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Edda Rodriguez, doctoral student of Prevention Science and Community Health in the Department of Public Health Sciences, at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has been awarded a Diversity Supplement Grant from the National Institute of Mental Health

As a Latina doctoral student, Edda Rodriguez, as well as countless others, have experienced the professional and personal difficulties faced by minorities in the United States. Her doctoral training is helping her to overcome these difficult moments and providing her with the skills needed to serve minority communities. Through her training Edda has learned the importance of finding a good mentoring team that is committed to supporting students from underserved communities.

Despite improvements in scientific research, and information, research opportunities are not equally available to all. As per NIH’s website, they encourage institutions to diversify their student, post doctorate, as well as faculty populations to enhance the involvement of individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences.

The awarded Diversity Supplement Grant will aid Edda develop a career development plan, and she will report progress every year after the 2 years maximum duration.

Dr. Mariano Kanamori, Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, states the division is helping Edda “overcome educational barriers by providing a tailored training program based on her research interest.” Edda’s training in Dr. Kanamori’s laboratory, focuses on implementation science, where she serves as the student-lead for Dr. Kanamori’s NIMH funded Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) project, FINISHING HIV. This innovative project seeks to enhance PrEP initiation among Latino men who have sex with men (LMSM) by targeting LMSM regardless of sexual self-identity. FINISHING HIV is the first EHE project to employ a university and pharmaceutical chain (CVS Health) partnership to expand the reach of PrEP interventions.

Edda has also demonstrated leadership severing as the Delta Omega Vice president from 2021 to 2022, and now Delta Omega President from 2022 to 2023.

The Purpose

The purpose of the parent R01 PrEParados (Spanish for “prepared”) is to determine how friendship, sexual and venue-based networks impact PrEP encouragement, initiation, and adherence. This R01 is currently being implemented in South Florida, which is the epicenter of the HIV epidemic in the US, with Latino men who have sex with men (LMSM).

“As a Latina, I am committed to understanding the social determinants of health and reducing Latino HIV and mental health disparities” conveyed Edda.

The Goal

“This diversity supplement will amplify my psychology and public health scientific background through the proposed rigorous training and mentorship provided by Drs. Kanamori, Carrico, Professor of Public Health Sciences and Psychology at DPHS, Doblecki-Lewis, and Safren” said Edda, as she explained her training aims. Drs. Kanamori, Carrico, Director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health, Doblecki-Lewis, and Safren are leaders in their fields. They have expressed their commitment to providing Edda with a high-caliber and rigorous training program.

Aim 1: Provide her with a framework to conduct research to understand and describe the nature and extent to which HIV and mental health disparities occur as well as to comprehend the etiology and potential factors associated with disparities in accessing PrEP and mental health services with an emphasis on LMSM.
Aim 2: Enhance her knowledge of relevant perspectives, practices, and problems in bundled mental health and PrEP randomized clinical trials.
Aim 3: Train her in cutting-edge social network analytical skills to fully leverage her ability to understand the social mechanisms driving independent and combined effects of individual and service network influences.

Aim 4: Prepare her to apply for an F31 grant and build the foundation for applying for a K99/R00 and subsequent full-time academic appointment at a nationally recognized academic institution.

“This diversity supplement will provide me with the background knowledge needed to submit an F31 application (short-term goal) and a K99/R00 application (medium-term goal). Dr. Kanamori has successfully completed an K99/R00 and both Drs. Kanamori and Carrico have mentored students through the submission and execution of F31 grants,” said Edda.

“These training grants are needed to fulfill my long-term goal of pursuing an independent academic career in which I develop innovative social network-based randomized clinical trials that facilitate enrollment in bundled PrEP and mental health programs for LMSM” she concluded.

Edda's map

Edda Rodriguez’s career development path, developed in coordination with her sponsors and advisors.

Dr. Kanamori mentioned, “This Diversity Supplement is the first step in Edda’s NIH funded career development. Her intellectual maturity, ability to conceptualize research and training projects, and her previous work experience implementing public health programs in Florida Department of Health makes her one of my best doctoral students. I am sure that she will be a Latinx leader playing a major role in reducing health disparities faced by her community.”

Written by Deycha Torres Hernández
Published on May 24, 2022