This past March, BMCC health education professor Rachel Torres was recognized at the annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Health Behavior (AAHB) in San Antonio, TX for her acceptance into AAHB’s year-long Research Scholars Mentoring Program.
The mentoring program pairs early-career investigators with senior AAHB members for a year, in order to enhance their research in the field of health behavior.
In February 2015, Professor Torres started meeting with Derek Griffith, a senior researcher with AAHB and Associate Professor of Medicine, Health & Society at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and they will continue to meet through February 2016.
Professor Griffith’s research explores social influences that contirbute to racial and ethnic health disparities, especially those that impact men’s health. He and his work have been featured on NPR, Time Magazine, US News & World Report and USA Today.
Griffith will provide feedback as Torres continues her research to identify interventions surrounding the health of underserved groups, and to examine the influence of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
“Specifically, I am interested in exploring interventions for chronic conditions and diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and obesity, all factors that contribute to health disparities,” she says.
For Torres, the research focus of her work reflects a personal connection.
“My interest in the health issues of underserved populations stems from my experiences working with immigrant populations in Southern California,” she says.
“I worked as a nutrition educator with different communities, through the University of California Cooperative Extension, and this shaped my career path in public health and health education.”
At the end of her year in the mentoring project, she will submit an article to a peer-reviewed journal.
She also plans to submit her findings to groups such as the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and the National Institutes of Health, with a long-term goal of impacting policy related to disparities in health.