The Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) to Reduce Inequality in Heart Disease focuses on improving the heart health and outcomes of groups and communities i.e. Regional Australians, Indigenous Australians and International Health

Global Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Training (MHIRT) Program

The Australian Catholic University is collaborating with the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies Center of Excellence for Health Disparities Research: El Centro on a training program that aims to diversify the biomedical and social/behavioural research workforce in the U.S. This program is funded through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for five years (1T37MD008647-01, PI: Gonzalez-Guarda, R.M). Ten under-represented minority undergraduate students are selected each year and receive intensive global health disparities research training. They also work as research assistants to senior researchers in collaborating institutions in Australia, Chile, Dominican Republic or Spain.


Please see below the profiles of past students from the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies that visited the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University as part of the MHIRT Probram in June 2015.  

Crystal Louise Jackson


Crystal Louise Jackson is a senior (4th-year) Nursing student and Public Health minor at the University of Miami, originally from Fort Pierce, Florida. This summer as part of the University of Miami's School of Nursing and Health Studies MHIRT program, she received full funding to receive mentorship and work closely with Professor Simon Stewart and his team on an ongoing research project involving access to healthcare among chronic heart failure and atrial fibrillation patients in regional and metropolitan Australia. After obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and Registered Nurse license, Crystal plans to attend graduate school to become a Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Fueled by the summer experience at the Mary Mackillop and her passion for nursing research, specifically maternal/child health and global health disparities, she also plans to obtain her PhD in the near future. 


Ariel Smith


My name is Ariel Smith, and I am currently a fourth year nursing student attending the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. I was born and raised in Chicago, IL with hope and ambition of becoming a health care professional. In order to exemplify significant change in our society, one must be versatile and never cease to learn and implement all knowledge gained from both formal and informal environments. The MHIRT program was not only an innovative experience; but also a life changing adventure that broadened my prospective of health, culture, and life in general.


For as long as I can remember I have always aspired to leave this earth knowing that I have impacted the life of some individual positively, and when blessed with power and knowledge to empower and encourage someone else to reach beyond personal boundaries, I will feel as if I am doing a justifiable deed in society. Through the Health Disparities Research program and all future endeavors, I dedicate my education and life to the cause of health care and Nursing.



Ja'Shondra Pouncy

Ja’Shondra Pouncy is a recent graduate of the University of Miami (May 2017), where she

earned her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering with minors in Chemistry and Public Health.

During the summer of 2016, Ja’Shondra had the opportunity to participate in a highly rigorous summer research program called the Global Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program (MHIRT) through the University of Miami’s School of Nursing and Health Studies. For eight weeks, she lived in Melbourne, Australia, and conducted a literature review through the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research on cardiovascular disease in Australian women. Under the guidance and mentorship of Professor Simon Stewart and Dr. Yasmin Ahamed, she aided them and their team in preparation for their “Hidden Hearts: Cardiovascular Risk and Disease in Australian Women Summit” held in October of 2016.


Upon completing the MHIRT program, Ja’Shondra decided that her next goal was to pursue a

Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. The MHIRT experience fueled her interest in the improvement of the health of the general population, more specifically for underrepresented minorities, through community-based programs and prevention strategies. During the summer of 2017, Ja’Shondra served as a Morehouse College Project IMHOTEP intern at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA, as a part of the Surveillance Data Platform (SDP) team within the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services (CSELS). The mission of SDP is to develop a platform of shared services for internal and external partners that 1) reduces unnecessary reporting burden and 2) improves efficiency in data service. Passionate more than ever about improving minority health and reducing health disparities through culturally competent care and health education, Ja’Shondra is set to commence her studies towards her Master of Public Health in Behavioral Science and Health Education at Emory University (Atlanta, GA) in the fall of 2017.


Margarita Ramirez

Margarita Ramirez graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing on May 2017 from the Accelerated Nursing program at the University of Miami. After obtaining her Registered Nurse license she will be working in the emergency department at Baptist Hospital in Miami. Margarita plans to attend to graduate school and is eager to this new and first time research experience. This summer she will be participating in the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) program at the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies.


She will be working with Professor Simon Stewart and his team at the Centre of Research Excellence to reduce Inequality in Heart Disease, Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. She will be helping with the CRE report that will be presented in Canberra in October 2017 on Heart Disease and she will be doing a literature review.