Office of Health Disparities Research

Addressing Health Disparities is Our Priority.

The Jacksonville Health Disparities Oversight Committee was formed in September 2006.

About the Jacksonville Health Disparities Oversight Committee

What's Happening

Jun 26, 2018

Mayo Health Disparities Researcher Recognized for Community Outreach

By Sumedha Penheiter @sumedhapenheiter
The Jacksonville Mayor’s Hispanic American Advisory Board recently recognized Mayo Clinic physician and health disparities researcher Richard White, MD, for his outstanding contributions to the Jacksonville Hispanic Community. Dr. White, a member of OHDR’s Steering Committee, has been involved in health education and community outreach efforts, as well as extensive community [...]
Mayo Health Disparities Researcher Recognized for Community Outreach
Feb 19, 2018

New Study Will Engage African-American Community in Alzheimer's Outreach

By Sumedha Penheiter @sumedhapenheiter
While it is known that Alzheimer’s is a disease of aging, there are other factors that increase our risk for this condition. As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s rises from an estimated 5.5 million people in the U.S. to as high as 16 million in 2050, researchers are looking at how the [...]
New Study Will Engage African-American Community in Alzheimer's Outreach
Mar 23, 2016

Researchers Target Disparities in Childhood Obesity

By Sumedha Penheiter @sumedhapenheiter Richard White, M.D., Community Internal Medicine, wants to improve the odds for inner-city adolescents in Jacksonville, Florida, to live long and healthy lives. “Some reports have suggested this may be the first generation that doesn’t necessarily outlive their parents," says Dr. White. "That’s a very concerning and provoking thought.” In research funded by the Mayo Clinic Office of Health Disparities Research, Dr. White’s team recruited 20 pairs of adolescents and their adult caregivers in Health Zones 1 and 6 — primarily African-American neighborhoods that are among the poorest in Jacksonville. In the study, Dr. White’s team determined that more than half of the adolescents were obese or severely obese, and their adult caregivers also had high obesity rates. The team found that both groups responded better to positive messages about healthy choices than to negative messages that highlight barriers.


Mayo Clinic launches new initiatives to improve health in Jacksonville

Mayo Clinic launches new initiatives to improve health in Jacksonville

Feb. 10, 2017 • FLA 

A new collaborative effort kicked off in January between Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus and New Town Success Zone, a community organization focused on education, social well-being and community sustainability.

Together, Mayo Clinic and New Town Success Zone launched an 18-month, community-led wellness effort called Wellness Rx that will focus on health disparities identified in the New Town community. 

The effort addresses a major community need Mayo Clinic and other hospitals and health care providers identified in the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment. The assessment is used to identify health needs in the community and provides valuable information for hospitals and other agencies to focus their community outreach efforts.

The 2015 assessment identified health disparities, mental health and obesity as major concerns for the Jacksonville, Florida, community. To address these health issues, Mayo Clinic has initiated multiple projects to contribute to the needs of the community.


“Wellness Rx provides education on health issues, empowers the community to take action, and encourages residents to develop healthier habits,” says Ann-Marie Knight, Public Affairs, who is the administrator of Community Engagement in Florida.

More than 25 nonprofit agencies, including the American Heart Association and Feeding Northeast Florida, support Wellness Rx, which was launched on Jan. 28 at the Center for the Prevention of Health Disparities on the Edwards Waters College campus in Jacksonville.

Mayo Clinic, in collaboration with nonprofit hospitals in the region, also is supporting Mental Health First Aid, an eight-hour CPR-like education training program open to all Mayo Clinic staff and the community. The training introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia. Courses are held monthly on the Florida campus and elsewhere in the community.


Giving back to the community always has been, and will continue to be, a part of the Mayo Clinic culture. Mayo's founders saw it as a responsibility to give back, sharing their knowledge, resources and time to benefit the community. “All who are benefited by community life, especially the physician, owe something to the community," said Charles H. Mayo, M.D.

“Our three-shield expertise is a unique health resource advantage for the Jacksonville community,” says Amy Pollak, M.D., Cardiovascular Diseases, who chairs the Community Giving Committee. “We will focus on demonstrating that we are an effective healing force for our community as well as for our patients.”

Following in the footsteps of the Mayo brothers, staff at the Mayo Clinic Florida campus participate in community events, including the Heart WalkKatie Ride and the Donna Marathon, to name a few, to help create awareness on a wide range of health issues.


The new Community Engagement and Giving intranet site for the Florida campus has details on these community giving projects. Email Florida Community Relations for more information.


Lena Kassab, M.D., left, a Family Medicine resident, and other Mayo Clinic staff guided residents in completing surveys to help them understand their health status and willingness to make changes.

In the photo at left, Floyd Willis, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Family Medicine physician, helped kick off Wellness Rx on the Edward Waters College campus in Jacksonville. In the photo above, Mayo Clinic Pharmacy residents Stephanie Doleman, Pharm. D., and David Veasey, Pharm. D., were on hand to answer questions about medications.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Currie and his daughter chat with Ann-Marie Knight, Public Affairs, and Darnell Smith, chair, 2017 Board of Directors, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

Community Research Advisory Board

EWCAn advisory board of community leaders, citizens, faculty from local institutions and Mayo Clinic staff meets regularly to:

  • Ensure Mayo Clinic's community-based research projects are culturally competent
  • Identify methods for recruiting minorities into research studies
  • Improve communication between researchers and the community

Monica Albertie, M.H.A
OHDR Project Manager

Promoting Minority Health Through CBPR

Sept. 22-23: FLORIDA—Promoting Minority Health Through CBPR

The Florida Community Health Worker Coalition, in partnership with the University of Florida’s Health Disparities Research and Intervention Program, announces the People’s Scientific Conference to Promote Minority Health Through Community-Based Participatory Research: Community Health Workers Lead the Way and the 7th Annual Florida Community Health Worker Coalition Summit on September 22-23, 2017 in Gainesville, FL. MORE INFORMATION

Projects in Florida


Oct 4, 2014

Assessing Knowledge and Perceptions of HPV and the HPV Vaccine in a Working Uninsured Clinic

By OHDR Admin @ohdradmin
Researchers Carmen Radecki Breitkopf, Ph.D. Gerardo Colón-Otero, M.D. Summary Surveying patients at the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic to understand parental perceptions and knowledge on HPV vaccination and HPV disease for those with children ages 11–26 and general perceptions for those without children.
Oct 3, 2014

Collaboration between Patients, Hospice and Oncology Practices to Reduce Palliative Care Disparities

By OHDR Admin @ohdradmin
Researcher Gerardo Colón-Otero, M.D. Summary Understanding and developing culturally tailored palliative initiatives directed to minority cancer patients.
Oct 2, 2014

Barriers and Beliefs that Contribute to Late Stage Treatment of Breast Cancer in African American Women

By OHDR Admin @ohdradmin
Researchers Steven C. Ames, Ph.D. Sarah Osian, Ph.D. (UF Health) Gerardo Colón-Otero, M.D. Summary Utilizing focus groups with African American women residing in Health Zone 1 to understand if there are any existing cultural or access barriers that lead to late stage treatment of breast cancer.
Oct 1, 2014

Motivating Youth at Risk for Obesity through Multi-Level Community Activation (Mayo-YMCA)

By OHDR Admin @ohdradmin
Researcher Richard O. White, M.D. Summary Conducting a series of qualitative and quantitative assessments among African American youths and parents/adult caregivers in order to understand specific motivators and barriers for a healthy lifestyle, in collaboration with the First Coast YMCA and Nemours Children’s Clinic. Read more.
Sep 30, 2014

Pilot Study to Determine the Feasibility of Using Technology to Promote Physical Activity Among Older African American Adults with Osteoarthritis and Obesity

By OHDR Admin @ohdradmin
Researcher Richard O. White, M.D. Summary Pilot study of older (ages 55–85) African American adults to determine the impact of using an advanced pedometer on physical activity levels and osteoarthritis symptoms.
Sep 29, 2014

Pilot Study of Education and Screening Efforts Targeting Vitamin D Insufficiency in African Americans Living in a Metro Southern Community

By OHDR Admin @ohdradmin
Researcher Alexander S. Parker, Ph.D. Summary Conducted educational sessions and vitamin D screenings in the local African American community in order to understand the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in African Americans living in Jacksonville.
Sep 28, 2014

Evaluation of Vitamin D Insufficiency and Inner City Asthma Among African Americans in Jacksonville, Florida

By OHDR Admin @ohdradmin
Researcher Thanai Pongdee, M.D. Summary Screening participants from a previous vitamin D study for allergens and asthma in order to determine the link between vitamin D deficiency and asthma prevalence.
Sep 4, 2014

Cancer-Focused Project Partnering with a Minority Serving Institution

By OHDR Admin @ohdradmin
Researcher Floyd B. Willis, M.D. Summary Develop a project with a cancer focus that will utilize Edward Waters College students as possible community health workers to provide health education to the surrounding community.
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