Director's Message 

Headshot of Sabrina Oesterle, PhD, SIRC Director

January 2020

Welcome to the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center's website!

I am delighted to join SIRC as its new Director and to continue our efforts to realize SIRC’s vision to prevent, reduce, and eliminate health disparities by generating and disseminating science-based knowledge and interventions in close partnership with communities of the Southwest.

I am particularly excited to do this work in collaboration with SIRC’s long-standing and committed Community Advisory Board to assure that our research is informed by the needs and cultures of the communities of the Southwest and achieves equitable outcomes for children, families, and communities.

Integral to SIRC’s excellence in community-based health disparities research are two of SIRC’s offices, the Office of Evaluation and Partner Contracts, directed by Dr. Wendy Wolfersteig, and the Office of Refugee Health, directed by Dr. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, the nation’s leading expert on female genital cutting (FGC).

In partnership with local, city, county, state and national non-profit, governmental agencies, SIRC’s Office of Evaluation and Partner Contracts performs evaluations and disseminates findings that support effective research-based interventions aimed at preventing, reducing and eliminating health disparities.

The Office of Refugee Health supports culturally grounded interventions in partnership with refugee and immigrant communities and local health providers while working to reduce and eliminate health inequalities and cultural barriers.

I encourage you to learn more about the outstanding work of both offices on our website and to reach out to Drs Wolfersteig and Johnson-Agbakwu.

Over its almost 20-year history, SIRC has developed several efficacious school- and family-based preventive interventions, including keepin’ it REAL (kiR; Dr. Flavio F. Marsiglia, PI), a culturally grounded school-based substance use prevention intervention for middle school-aged Latino students, and Families Preparing the New Generation/Familias Preparando la Nueva Generación (FPNG), a complimentary parent training program. Both also have been adapted for urban American Indian middle school students (Living in 2 Worlds, L2W) and their parents (Parenting in 2 Worlds, P2W). We are continuing to refine, test, and expand these preventive interventions to additional health outcomes and populations to provide evidence-based solutions for the stark unmet health needs of the Southwest communities.

SIRC also houses one of the nation’s Specialized Centers of Excellence for Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities (Dr. Flavio F. Marsiglia, PI). In collaboration with the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), the Specialized Center aims to learn how to prevent cardiometabolic disease and substance abuse disorders among the health disparities populations of the Southwest.

The associated two research projects are a 5-year follow-up of a previously tested and culturally-grounded diabetes prevention program for obese Latino adolescents (Every Little Step Counts, ELSC, Dr. Gabe Shaibi, PI) and a randomized controlled trial of the incorporation of nutrition-based content into the FPNG intervention which has already been shown to prevent substance use prevention among Latino youth (FPNG+, Dr. Sonia Vega-López, PI). I encourage you to read more about these exciting projects on our website.

I hope that you visit the SIRC website often and that you will share the vision and excitement that motivates our work. We encourage you to contact us and welcome your opinions and participation as we continue to build a strong research center that generates impactful solutions to health disparities in the Southwest and beyond.