Gulf Coast communities have faced decades of interdependent challenges directly affecting their individual health and that of their communities: lack of preparedness against natural disasters and the impact of those disasters on physical and mental health well-being; persistent health disparities specifically related to chronic health conditions such as cancer and asthma in addition to birth outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight; and historical environmental contamination exacerbated by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, and Isaac, as well as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
While progress has been made in documenting those challenges, the solutions to date have employed narrow, "silo-driven" research designs, lacked a community-based participatory approach, and failed to produce sustainable ecological, system-driven solutions. In response to these preventable health challenges, the Center brings together outstanding community partners and academic and public health institutions in collaborative partnerships. The research program is framed by three interdependent "domains" threatening the health of Gulf Coast communities: disaster preparedness, health disparities, and environmental health.
The target population for the Center's research portfolio is women of reproductive age and children living in Gulf Coast Louisiana parishes, a region that has experienced severe adverse environmental consequences in the aftermath of disaster. These areas include a broad spectrum of economically disadvantaged and minority populations with historic health disparities.