December 2018January 2019


2019 Health and Resource Fair


The HEALTH Research Institute kicked off the year with a health fair on Jan 26 sponsored by the TOUCH program, in collaboration with Councilwoman Karla Cisneros and the UnitedHealthcare Foundation. The event helped bring together a congregation of dynamic, health-focused vendors from all over the city. HRI looks to build upon the momentum by sharing the resources we offer by participating in health fairs across the city and recruiting for the many research projects we are undertaking.

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December 2018


HEALTH Research Institute and Project TOUCH is spotlighted in the UH Health Magazine


In Houston, two populations seem most at risk for diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 72 percent of African-Americans and 78 percent of Latinos in Houston are overweight or obese, a common precursor to the disease.

Project TOUCH (Treating Obesity in Underserved Communities) was born out of concern over these stats. The program set out to help identify residents of Houston’s Third Ward and East End at risk for chronic diseases and connect them with programs and services to help them maximize their health potential.

Read the full article here

December 2018


Dr. Reitzel and Chisom Odoh are featured in the UH Health Magazine

UHAND co-director Lorraine Reitzel, who chairs the department of psychological, health and learning sciences in the UHCollege of Education, said program participants all are driven to address the troubling disparities in cancer risk, rates and outcomes among racial and ethnic groups. According to the American Cancer Society, the disease is the leading cause of death among Hispanics, and African Americans have the highest death rate for most cancers. 

Read the full article her

December 20, 2018


Simulated environment, real results

Generally, people aren’t trained to manage stress in a healthy way. After a hard day of work filled with deadlines, many go home to an alcoholic beverage and an immediate “escape.” But that instant gratification can lead to addiction. By studying the body’s response to stress, Dr. Obasi believes he can develop positive coping interventions. 

 Read the full article here 

December 2018

fresh fruit versus baked goods

Mentee Daphne Hernandez  speaks about limited access to healthy food in  underserved communities 

 While financial issues can limit access to healthy food, geography plays a role too. More than 23 million Americans live in “food deserts”—areas that are more than a mile away from a supermarket. Regardless of socioeconomic status, the typical American diet is poor. Only one in 10 adults eats the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day. 

Read the full article here

December 2018


Virmarie Correa-Fernández is determined to help Latinos who have anxiety and/or depression quit smoking.

According to national statistics, Latino adults generally have lower prevalence of cigarette smoking than other racial and ethnic groups. However, their main causes of death are smoking-related diseases such as heart disease and cancer. They also experience tobacco-related disparities, including suboptimal assistance with quitting.

Read the full article here

December 3, 2018


 Dr.  Ezemenari Obasi shares tips for quitting alcohol and the role of counseling on Fox 26 

Dr. Obasi discusses treatment options for alcohol abuse that include behavioral therapy, medication, and/or group counseling. Furthermore, he recommends building a support network of family, friends, and/or loved ones to start the healing process. 

View the Interview

July 31, 2018


  Partnership Moving into Houston’s East End after Success in Third Ward

Midway through a three-year, $2 million grant from the United Health Foundation, University of Houston’s Project TOUCH (Treating Obesity in Underserved Communities) has impressive numbers to report. Based on its success in Houston’s Third Ward, the effort for preventing and treating obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other ailments will move into Houston’s East End in the fall.Under the direction of professors Ezemenari Obasi and Dan O’Connor, fellows at the UH institute fighting health disparities called UH HEALTH (Helping Everyone Achieve a Life Time of Health) Research Institute, the community collaborative program is reporting:

  • 1,350 total patients
  • Prevention and screenings: 1,159
  • Treatment: 207
  • UH BOUNCE Childhood Obesity Program: 147 families
  • Patients referred to YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program: 60

View the Interview  

July 24, 2018


 United Health Foundation, UH Expand Obesity and Diabetes Program

Midway through a three-year, $2 million grant from the United Health Foundation, University of Houston’s Project TOUCH (Treating Obesity in Underserved Communities) has impressive numbers to report. Based on its success in Houston’s Third Ward, the effort for preventing and treating obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other ailments will move into Houston’s East End in the fall.

Read the full article here

June, 2018


 Nearly Half of Diabetics Skimp on Treatment Due to High Insulin Cost

Almost half of diabetics in America have cut back on treatment at some point due to the price of insulin hitting new heights.

“Its not regulated so, if you don't have a lot of competition for something like insulin that's available for folks, then the price is going to be pretty much jacked up,” says Dr. Ezemenari Obasi, an associate dean of Research at the University of Houston.

According to the American Diabetes Association, between 2002 and 2013 the average price of insulin has nearly tripled.

View the Interview

March 21, 2018



Dr. Obasi examines health disparities and Project TOUCH on Houston Matters

UH Researcher Examines Health Disparities In Houston

Houston Matters learns about a grant to study health disparities and cultural predictors of health behavior in the African-American community.

Dr. Ezemenari Obasi wears many hats at the University of Houston. He’s associate dean of research at the university’s College of Education. He’s also the founder and director of the HEALTH Research Institute, which examines addictions and health disparities in Houston communities.

Dr. Obasi’s most recent research focuses on obesity and Type 2 diabetes in Houston’s Third Ward. The project is funded by a grant, and it provides obesity and diabetes primary prevention services and intervention programs in the Third Ward and, eventually, East End communities. Dr. Obasi says he’s working on building a permanent framework so there’s support in these communities after the funding runs out.

Houston Matters talks with Dr. Obasi about his research, how he wants to help surrounding Houston communities, and how Hurricane Harvey was both disruptive to his research and also provided an opportunity to collect new data on stress.

Click here to find out more

March 05, 2018



Dr. May Appointed By National Science Foundation as Program Director

Elebeoba E. May, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering, received a $215,032 Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) award from the National Science Foundation.

The award supports her year-long appointment at the NSF as a program director of the Systems and Synthetic Biology Cluster within the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Division.

As a program director, May will make funding recommendations; influence new directions in the fields of science, engineering and education; and support cutting-edge interdisciplinary research.

Read the full article here

March, 2018



HHP Faculty Received William T. Grant Research Award

HHP faculty Dr. Daphne Hernandez and Dr. Daniel O'Connor, along with Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (Temple University) have been awarded a research award from the William T. Grant Foundation.

Their project titled "Can Food Scholarships Reduce Inequality by Improving College Persistence Among Community College Students?" aims to investigate how food scholarships affect low-income community college students’ grades, persistence, and sense of belonging in college and if they have more benefits for Latino and African American students.

Read the full article here

December 01, 2017


 Dr. Reitzel Weighs in on Anti-Smoking ads with Texas Medical Center

New anti-smoking advertisements look like nothing consumers have seen before.

The ads display plain black text on a plain white background. There are no images of any kind. A monotone, seemingly robotic voice reads the text, with no vocal inflection and no music in the background.

Read the full article here

September 29 , 2017


 HRI featured in Research & Innovation 2017

The latest issue of the UH Research & Innovation Magazine focuses on the role urban universities play in promoting public health. Read the feature articles below.  

Getting Healthcare in the Community  

Don’t Dismiss Smoking as a Minor Health Concern  

August 19, 2017


 West Texas Centers to End Tobacco use on Properties September 1 

The West Texas Centers is partnering with "Taking Texas Tobacco Free" (TTTF), which is funded by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. The TTTF project provides training, technical assistance and treatment resources to mental health authorities across the state in their efforts to become tobacco free.  

Read the full article 

March 28, 2017


 UHF Gives $2million Grant toTackle Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in the Third Ward  

The HEALTH Research Institute will get a $2 million grant to help prevent and treat obesity and Type 2 diabetes in the city's Third Ward, a place that can often slip through the health care cracks. The program, scheduled to launch later this spring, is expected to reach 5,000 residents in the next three years, program organizers said. It is being funded by a grant from United Health Foundation, the nonprofit charitable arm of UnitedHealth Group, the insurance giant's parent company.

Watch Dr. Ezemenari Obasi and Dr. Dan O'Connor discuss the UHF grant on Fox26 Houston below.  

Read the full announcement in the Houston Chronicle 

Read the UH press release

September 27, 2016


 Special News & Events: The HEALTH Research Institute officially launches

The University of Houston released its official announcement of the HEALTH Research Institute. 

Co-founded by Dr. Ezemenari Obasi and Dr. Lorraine Reitzel, the interdisciplinary group of scientists behind the HEALTH Research Institute will focus on making improvements within communities that bear a disproportionate burden of disease and who are oftentimes disenfranchised, marginalized or underserved. “The University of Houston is embedded in one of the largest and most diverse metropolitan areas in the nation,” Obasi said. “We are committed to advancing science and practice to improve the health and, ultimately, the lives of those we interact with every day.” 

Read the full article here

December 2, 2015


 Dr. Lorraine Reitzel Leads Taking Texas Tobacco Free Initiative  

Dr. Lorraine Reitzel highlights the important work of the Taking Texas Tobacco Free program sponsored by the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas in this article from the UH College of Education. 

Read the full article here 

November 26, 2014

Fast food in low-income areas

 Dr. Lorraine Reitzel's Study Featured in Article on Income and Obesity 

UH's The Daily Cougar profile on the link between fast food in low-income areas and obesity references study by Dr. Lorraine Reitzel, co-director of the HEALTH Research Institute.  

Read the article here 

May 23, 2013

Fast food restaurant

 Research by Dr. Lorraine Reitzel featured in Atlanta Black Star 

Dr. Reitzel, co-director of the HEALTH REsearch  Institute, is quoted in Atlanta Black Star that focuses on her study published in the American Journal of Public Health on the link between fast-food restaurant proximity and higher BMI found in African-American population.  

Read the article here 

April 5, 2013


Dr. Ezemenari Obasi awarded $2.5 Million to Study Effects of Stress on Substance Abuse

A five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) / National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) will support research from the University of Houston College of Education to investigate mechanisms that influence drug-related health disparities in the African-American community. Ezemenari M. Obasi, co-director of the HEALTH Research Institute, will lead research in Harris county and eight surrounding urban and rural counties.  He says the development of drug use and abuse in the African-American community is often informed by research that rarely include African-Americans or their social and cultural experiences. 

Read the full press release

Dr. Reitzel speaks about CPRIT and TTTF at CPRIT Conference

Taking Texas Tobacco Free & CPRIT Conference

UHF grant on Fox26 Houston

Watch Dr. Ezemenari Obasi and Dr. Dan O'Connor discuss the UHF grant on Fox26 Houston

Dr. Ezemenari Obasi published in Frontiers in Psychology

Dr. Ezemenari Obasi published in Frontiers in Psychology

Dr. Lorraine Reitzel published in Addiction

Read the full text, "Is smoking cessation associated with worse comorbid substance use outcomes among homeless adults?" on The Wiley Online Library.