Health and Medicine People and Community

Health Foundation of South Florida partners with the University to reduce health inequities

A $1 million grant will support the University of Miami’s work in identifying and addressing barriers to good health in low-income neighborhoods.
An aerial view of the Shalala Student Center on Lake Osceola and Cobb Fountain, with the City of Coral Gables in the distance.

The University of Miami has received a $1 million grant from the Health Foundation of South Florida aimed at increasing the understanding of the root causes of health inequities in historically underserved communities and delivering community-based intervention programs that reduce disparities. 

The generous funding will create the Health Foundation of South Florida Community-Academic Collaborative (HFSF-CAC) across all the campuses of the University, including the Miller School of Medicine and UHealth – University of Miami Health System. 

“The University of Miami has a long history of conducting groundbreaking research on health disparities and equitable health care access,” said University of Miami President Julio Frenk.  “We are well positioned to take on this project, which will lead to exceptional evidence-based treatment for patients across different cultures and ethnicities. We are extremely grateful to the Health Foundation of South Florida for their generous support of this initiative and look forward to collaborating with them.” 

The collaboration will bring together multidisciplinary experts from across the University and the community to develop and implement innovative community-based programs that will identify and address the root causes of health inequity across South Florida. In addition to the University of Miami, the Health Foundation of South Florida also has awarded $1 million to Nova Southeastern University to address the same barriers in Broward County. 

“The Health Foundation of South Florida is incredibly proud to support these two universities in order to advance this critical work,” said Loreen Chant, president and chief executive officer of the Health Foundation of South Florida. “The quality of the partnerships they have forged and their commitment to both study and design solutions with the community is impressive. We believe this is groundbreaking for our region, and an important step toward informing, shaping, and implementing population health efforts that can ultimately help us achieve health equity.”

As part of the grant, both universities will forge partnerships and coordinate with regional health systems and community organizations to support the adoption of promising interventions. The University of Miami will partner with Jackson Health System, with which it has a longstanding history as the medical school’s primary teaching hospital, and with the Health Choice Network, a nationally recognized nonprofit that works with 25 health centers in Florida. 

“The unique partnerships we have in the community, especially with the Jackson Health System, will allow us to move this initiative forward in a meaningful and very significant way not only for the benefit of our patients but also for our medical students so that one day when they are in practice, they can carry this knowledge forward to better serve their communities,” said Dr. Henri Ford, dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School of Medicine. “We are anxious to work with our partners and with the Health Foundation to make a profound difference in reducing health inequities across South Florida and beyond.” 

The implementation and operation of the HFSF-CAC at the University will be directed by Erin Kobetz, vice provost for research and scholarship and the John K. and Judy H. Schulte Endowed Chair in Cancer Research. Kobetz has dedicated her career to creating partnerships and developing interventions that actualize opportunities to foster health equity in South Florida. She will oversee teams of researchers representing both the University and the community partners. These teams will identify areas of health disparities and then develop and implement data-driven interventions to address the needs. 

“The grant from the HFSF provides a unique opportunity for diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to advance health equity,” explained Kobetz, who also serves as multiple principal investigator for the University’s Clinical Translational Science Institute. “This goal—which is central to the Foundation’s mission—requires a strategic commitment to leveraging the individual and collective assets of academic and community partners for sustainable social change,” she added. “The HFSF has made that commitment through these awards and the University of Miami is excited to be part of this transformative opportunity to improve health and health care access for South Florida.”

The HFSF-CAC will operate during the next three years.