Media Advisory: How to achieve health equity during a global pandemic is the topic of Igniting Hope Conference

Release Date: August 12, 2020

“Part of the mission we’ve undertaken is health education in the public arena. In the middle of a pandemic, that mission becomes supercritical. ”
Kinzer Pointer, Pastor, Liberty Missionary Baptist Church and co-convener, African American Health Equity Task Force

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For years, Blacks living in certain zip codes in Buffalo have been almost three times as likely to die prematurely than whites living in other areas of the city. And that was before COVID-19.

Today’s urgent challenges of longstanding health disparities amid the COVID-19 pandemic are the focus of the annual Igniting Hope conference: Mobilizing Community Resources to Achieve Health Equity During a Global Pandemic.

Free and open to the public, the conference is co-sponsored by the University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the UB Community Health Equity Research Institute, and the Buffalo Center for Health Equity, a community organization dedicated to eliminating race, economic, and geographic-based health inequities by changing the social and economic conditions that cause illness and shorten lives.

When: 8:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020

Where: Zoom registration at

A recording of the conference will be available at

The complete agenda is here.

“Today, our nation is facing the challenge of how to make progress toward health equity while battling a global pandemic that has been particularly devastating to our communities of color,” said Timothy F. Murphy, SUNY Distinguished Professor and director of the University at Buffalo’s Community Health Equity Research Institute.

He said this the first year that the conference has been awarded funding from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. The three-year, $75,000 grant will help sustain the conference and provide support for engaging the university and the community to address health disparities in Buffalo.

The conference’s keynote speaker is Rear Admiral Richardae Araojo, (pronounced Aro-ho) PharmD, Food and Drug Administration associate commissioner for minority health and director for the FDA’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. She will discuss “The FDA Perspective: Enhancing Racial and Ethnic Minority Representation in Clinical Trials.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has worked to raise awareness on the importance of racial and ethnic minority participation in clinical trials,” said Araojo. “The FDA strongly encourages the inclusion of diverse populations, specifically racial and ethnic minorities, elderly individuals and those with medical comorbidities to ensure our decisions related to all medical products, including COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, are based on science and the available data.” 

The focus on minority recruitment in clinical trials couldn’t be more timely, said Murphy.

“We are especially pleased that Dr. Araojo can join us to share her perspective at a time when increasing the participation of underrepresented groups is so important as we face this global pandemic,” he said.

Holding a conference about health disparities with strong attendance from community members has special significance in the middle of a pandemic, according to Kinzer Pointer, pastor, Liberty Missionary Baptist Church and co-convener, African American Health Equity Task Force.

“Part of the mission we’ve undertaken is health education in the public arena,” said Pointer. “In the middle of a pandemic, that mission becomes supercritical. The more we educate people, the more we enable them to do what’s necessary to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy.”

The devastation that COVID-19 has caused throughout the nation and especially in communities of color will be covered by presentations ranging from “The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Magnifying Lens for Health Disparities” to “Covid-19, Working With the Community to Shape Better Healthcare in Light of a Pandemic.” Breakout sessions will cover the pandemic’s impact on the community in terms of mental health, employment, schooling and housing.

Other speakers include:

·       UB President Satish K. Tripathi

·       Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean of the Jacobs School

·       George Nicholas, MDiv, convener of the African American Health Equity Task Force, chair, Buffalo Center for Health Equity and pastor, Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church

·       Rita Hubbard Robinson, CEO of NeuWater Associates and associate director of the UB Community Health Equity Research Institute

·       Alan J. Lesse, MD, associate professor of medicine and senior associate dean for curriculum in the Jacobs School

·       Raul Vazquez, MD, president and CEO of G-Health Enterprises

·       Heather Orom, PhD, associate professor of community health and health behavior and associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion, School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605
Twitter: @UBmednews