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Cordeiro, Peterson present findings at Community Research Symposium

Lorraine CordeiroJerusha Peterman
PHOTO: Left: Lorraine Cordeiro; Right: Jerusha Peterman.

Lorraine Cordeiro and Jerusha Peterman, Assistant Professors of Nutrition, presented at the "Community Health and Research: Making the Connections" Symposium on November 4, 2011. The event, sponsored by the UMass Medical School's Center for Clinical and Translational Research, was designed to promote clinical and translational science across the UMass five-campus system, and to promote better community-engaged research.

Drs. Cordeiro and Peterman presented findings from their community-based research projects to an audience of academic and community researchers, representatives from community health centers and agencies, and faculty from across the five-campus system. Cordeiro and Peterman shared their research on "Food Security, Food Practices and Health Risks among Pregnant and Postpartum Cambodian Women Residing in Massachusetts." Peterman also presented "Food Insecurity: Nutrition and Health Implications for Immigrants and Refugees."

The projects, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, collect preliminary data of causes and consequences of food security in refugee and other low-income populations. The data will be used to support an R01 application to NIH in 2013.

The Nutrition department was also represented with a poster presentation on "Nutrition Research from Cells to Communities."

Several students joined Drs. Cordeiro and Peterman at the symposium, including Shanshan Chen, a graduate student in Nutrition, and undergraduate students Sovandara Sarou, Kannika Chap, and Alina Lee. Together, they helped design and present the posters.

One example of how the symposium achieved its mission of promoting clinical and translational science across the five-campus system came when Ms. Chen was subsequently asked to participate in translating nutrition information into Chinese for Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, MPH. Dr. Ma is an alumnus of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences and currently serves as Associate Professor of Medicine at the UMass Medical School. In addition, Daneille Reilly, MPH '10, a former student of Dr. Cordeiro, invited the student researchers to visit her community-based program in the Boston area.

Buchanan invited to events in South Africa and Wales

David BuchananDavid Buchanan, Professor and Director of the Division of Community Health Studies at the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, has been invited to Cape Town, South Africa, to serve on an external review panel for the Health Education Division of the Medical Research Council (MRC). South Africa's MRC has been described as being similar to a combination of the NIH and the CDC, in that it funds both research and programs.

This marks a return trip to South Africa for Dr. Buchanan, who began collaborating with the MRC in the late 1990s when he and a group of consultants were invited to assist in the creation of South Africa's first school of public health.

"I am delighted to go back to South Africa," Buchanan said. "There have been so many changes since the fall of apartheid that it is important to witness the country's progress."

Like many other agencies, the MRC conducts comprehensive reviews of each of its units every five years, a process that includes a self-evaluation and external review. Buchanan will serve on a panel with 7 other reviewers, including one other international reviewer.

"It is particularly gratifying to me as the Health Education Division is now directed by Dr. Priscilla Reddy, who is a former international Fulbright scholar and UMass graduate (MPH, 1993). It's great to see the things that our graduates go on to do."

The Health Education Division has been particularly active in HIV prevention, tobacco control and school health.

Earlier this past fall, Buchanan was also invited to serve as a keynote speaker at the Connected Communities Programme held September 19-21 in Cardiff, Wales. Dr. Buchanan's appearance came as part of a three-day research development workshop on "Communities, Cultures, Health & Well-Being" sponsored by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Organised as a part of the United Kingdom's cross-council Connected Communities programme, the conference aimed to build on existing research and bring together researchers from a wide range of disciplines to identify the key future research challenges and opportunities for understanding the potential contribution of community cultures and community-based cultural activities in enhancing health and well-being in communities.

"One of the main objectives of the conference," stated Dr. Buchanan, "was to introduce and integrate humanistic perspectives on people's decision-making, and in particular, looking at the role of moral reasoning in choosing the best course of action. This view stands in stark contrast to the prevailing scientific approach, which sees human behavior as caused by antecedent factors."

Buchanan added, "I have been writing about the implications of these differing assumptions for developing health promotion programs for more than 20 years. It was deeply gratifying to be part of an international conference that seeks to implement new ideas and new approaches to improving quality of life in communities."

The workshop hoped to stimulate the development of innovative cross-disciplinary research consortia, combining arts and humanities expertise with other research disciplines and community, policy and practice partners, to pursue these challenges and opportunities. A key theme was the potential to engage with diverse cultural communities in all stages of the research and in developing flourishing communities which support enhanced health and well-being and inform future policy and practice.

The AHRC is supported by the United Kingdom's Department for Business Innovations & Skills (BIS). It seeks to advance arts and humanities research worldwide.


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