Education And Outreach - Education - Health Disparities Education

Addressing Institutional Contributions to Health Disparities

The Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics is pioneering the application of nutrigenomic information for health care professionals, scientists, and patients through its program in Cultural Humility. The principles and goals of cultural Humility are to encourage health professionals and staff of all job descriptions to work with the issues of culture and difference in health and research using several principles: self-reflection, lifelong learning, patient focused interviewing and care, community expertise, redressing power imbalances in patient-provider relationships and calls for a parallel process within health institutions that models and supports these principles in policies and practices. Since genomic research has developed an international scope, these same principles apply to undergraduate researchers to principal investigators.

The Cultural Humility Learning Modules

  • Social, cultural, political and economic history of ethnic groups

  • Health beliefs/concepts using patient-based explanatory models of illness/wellness

  • Cultural perspectives on specific biomedical illness/wellness categories

  • Health promotion/advocacy that is community-informed

  • Communication skills for health practitioners, workers, and researchers

  • The ultimate goal of cultural humility awarenss is to transform behaviors and skills in health care and research.

Progress in 2005

In conjunction with Dr. Melanie Tervalon, director of the Center's Education Core and the Administration and Bioinformatics (BRSC) Cores, developed a course entitled: Exploring Genes, Race, Ethnicity, Community and Health in the 21st Century.  The course was jointly offered by the Section of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB198, R.L. Rodriguez co-instructor of record) and Chicano/a Studies Program (CHI299, A. de la Torre, co-instructor of record) during the Spring Quarter 2005.  Dr. Tervalon served as course instructor and coordinator.  


The objectives of this course are to:

  • describe the concepts of nutritional genomics, culture, race, racism, ethnicity, cultural competence, cultural humility, health disparities, health inequities and their use in the biological, social sciences and community practice,

  • recognize the content of bias, discrimination and stereotyping in academic work, research and community practice,

  • identify and describe the application and consequences of using these concepts in biomedical and socials science research in the arena of health disparities,

  • hear community opinions about collaboration, partnership, trust and participation in clinical research trials,

  • begin to strategize solutions to the elimination of health disparities that join the leadership in the fields of biology, social sciences and community practice and

  • adapt the content of this material to your particular discipline or area of expertise. 


In addition to the Center director, Drs. Beckman and Gonzalez-Burchard also participated in the course.  With the help of a $10,000 grant from UC Davis MediaWorks, all presentations were videotaped and with the help of the BSRC, a series of DVD modules were prepared.  These DVD modules are being used by Dr. Tervalon at the Children's Hospital of Oakland as part of a yearlong course for residents and interns.  With the help of the BSRC, these modules will be adapted for streaming video for online instruction in 2006.