoh and Dr. Reitzel. Read about what inspired them to make a difference!

Fall 2018
Tackling Obesity, Food Insecurity and Poor Nutrition

ESI Dr Hernandez’s Research is featured in the University of Houston Magazine, The Health Issue. She speaks about financial and geographical barriers that limit access to healthy food.

Internal Advisory Committee

Left to right:

Dr. Sharon Giordano

Dr. Robert McPherson

Dr. Elizabeth Travis

Dr. Lorraine Reitzel

Dr. Lorna McNeill

Dr. Ezemenari Obasi

Dr. Dan O'Connor

Dr. Sanjay Shete

Dr. Stephen J. Spann

11th AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved
UHAND Partnership

UHAND Partnership

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TMC News, August 21, 2018
MD Anderson and UH Partner to Tackle Cancer Health Disparities
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Houston (UH) recently announced the launch of a new multidisciplinary partnership to address cancer health disparities among black and Hispanic populations in the city.
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Houston Chronicle, August 12, 2018
Diversity is a priority in new cancer fight
Houston Chronicle, August 6, 2018
Collaboration aims to curb cancer in Houston's black and Hispanic communities
A new collaboration between University of Houston and the MD Anderson Cancer Center aims to reduce cancer rates among black and Hispanic residents of Houston while also training young minority scholars in the fields of science and medicine.
The Daily Cougar, November 1, 2017
Cancer research aims to break down racial barriers to health

For chair of the Department of Psychological, Health and Learning Sciences at the University of Houston College of Education Lorraine Reitzel, it is important to promote diversity in science.


UH has formed a collaboration, known as U-HAND, with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to create a program to reduce cancer disparities. Reitzel is one of the partnership directors.

Cancer Frontline, October 11, 2017
Research training programs to address cancer disparities among minorities

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., and will claim the lives of an estimated 600,920 in this country in 2017, according to the American Cancer Society. While the disease impacts all races and ethnicities, it doesn’t do so equally.

University of Houston News & Events, October 11, 2017
Expanding the Pipeline for the Health Care Professions

‘Disparity’ is a bad word to Lorraine Reitzel, chair of the Department of Psychological, Health and Learning Sciences at the University of Houston College of Education. And yet it defines everything she does.

“Disparity is an unfair difference. It’s not just a difference; it’s based on some inequity that’s potentially solvable,” said Reitzel.

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