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Family Medicine

Family Medicine


Richard G. Roetzheim, MD, MSPH

Desiree Rivers, Ph.D., MSPH

Anna Maynard Wenders

The University of South Florida and Moffitt Cancer Center were awarded a highly competitive, $6-million National Institutes of Health grant in 2009 to create a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Center of Excellence, entitled the Center for Equal Health. The five-year grant focused on research, education and training, and community outreach to reduce cancer-related health disparities among minority and underserved communities in Florida.

Richard Roetzheim, MD, MSPH, professor and director of research for the USF Department of Family Medicine, and B. Lee Green, PhD, Vice President of Moffitt Diversity, were co-directors of the Center for Equal Health. Leslene Gordon, PhD, Community Health Director for the Hillsborough County Health Department, Maria Pinzon, Executive Director for Hispanic Services Council, and Nina Entrekin, RN, retired Director of Cancer Programs, American Cancer Society were community co-directors for the Center. Desiree Rivers, PhD, MSPH was the Center Coordinator/Assistant Program Director.

USF and Moffitt have a longstanding track record of working together in the area of health disparities research. The two institutions have collaborated on several studies documenting gaps in cancer care and outcomes across ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups in Florida.

In 2013, the Florida Health Equity Research Institute (HERI) was established with the overall purpose to implement the Health Disparities Research Agenda for Florida through proactive collaborations among academic institutions, health care providers, government organizations, community-based organizations and funding organizations. HERI was established by State of Florida legislative appropriation to address the need for large multi-university, multi-disciplinary efforts to improve health disparities. Through this effort, HERI will facilitate the design of broad-based studies to address health disparities in medically underserved populations and to evaluate the outcomes consistent with the following goals:
  • Increase the development of health innovations that improve the health of medically underserved populations. 
  • Increase the translation, adaptation and implementation of evidenced-based health innovations in underserved populations. 
  • Increase the pool of individuals from underrepresented groups for the health professions and biomedical research. 
  • Increase external funding that improves economic development in the state. 
  • Increased recognition of Florida as a leader in improved health outcomes for medically underserved 
  • populations. 
The University of South is a member of the statewide institutional affiliations of HERI. Core Directors at Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida State University, University of Florida, Florida A&M University and the Central Florida Pharmacy Council administer HERI cores programs of Administration, Research, Education and Training, and Community Engagement. Desiree Rivers, PhD, MSPH is the Program Director of the Administrative Core.

For more information about HERI visit

Florida HERI 2013-14 Final Report
Florida HERI Year One Progress Report