• May 19, 2022
 UTEP Associate Professor Awarded $5.1 Million to Tackle Region’s Health Disparities

UTEP Associate Professor Awarded $5.1 Million to Tackle Region’s Health Disparities

Thenral Mangadu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of public health sciences at The University of Texas at El Paso, has received $5.1 million in federal grants to address multiple health-related disparities in the Paso del Norte region through a community-engaged approach.

Mangadu has secured three competitive grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and one from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).

The funds will support programs and services in mental health, substance use disorder (SUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery, including residential treatment, family support services, HIV prevention, and sexual assault and violence prevention.

“Thanks to the funding support from SAMHSA and the OVW, UTEP and our community partners are able to address the collective health needs of individuals in our community,” said Mangadu, who joined UTEP as a research associate in 2008. She became a faculty member in 2012.

“Along with providing much-needed health services, we plan to focus on the foundational risk factors that contribute to substance abuse, mental health and violence-related health disparities while negatively impacting the health span of our priority populations.”

In September, SAMHSA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded Mangadu $2.5 million to provide comprehensive substance abuse prevention, treatment and support services for 500 pregnant and postpartum women, children and family members in partnership with Aliviane Inc.’s Women and Children’s Residential Center.

The agency also provided Mangadu $375,000 to train UTEP first responders on mental health first aid, a national program that teaches the skills to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance use. Trainees will include campus law enforcement, police dispatchers and University personnel. Aliviane Inc. will collaborate in training implementation.

These awards were preceded by a $1.9 million SAMHSA grant Mangadu received in August to reduce HIV infections among Hispanics with serious mental illness or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

Over the next four years, UTEP will collaborate with Project Vida Health Center, Aliviane Inc., Southwest Viral Med and Sunset ID Care to provide culturally competent substance use disorder, mental health, and HIV and Hepatitis C primary care and prevention services to 2,500 individuals. Services will include case management, peer support and outreach activities.

“We are excited about our continued collaboration with UTEP and Dr. Mangadu,” said Ivonne Tapia, Aliviane Inc.’s chief executive officer.

“Our partnership is a testament that community organizations and institutions of higher learning work well together to ease real life struggles in our region. Aliviane and UTEP have joined forces to increase access to substance abuse support services for pregnant and postpartum minority women and their families, and increase access to culturally competent service integration models for mental health, substance abuse and HIV primary care. It has been a great pleasure for us to collaborate with Dr. Mangadu and her team, and we hope that we can continue to have a positive impact in the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community. I look forward to advancing the educational experience of UTEP students who will participate in these grants as well as the life-changing experiences of our clients who will experience these quality services when they come to Aliviane.”

Also in August, the OVW awarded UTEP $299,999 to continue the University’s coordinated community response initiative to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus.

Led by Mangadu since 2015, the initiative involves the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence (CASFV); El Paso District Attorney’s office; UTEP Police Department, UTEP CARE: Center for Advocacy, Resources and Education; and the UTEP Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR).

They collaborate to raise awareness about sexual violence prevention, victim services, law enforcement programs and campus and community events through social media.

“Dr. Mangadu’s research, as well as the type of research our faculty undertake within the College of Health Sciences more generally, is focused on our commitment to improving quality of life in our communities, particularly our most vulnerable populations who suffer a disproportionately higher risk of health challenges,” said College of Health Sciences Dean Shafik Dharamsi, Ph.D.

“This type of research is focused on social impact and specifically designed to address health disparities. Dr. Mangadu works tirelessly to improve health and reduce inequities in this region, and the funding she is receiving is a strong testament to that.”

Mangadu’s research interests include SUD and HIV prevention for minority populations, violence prevention, global health and public health program evaluation.

Mangadu received a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences from UTEP in 2010. She earned a master’s degree in public health from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in medical sciences from Rajah Muthiah Medical College in Tamil Nadu, India.

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