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Northeastern University Professor Receives NIH Award to Research Health Disparities Among Minority Families

Northeastern University Assistant Professor of Sociology and Human Services, Silvia Domínguez, has received the Health Disparities Research Loan Repayment (RLP) Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In exchange for a two-year research commitment by Domínguez into health issues impacting Boston’s immigrant community, the award will forgive a substantial amount of Domínguez’s educational debt.

“This award provides me not only with financial relief, but also with professional support for my two ongoing research projects into health disparities affecting minority groups,” said Domínguez. “As an ethnographer, I am particularly interested in the underlying dynamics leading to health disparities, including how violent conditions and mental health issues combined with certain economic backgrounds influence the lives of current, as well as future generations.”

Domínguez’s two primary research studies focus on understanding how domestic and neighborhood-based violence influence the mental health and economic self-sufficiency of low-income immigrant and minority families. One study, titled “Three City Study of MTO [Moving to Opportunity],” examines how relocation of minority families from very disadvantaged to less disadvantaged neighborhoods in Boston, Los Angeles and New York impacts their mental health and social circumstances. (MTO is a federal government program that helps African-American, European-American and Latin-American families relocate from very disadvantaged to less disadvantaged neighborhoods).

Domínguez’s other project under this Health Disparities RLP Award, titled “Parental Violence Consequences across Generations Leading to Stagnation in Poverty and a Variable in Health Disparities” aims to examine the family patterns that result from domestic violence and have detrimental effects on family members of consequent generations. This study will rely on data gathered by the “Welfare, Children and Families – Three City Study” project which includes the substantial history and dynamics of several families with children of 58 African-American and European-American women in Boston, San Antonio and Chicago.

Both studies have important implications for the development of social policies aimed at promoting social mobility among women and their families affected by violence. Thus, Domínguez is preparing a policy brief in conjunction with the Washington D.C.-based Urban Institute, scheduled to be released in September in time for the return of legislators. The brief will be followed by an article on the same topic.

For more information on Silvia Domínguez’ research, please contact Renata Nyul at 617-373-7424 or at

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