Historical Overview of the Institute

One of the most pressing problems in metropolitan Buffalo is the problem of health disparities, especially in African Americans who live in five ZIP codes on the East Side of Buffalo (14204, 14206,14211, 14212,14215). They are more likely to have serious, chronic, and often preventable diseases with a rate of premature mortality that is ~300% higher than Whites who live in the Buffalo metro area. Much of this health inequity results from the social determinants of health, which include underdeveloped neighborhoods, failing schools, high unemployment, low property values, poor access to public transportation, absence of grocery stores, lead contamination in homes, highway pollution, brownfields, and poor access to healthcare.

The UB Community Health Equity Research Institute is created in response to this crisis with a goal to perform research to advance understanding of the root causes and develop and test innovative solutions to eliminate health inequities in the region.

The Institute is founded on the principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR), an approach that engages the community as true partners in research, including driving the research agenda, participating in the design and conduct of research and benefiting from the results.

The Institute builds on the work of the African American Health Equity Task Force formed in 2014 and led by local pastors, and which includes UB faculty, community leaders, community residents, advocates and healthcare professionals. Because health disparities research spans multiple disciplines, faculty from all 12 UB schools are invited to participate to form the multidisciplinary research teams that will be required to perform state-of-the art science to accomplish our ambitious goals.

Health Disparities in Buffalo

African Americans who live in Buffalo, NY (39% of 258,000) have far poorer health, on average, than Whites living in either the City or the greater Buffalo metropolitan area.

Three in five African Americans living in Buffalo die prematurely, twice the rate of Whites.

African Americans have higher hospitalization rates for most major diagnoses including cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes), congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

Much of the Black/White health inequity is due to social determinants, the conditions into which people are born, and in which they develop, live, work, play and worship. These conditions are different for African Americans compared to Whites living in the Buffalo metro area because of decades of federal and local policies that created racial residential and educational segregation and disinvestment in communities of color. African Americans in Buffalo live in neighborhoods where employment opportunities are fewer, housing stock is of worse quality, lead exposure is greater, neighborhoods are less walkable, there is less access to healthy food, schools are poorer quality, and recreational facilities are poorer quality.