Hunter College, the City University of New York

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for Addressing Health Disparities and Improving Health Outcomes

From the Associate Director...

VallesRodrigo Valles, Jr.

April is National  Minority Health Month and the theme this year is “Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation.” We are pleased to focus this newsletter  on some of the ways the CTBR addresses minority health issues, both as a Center and through our individual members’ efforts. We are especially excited to share community health projects undertaken by CTBR members.

On May 5, 2016 the CTBR is co-hosting a symposium with CTSC on the Current Advances in Prostate Cancer Health Disparities. “The disparity in prostate cancer mortality among men of African descent continues worldwide”, our afternoon keynote speaker notes. The all-day symposium will cover global, national, and local trends in diagnosis and treatment. We look forward to seeing you at the symposium.

These types of projects help advance the CTBR goal of fostering collaborative translational research that seeks to understand how to attain meaningful health outcomes.



JUDITH APONTE is the new editor-in cheif for Hispanic Healthcare international.  In March 2016, Dr. Aponte was unanimously elected Editor-in-Chief for Hispanic Healthcare International, the official journal of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses published by Sage. She will serve in this role for the next three years.  Dr. Aponte also received a 2016 Suzanne Smith Mentoring Editors Award by the International Academy of Nursing Editors (INANE).  Each awardee is paired with an editor-mentor. Serving as Dr. Aponte’s mentor is Dr. Carolyn Yucha, Editor-in-Chief of Biological Research in Nursing and Dean at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

Judith Aponte
Judith Aponte


JILL BARGONETTI’s lab studies molecular signal transduction pathways activated by various chemotherapeutic drugs to bring about differential activation of p53 target genes as well as to activate alternative p53-independent cell death pathways that facilitate killing resistant cancer cells. Dr. Bargonetti received a CTBR Pilot award to examine Mdm2 and Mutant p53 Molecular Mechanisms of African American Breast Cancer. Her work to determine if mutant p53 and Mdm2 are involved in the mechanisms that drive cancer disparities for breast cancer in African American patients carries the promise to elucidate the basic biology that underlies the pathophysiology of disparities for African American patients.

Dr. Bargonetti’s research has reached a wider audience through PBS and TEDx. In 2015 her work was featured in the PBS special "American Graduate Day"  and her dance-based genomics class performed a segment of their choreography at the TEDxCUNY held at the TriBeCa Performing Arts Center.

Jill Bargonetti


DAVID FOSTER’s lab has received international attention for their reasearch on cancer-fighting potential of a compound within extra-virgin olive oil. Their paper in Molecular and Cellular Oncology describes how oleocanthal kills cancerous cells in the laboratory by rupturing vesicles that store the cell’s waste. The findings have implications for the health benefits of EVOO and for the use of OC as an anti-cancer therapeutic agent. 

Dr. Foster explains the cancer fighting potential of extra virgin olive oil in this NBC News 4 New York segment.


David Foster

TRACY DENNIS-TIWARY's lab focuses on "how emotions, habits of thinking, and our ability to flexibly change them play a key role in psychological well-being across the lifespan. She applies behavioral and neuroscience research findings from her lab to fuel the development of innovative intervention and health promotion techniques, including a Digital Mental Health initiative." Her research has received wide media coverage including NPRCNN and The Wall Street Journal. Dr. Dennis-Tiwary is co-director of the Hunter College Stress, Anxiety, and Resilience Research Center (STARR) together with GLENN SCHAFE. Their inaugural conference on Stress and Trauma: Recent Innovations and Future Directions was held on April 15, 2016, and can be viewed here. 

Tracy Dennis


The CTBR Bioinformatics Core Facility enables large-scale bioinformatics capabilities for translational and minority health disparities genomics research. Our facility provides the computational resources and bioinformatics  expertise which facilitate genomic sequencing technology for CTBR researchers. We have established an innovative  bioinformatics center that is unique across the RCMI, CTSC and RTRN research networks, and provides a blueprint for the integration of genomic sequencing technology into health disparities research. Furthermore, the genomic sequencing technology provided by the facility can be used for applications such as RNAseq for gene expression analysis, exome sequencing for genetic variation discovery, CHIPseq for protein interactions, methylation studies and 16S metagenomic analysis. By combining our current sequencing instrument with a high-capacity computer cluster, we provide seamless operation from the stage of data generation at the sequencer, to scientific discovery through data analysis on the cluster.  The goal with the integration of the sequencing and bioinformatics at the CTBR Bioinformatics Facility is to accommodate multiple faculty performing state of the art health disparities genomics research.


Community Engagement...                      

CTBR members MARIANN WEIERICH and LORIE GOSHIN recently received a community engagement pilot award from the Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) titled Biobehavioral Markers of Relational Risk Between Women Under Community Criminal Justice Supervision and Their Children. Drs. Weierich and Goshin will investigate biomarkers of parenting-related stress in mothers who are under community criminal justice supervision. This spring, the researchers started to collect data at an East Harlem home for these mothers. A growing body of research demonstrates the intergenerational transmission of stress, and maternal stress reactivity is one potential mechanism for stress transmission. The complete elimination of stressors in this population is unrealistic, making it is essential to identify other mechanisms to disrupt intergenerational stress transmission. The maternal-child relationship, as a potential moderator of the effects of cumulative stress exposure on child health and behavioral outcomes, represents an important intervention target which can provide valuable and novel data about their relative utility in this population, but also advance our understanding of their relative utility in chronically-stressed populations more generally.

OLORUNSEUN OGUNWOBI collaborates with the Bronx Health Link (TBHL), a health education, research, and advocacy group that engages Bronx residents, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders in pursuing better health outcomes for the borough. The collaboration aims to better understand the experiences of local minority populations’ experience with prostate cancer prevention and its implications for basic research. This research is supported by community engagement pilot award from the Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC).

The REACH (Research, Engagement & Action for Community Health) program is a new CTBR initiative. CTBR’s REACH program aims to revitalize traditional community engagement activities in order to make them more impactful, more organic, and, most importantly, more accessible to the public.  Recently, REACH provided consulting services for TBHL to develop a community survey for assessing awareness of Doula services for underrepresented, disadvantaged pregnant women in the Bronx. Currently, REACH recruits patients at at Weill Cornell and Lincoln Medical Center for CTBR’s first community engaged research project focusing on Type 2 Diabetes Management among Hispanic speaking population.


kantoffBelafontePettaway 2Rebbeck
   Philip W. Kantoff   |  Harry Belafonte  | Curtis A. Pettaway | Timothy R. Rebbeck

The 29th Annual International Symposium of the Center for Translational and Basic Research (CTBR) in collaboration with the Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) at Weill Cornell Medical College will take place on Thursday May 5, 2016 at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse.

The symposium will address 
Current Advances in Prostate Cancer Health Disparities and include keynote presentations from Philip W. KantoffMD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) and Curtis A. Pettaway, MD (University of Texas, Anderson Cancer Center). Other presenters include Timothy R. Rebbeck (Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Dana Farber Cancer Institute) who will speak on "Global Disparities in Prostate Cancer: From Nucleotide to Neighborhood" and two prostate cancer survivors: Reverend Patrick H. O’Connor 
(First Presbyterian Church) and Harry Belafonte. You can find the full program on the symposium website.

Please encourage your students and lab members to submit abstracts for the symposium poster session which offers cash prize awards for the top three posters! 
Register here!


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Send us an email: ctbr[at]hunter.cuny.edu You can find archives of CTBR Newsletters here


The CTBR is supported by a Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (8 G12 MD007599) of the National Institutes of Health, the Weill Cornell Medical College Clinical & Translational Science Center (2UL1TR000457-06) of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

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