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NCCU Research Targets African-American Women

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DURHAM, N.C. — Some students at

North Carolina Central University

hope to improve health problems among African-Americans through research.

Scientific research is a field where minorities are truly in the minority, but increased interest among African-American students could narrow the gap of health disparities.

A cardiovascular disease seminar at N.C. Central University is a two-way learning experience.

"We educate them about what the disease is," Dr. Audrey Rudd, a research scientist at N.C. Central.

The audience shows the instructors how well the message got across by filling out questionnaires before and after the presentation. It is research -- the kind of thing some of these students hope to make their career.

"It allows you to think critically and analyze things on your own," graduate student Shaleka Eley said.

Typically, health research study data is collected mostly from white males. It is not known whether the same drug and treatment recommendations would be just as beneficial for specific populations, like African-American women.

Rudd said it may have a lot to do with who is doing the research.

"We as individuals, those of us doing research, we tend to focus on research that is relevant to us," she said.

Rudd hopes her work, and the future work of the students, will have an impact on the health of African-American women -- who are are a greater risk for developing and dying from heart disease or stroke.

"I think a lot of changes can be made as far as racial health disparities, especially cardiovascular disease," graduate student Margie DeBerry said.

Future research may unlock secrets about how family history, age and gender contribute to cardiovascular disease.

This group already knows the health gap will narrow if African-Americans exercise more, eat less fat and sodium, and more fruit and fresh vegetables.

"A lot of the risk factors are things we can modify, we can change," Rudd said.

N.C. Central University's Export Center is recruiting African-American study participants for cardiovascular disease research. For more information, call Dr. Audrey Rudd at (919) 530-7016.


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