UCLA has formed the UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America, where faculty and students from multiple disciplines will work with other institutions to conduct research, develop training programs and promote innovative policy solutions aimed at addressing key social and health-related issues in the region.
"As a public university, UCLA has a duty to address the world's challenges, and our cross-disciplinary strengths in medicine, public health, humanities, social sciences, research and public policy position us to make a difference," said UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh. "We have strong ties to Latin America and welcome the opportunity to strengthen our collaborations with other academic institutions, nonprofit groups and nongovernmental organizations in the region. The UCLA Blum Center is a team effort that draws faculty and students from across campus who are committed to redressing issues of poverty and health in Latin America."
Dr. Michael Rodriguez, professor and vice chair of research in the department of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, will serve as the center's director.
"The programs of this new center reflect our mission to work collaboratively with a wide range of UCLA disciplines, as well as Latin American partnering institutions, to identify and promote solutions in health policy and practice," Rodriguez said. "We expect to build the center into a preeminent authority in our three focus areas — research, policy and training on the social determinants contributing to health inequalities in Latin American populations."
The center's inaugural event, a symposium titled "Informing Responses to Reduce Poverty and Improve Health in Latin America," will be held on campus on Wednesday, May 1. The symposium will feature speakers and panels examining the social and economic factors that contribute to stratification and subsequent health inequalities; differences in approaches to these inequalities; innovative policy and programmatic solutions to reduce poverty and health inequalities; and potential areas for government investments in public health expenditures.
Symposium details and registration information are available on the UCLA Blum Center website.
The center's educational programs — a core component of its mission — to date include the UCLA Freshman Cluster Program "Poverty and Health in Latin America," which enrolled more than 70 undergraduates for its three-quarter series that began last fall, and the UCLA Blum Center Summer Intern Scholar Program, which offers eight-week internships for both undergraduate and graduate students, who participate in Los Angeles–based and Latin American–based field experiences. Researchers with the Blum Center are continuing to develop and refine its research programs and policy efforts.
The new center is named for Richard Blum, a University of California regent whose generosity also made possible the Blum Center for Developing Economies at both UC Berkeley and at UC Davis. Blum provided $1 million to start the UCLA center.
The UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America takes an interdisciplinary approach toward analyzing the key factors that influence poverty and the social determinants of health in Latin America, including: government practices and policies, community action, social justice, human rights, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, foreign policies and more. The center draws on the expertise of professional schools and academic units across campus, including the divisions of social sciences and humanities in the College of Letters and Science, the David Geffen School of Medicine, the Fielding School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, the Luskin School of Public Affairs, the School of Dentistry, the School of Law, the School of Nursing and many others.