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Health Disparities Conference Seeking Session Proposals

Wed, 06/02/2021 - 17:31pm

Mississippi Health Disparities Conference 2021

from top to bottom: Dr. Victor Sutton, Dr. Penny Ralston, Dr. Mohamed Elasri, Dr. Jennifer Lemacks, Dr. June Gipson, Dr. Thomas Dobbs

From top to bottom, left to right: Dr. Victor Sutton, Dr. Penny Ralston, Dr. Mohamed Elasri, Dr. Jennifer Lemacks, Dr. June Gipson, Dr. Thomas Dobbs

As a continuation of its mission to improve health outcomes throughout Mississippi, the Mississippi IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) will host the inaugural Mississippi Health Disparities Conference in August, bringing together medical professionals, researchers, policy makers, and community leaders to collaborate on addressing the state’s many health disparities.

Mississippi INBRE, based at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), is seeking session proposals for the conference by June 30. The conference will be held August 4, 2021, at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center in Biloxi., and sessions already scheduled include topics of rural health, obesity, diabetes, sexual health, and mental health, though all topics addressing health disparities in the state are welcomed. Dr. Mohamed Elasri, director of Mississippi INBRE, says this conference is the first of its kind in Mississippi, and it was past time to bring our thought leaders together.

“The goal is to showcase the research and work that’s been done on addressing health disparities in the state and also connect with each other,” Elasri said. “A lot of groups are doing great work, but they tend to work in isolation. This conference will allow for them to share with each other and coordinate activities.”

The idea for the Mississippi Health Disparities Conference came from a conversation between Dr. Elasri and his colleagues, Dr. Jennifer Lemacks, who serves as the director of the Mississippi INBRE Telenutrition Center, and Dr. June Gipson, who serves as director of the Mississippi INBRE Community Engagement and Training Core.

“Mississippi is infamous for poor health outcomes, and it surely isn’t because of the lack of work being done in the state to address those issues,” Lemacks said. “We should be informing the solutions to address health disparities in the Deep South, and that’s what this conference is all about.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has divulged that, as a society, the U.S. is woefully unprepared to deal with major public health emergencies. This crisis has laid bare the weakness of public health infrastructure exposing historic inequities that place certain populations, especially minority communities, at disproportionate risk for infection and premature death,” Gipson explained. “This conference creates a space that allows healthcare providers and advocates to urgently rethink, recalibrate, and reinvest in our ailing public health infrastructure as partners in health. Consistent, cross-sectional collaborations play a vital role in amplifying efforts to rebuild a robust and resilient public health infrastructure that attends to the comprehensive social and clinical needs of the communities we serve. The window of opportunity is open to create much-needed coordination that protects the health and prosperity of Mississippi communities and the nation. It is time to act together!"

The conference, which is free to all attendees, will offer workshops, research posters, evidence-based educational sessions, and an exhibitor pavilion, as well as opportunities for working group meetings. Keynote speakers include Dr. Thomas Dobbs, State Health Officer; Dr. Victor Sutton, Director of the Office of Preventative Health and Health Equity at the Mississippi State Department of Health; and Dr. Penny Ralston, Director of the Center on Better Health and Life for Underserved Populations at Florida State University. More information and conference registration can be found at

All session proposals must be submitted to as a Word document by June 30. Include “MHD2021 Proposal Submission” in the subject line.