University of South Florida

USF Health research projects among 23 awarded funding to address racial issues and attitudes

The projects of three USF Health researchers are among the 23 chosen across USF to explore issues in systemic inequality, economic and health disparities, Black history and contemporary challenges for funding.

The projects were chosen by the USF Research Task Force on Understanding and Addressing Blackness and Anti-Black Racism in our Local, National and International Communities, and are part of an effort to address racial issues and attitudes on a local, national and global scale.

Below are overviews of the three USF Health projects; click here for the complete list of projects :


Exploring Unique Experiences and Needs of African American/Black Pregnant Women.

Principal Investigator: Vanessa Hux, Morsani College of Medicine

Community Partner: Tampa General Hospital

Black women have higher rates of pregnancy complications and maternal morbidity and mortality. Interpersonal and systemic discrimination may contribute to these differences though the exact mechanisms remain unclear. In this pilot study, the project explores the interpersonal and systemic experiences of Black women and their contribution to pregnancy outcomes and prenatal care. Fifty self-identified Black pregnant women in the late second to early third trimester of pregnancy will be asked to complete a survey on trauma history and gendered racial microaggressions. The researchers will also collect hair samples to measure cortisol, a hormone used to examine biologic mechanisms of stress. This pilot work will aid in characterizing the associations between trauma, microaggressions and the production of cortisol; assessing the pathways by which trauma and microaggressions influence pregnancy outcomes; and determine the specific needs and experiences of Black women in prenatal care.


Gut Microbiota Composition and Function During Pregnancy and Lactation in Rwandan Mothers.

Principal Investigator: Adetola Louis-Jacques, Morsani College of Medicine

Community Partner: Rwanda Medical Research Center

The postpartum period is a window of opportunity to address prevention of cardiometabolic diseases (CMD), a leading cause of mortality among Black women in all countries. Breastfeeding has been associated with a decreased risk of CMD. The project will investigate the impact of lactation on gut microbiota function in Rwandan mothers in the postpartum as a step towards understanding the underlying mechanism of lactation’s long-term benefits.


Increasing Job Opportunities for Young Black Fathers to Improve Child and Community Health.

Principal Investigator: Ronee Wilson, College of Public Health

Community Partner: REACHUP, Inc.

Inconsistent employment and unstable finances hinder young Black fathers’ ability to develop healthy relationships with their children. This project seeks to address unemployment and underemployment among young Black fathers by providing the infrastructure for these men to fill employability skills gaps in manufacturing industries. Through interviews with young Black fathers and human resources professionals and executives at manufacturing firms, the researcher will examine how family health practices of young fathers differ in times of stable employment compared to unemployment and underemployment; what employability skills do young Black fathers possess; and to what extent are employers actively committed to and engaged in recruiting and hiring young Black men.







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