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New Research Collaborative Aims at Closing Minority Health Disparities

With a Cleveland Clinic research co-laboratories award, Drs. Schmit and Mata will establish the Cleveland Clinic Latino Epidemiology (CCLE) Cohort to help close the gap in research participation and health disparities for the Latino population.


For decades, racial and ethnic minority populations have been largely underrepresented in health research studies. The result is missed opportunities to identify health disparities, investigate contributing factors of disease and evaluate strategies for improving health equity.

Cleveland Clinic researchers Stephanie Schmit, PhD, MPH, Associate Staff in the Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI), and Ignacio Mata, PhD, Assistant Staff in GMI, are changing the course of history by establishing the Cleveland Clinic Latino Epidemiology (CCLE) Cohort.

In collaboration with colleagues from the Cleveland Clinic BioRepository, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Global Center for Pathogen & Human Health Research, Cleveland Clinic Community Care (4C) and Cleveland Clinic Florida, Dr. Schmit and Dr. Mata will recruit Latino patients from Cleveland Clinic’s Ohio and Florida locations to build the initial CCLE Cohort. They will then utilize the CCLE Cohort to study the biological causes for disease risk and outcomes. Their initial focus will be on Parkinson’s disease and colorectal cancer.

“This project closely aligns with Cleveland Clinic’s core value of Inclusion and demonstrates a focused investment to engage a community that’s traditionally under-represented in biomedical research,” said Dr. Schmit.

The team has received a one-year, $100,000 research co-laboratories award from Cleveland Clinic, which is renewable for one year pending progress. Ultimately, the CCLE Cohort will serve as a resource for additional Cleveland Clinic locations, and its leaders hope it can be harnessed to investigate other disorders in Latino populations.

The CCLE Cohort will leverage Cleveland Clinic’s large patient volumes and sophisticated electronic health record to build a research infrastructure that additional institutes and locations will be able to access when conducting health disparities research in the future.

“The CCLE Cohort will be the first of its kind at Cleveland Clinic,” said Dr. Mata. “Building the cohort will require a huge team effort, which is why we’re so grateful to be partnering on this important project with colleagues from across the organization.”

The study team also includes Monica Yepes-Rios, MD, Associate Staff in 4C; Lara Jehi, MD, Chief Research Information Officer and Director of the Cleveland Clinic BioRepository; Jesse Schold, PhD, Staff in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences and the Global Center for Pathogen & Human Health Research; Hubert Fernandez, MD, Director of the Center for Neurological Restoration in Neurological Institute; Alok Khorana, MD, Vice Chair for Clinical Services and Director of the GI Malignancies Program in Taussig Cancer Institute; and Michelle Del Toro, MPH, MALS, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

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