School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine


The Wayne State University (WSU) Center for Urban and African American Health is an NIH funded program consisting of a number of research projects and core facilities, with participation of 34 investigators from various Departments, Centers, and Programs across the WSU campus. The Center has invested heavily in coalescing and expanding a shared research infrastructure that is widely accessible to investigators. The three Projects are:

  • Project 1: Obesity, Nitric Oxide, Oxidative Stress and Salt Sensitivity
  • Project 2: Weight Loss in Breast Cancer Survivors
  • Project 3: A Dyadic Intervention for Cardiac Rehabilitation Patients

These Projects are thematically linked through obesity, diet and other lifestyle factors including physical activity, and obesity-related cardiovascular disease and cancer. Our research efforts are focused on understanding the mechanisms operating at multiple levels (environment, lifestyle, physiology, genetics) mediating known disparate chronic conditions and their precursors. We also seek to identify preventive strategies and therapeutic approaches that might alleviate the disproportionate burden of disease. Primary as well as interactive effects of environmental exposures (household and community-level) and psycho behavioral characteristics with physiological measures (e.g., 24-hour BP burden and oxidative stress), genes, and body composition will be explored in relation to their impact on study outcomes.

The five Cores represent specialized areas of expertise and services required to undertake testing of multi-level hypotheses related to research in racial health disparities. These Cores allow the investigators to test a broader range of Project-specific study hypotheses in a more cost-efficient manner than would be possible with stand-alone Projects. The Cores are:

  • Administrative
  • Psychosocial and Community Measures
  • Recruitment and Clinical Measures
  • Biostatistics and Research Database
  • Genomics

African Americans were selected as a primary focus for the Center because of their high burden of obesity-related disease such as breast cancer and cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, heart failure, diabetes mellitus, and coronary heart disease). Also, while Detroit has the third largest population of African Americans, it has the highest percentage (81.6%) of African Americans of any major city in the USA.