The Health Disparities Research Center of Excellence at Meharry (HDRCOE) was established in May 2009 under the leadership of Dr. Paul Juarez.  The overarching goals of the Center were to:

(1) demonstrate the efficacy of a systems framework for conducting health services research that address multi-level determinants of health disparities among racial/ethnic minorities;

(2) provide trans-disciplinary mentoring, support, and training of research scientists in conducting health disparities research designed to prevent or delay the onset of diseases and conditions that disproportionately affect minority health;

(3) establish academic and community partnerships to develop, implement, translate, and disseminate discoveries from health disparities research into real world, clinical, public health, and public policy practice; and

(4) reduce health disparities among racial/ethnic minorities in Nashville/ Davidson County.

In 2011, the Center received a supplemental award from the EPA to establish an environmental health disparities research core. This application proposed to further environmental public health research by:

(1) focusing on health disparities that contribute disproportionately to premature death and morbidity found among poor and racial/ethnic minorities;

(2) expanding the definition of environment to include built, social, and policy environments, in addition to the natural environment;

(3) employing High-Throughput Analysis (HTA), spatial analyses, and multi-level analyses to increase our understanding of the relationships between health and environmental factors at the state, county, and sub-county levels, over time;

(4) conducting trans-disciplinary training on environmental health disparities; and

(5) engaging health disparities communities in the research endeavor through PPGIS and interactive  mapping.

In 2012, under the leadership of Dr. Patricia Matthews Juarez, the HDRCOE established the inaugural M. Alfred Haynes Research Training Institute on Social Equity (MAHRTISE). To date, 27 early stage investigators from across the country have completed the course.

Beginning in 2012, Center affiliated investigators began to publish a series of seminal papers and to present at scholarly meetings on the environmental context of health disparities, using a public health exposome approach.



Juarez, PD. The Health Disparities Exposome Project: Incorporating Environment into Health Disparities Research. Center for Reducing Health Disparities, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE. March 28, 2012.

Juarez, PD. Public Health Exposome Project: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Promoting EJ and Eliminating Health Disparities. Region 4 Environmental Justice Conference, EPA. Atlanta, GA, Aug. 16, 2012.

Juarez, PD & Im, W.  Public Participatory Mapping to Reduce Health Disparities in Tennessee. GIS-Pro 2012: URISA’s 50th Annual Conference for GIS Professionals. Portland, OR, Oct. 2012.

Juarez, PD. The Meharry Public Health Exposome Project: Towards Eliminating Health Disparities. APHA. San Francisco. Oct. 2012.

Juarez, PD. The Public Health Exposome. Panel presentation, 2012 Summit on the Science of Eliminating Health Disparities, National Harbor, MD. Dec. 2012.



Juarez, PD. Cumulative Exposures: The Role of Epidemiology in Elucidating Environmental Contributions to Health Disparities. Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice Meeting.  Research Triangle, NC. July 2013.

Juarez, PD. Using GIS: Implications for Research in Health Disparities and Environmental Justice. Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice Meeting.  Research Triangle, NC. July 2013.

Juarez, PD, Special Emphasis Panel. NIEHS P42 Superfund Hazardous Substances Research & Training Review Centers. Chapel Hill, NC. Oct. 2013.

Juarez, PD.  The Public Health Exposome: Implications for Health Disparities Research.  Invited Speaker, U.S. EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program (SHCRP). November 12, 2013.

Juarez, P.D. (2013).  Sequencing the Public Health Genome. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.  Supplement: Achieving Health Equity and Environmental Justice. 24(1). 114-120. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2013.0035.

Juarez, PD. Environmental Context of Violent Crime. (2013). In:  Epidemiologic Criminology: Theory to Practice, Waltermaurer, Eve & Akers, Tim, (Eds.). United Kingdom: Routledge.

Chen, C.K., Bruce, M., Tyler, L., Brown, C., Garrett, A., Goggins, S., Lewis-Polite, B., L Weriwoh, M., Juarez, P.D., Hood, D.B. (2013). Analysis of an Environmental Exposure Health Questionnaire in a Metropolitan Minority Population Utilizing Logistic Regression and Support Vector Machines. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 24, 154–172. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2013.0046.



Juarez, PD. Health Disparities & the Public Health Exposome: Zip Code not Genetic Code. Presentation at the Seventh Health Disparities Conference, Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA. March 10-12, 2014.

Juarez, PD, Peer Review Panel, Environmental Quality Index – Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle, NC. July 2014.

Langston, M.A.; Levine, R.S.; Kilbourne, B.J.; Rogers, G.L. Jr.; Kershenbaum, A.K.; Baktash, S.H.; Coughlin, S.S.; Saxton, A.S.; Agboto, V.; Hood, D.B.; Litchveld, M.Y.; Oyana, T.; Matthews-Juarez, P.; Juarez, P.D. (2014). Scalable Combinatorial Tools for Health Disparities Research.  Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 11(10):10410-10413.

Kershenbaum, A.D.; Langston, M.A.; Levine, R.S.; Saxton, A.M.; Oyana, T.J.; Kilbourne, B.J.; Rogers, G.L.; Gittner, L.S.; Baktash, S.H.; Matthews-Juarez, P.; Juarez, P.D. Exploration of preterm birth rates using the public health exposome database and computational analysis methods. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 2014. 11(12), 12346-12366; doi:10.3390/ijerph111212346.

Juarez, P.D.; Matthews-Juarez, P.; Hood, D.; Im, M.; Levine,R.S.; Kilbourne, B.J.; Langston, M.A.; Alhamdan, M.Z.; Crosson, W.L.; Estes, M.G.; Estes, S.; Agboto, V.; Robinson, P.; Wilson, S.; Lichtveld M.Y. The Public Health Exposome: A Population-based, Exposure Science Approach to Health Disparities Research. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014. 11(12), 12866-12895. doi:10.3390/ijerph111010444. 

Crosson W, Al-Hamdan M, Kilbourne B, Langston M, Rogers G, Keshenbaum A, Kilbourne K, Juarez PD, Baktash S, Levine R. Heart disease mortality, fine particulate matter air pollution, and heat in US counties, American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition, New Orleans, Nov. 2014.



Juarez, PD, Matthews-Juarez, P, Hood, DB, Kilbourne, B, Baktash, SH, Rogers, GL, Saxton, AM, Langson, MS. Black:White Disparities in Lung Cancer Mortality: Applying Big Data Analytics and an Exposome Approach. The Grand Challenge, Health Data Sciences Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2015.

Juarez, PD & Matthews-Juarez, P.  Invited Panel. The Public Health Exposome: A systems approach towards understanding the spatial/temporal dynamics of environmental exposures, adverse health outcomes, and cancer health disparities. Spring 2015 Symposium: The Cancer Exposome: Innovation at the Intersection of Environmental Exposure & Disease Pathways. Duke Cancer Institute, Duke Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program, and Duke Superfund Research Center. Duke University, Durham, NC. Friday, April 3, 2015

Juarez, PD., Special Emphasis Panel, NIEHS P50 Children’s Environmental Health Centers. Arlington VA, April 2015.

Juarez, PD. Invited Speaker. The Public Health Exposome: Research Implications for Latino Health. Latino Health Equity Conference. Long Beach, CA. April 17, 2015.

Juarez, PD., Special Emphasis Panel, NIEHS Children’s Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR) Data Repository, Analysis, and Science Center (U2C), Research Triangle, NC, June 2015. 

Juarez, PD. Invited Speaker. The Exposome: a new Science of Health Disparities Paradigm. NIEHS Exposure Science and the Exposome Webinar Series, Tuesday, September 29, 2015,



Oyanna, T.J.; Matthews-Juarez, P.; Cormier, S.A.; Xu, X.; Juarez, P.D. Using an External Exposome Framework to Examine Pregnancy-Related Morbidities and Mortalities: Implications for Health Disparities Research. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(1), 13; doi:10.3390/ijerph13010013.

Clark, R.S., Pellom, S.T.; Booker, B.; Ramesh, A.; Zhang, T.; Shanker, A.; Maguire, M.; Juarez, P.D.;

Matthews-Juarez, P.; Langston, M.A.; Lichtveld, M.Y.; Hood, D.B. Validation of research trajectory 1 of an Exposome framework: Exposure to benzo(a)pyrene confers enhanced susceptibility to bacterial infection. Environmental Research, 2016. 146:173-184.

Juarez, PD. Appointment, Etiology of Health Disparities: Biological and Environmental Mechanisms Panel, NIMHD Science Vision of Health Disparities Research.  NIMHD/NIH.  March 2016 – present.