Humana Foundation Awards Health Equity Research Grants Equal to $1 Million to Three University Partners

The Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Humana Inc.opens new window (NYSE: HUM) for the past 41 years, announced the recipients of its first-ever research grants in service of the Foundation’s health equity strategy. Awards of $250,000 each were presented to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s School of Public Health, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Social Work, and Yale University’s School of Medicine. The research undertaken by the Foundation’s university partners will examine barriers to healthy emotional connections and approaches to nutrition, and explore the relationship between these issues and chronic disease.

Humana Foundation Awards Health Equity Research Grants Equal to $1 Million to Three University Partners (Photo: Business Wire)

Humana Foundation Awards Health Equity Research Grants Equal to $1 Million to Three University Partners (Photo: Business Wire)

“The Humana Foundation is proud to support solutions-focused research that contributes to national health equity as a core part of the new strategy we announced at the beginning of the yearopens new window,” said Tiffany Benjamin, CEO of the Humana Foundation. “We’re generating knowledge that translates into practical, scalable solutions for removing the barriers that prevent people from living connected, healthy lives.”

The two research grants awarded to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, totaling $500,000, will address the Foundation’s two focus areas of nutrition and mental health and two target audiences of seniors and school-aged children. Earlier this year, UNC’s Eshelman Institute received a Humana Foundation Health Equity Innovation Fundopens new window grant in the amount of $750,000 to expand a program that pilots health and nutrition solutions brought forward by Black collegiate entrepreneurs.

Now, Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, PhD, MHA at the Gillings School of Global Public Healthopens new window will study the benefits of healthy, home-delivered meals and social connectedness programs for seniors with lower incomes. The 12-week intervention is designed to address both food security and loneliness.

“Food is an integral part of society,” said Dr. Haynes-Maslow. “It is one of the most basic human needs we require to physically thrive, but it also fulfills our social needs. Food brings people together. It is a uniter and a conversation-starter. This grant is an opportunity to examine how we can nourish socially isolated seniors’ physical and mental health.”

Dr. Hanes-Maslow’s colleague at the School of Social Workopens new window, Paul Lanier, PhD, will research the potential for youth peer leaders to improve suicide prevention programs. Dr. Lanier will identify and recruit racially and ethnically diverse peer leaders at high schools, and seek to deploy them more effectively through social network and connection analysis.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity provided by the Humana Foundation to improve youth mental health,” said Sheryl Zimmerman, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and Kenan Distinguished Professor, UNC School of Social Work. “Dr. Lanier is a nationally recognized expert in conducting rigorous research to improve children’s mental health services, and his research in prevention science will be enriched by this grant.”

New research conducted by Shreela Sharma, PhD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s School of Public Healthopens new window seeks to improve both food insecurity and health outcomes for at-risk children and their families. Dr. Sharma will examine the impact of a 32-week produce prescription program on the mental and physical health of children who are overweight or obese, and stem from low-income families.

With the final research grant, Terri R. Fried, MD, at Yale School of Medicineopens new window will develop advance care planning tools to improve mental health outcomes for caregivers of seniors living with dementia. Dr. Fried will also test whether group visits to address advance care planning has a positive impact on both caregivers’ and patients’ sense of connectedness.

The Humana Foundation’s research grants are currently open by invitation only. Organizations interested in connecting with the Foundation to discuss research opportunities should visit HumanaFoundation.orgopens new window and complete this formopens new window.

About the Humana Foundation

The Humana Foundation was established in 1981 as the philanthropic arm of Humana Inc. and is focused on health equity, working to eliminate unjust, avoidable and unnecessary barriers in health and healthcare. The Foundation fosters evidence-based collaborations and investments that help people in underserved communities live connected, healthy lives. As a steward of good health, the Foundation creates healthy emotional connections for people and communities and is shaping a healthier approach to nutrition to support lifelong well-being.

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