About Us

Our Vision: That Health Equity Research is a priority supported by all elements of the University of Vermont community and beyond. That Health Equity Research becomes a pillar of academic and instructional excellence which is incorporated in all facets of clinical care, education, and scholarship.

Our mission: to build and support a productive and inclusive community of investigators who participate in Health Equity Research.

Our objective: to provide a source of information, mentoring, collaboration, and support for obtaining external funding.

Diversity: We acknowledge that academic medicine and science are part of a system that is inherently supportive of a single racial, religious, cis-gendered and male identified group, and that this has resulted in centuries of discrimination, neglect, and harm to both those within and dependent on the work of our practitioners.  We seek to help build diversity, equity and justice through:

Education of and engagement with our community about health inequity, systemic racism, and discrimination and the role played by academic medicine in these processes.

Increasing both the numbers and efficacy of diverse people doing this work.

Outward and inward diversity both in our daily work and in our relationship with the outside world

We recognize all elements of diversity within our community: race, ethnicity, country of origin, language-learning status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, economic and educational status, age, religion, or physical, cognitive and emotional ability.

We are faculty and administrative staff who in 2020 saw a need for enhanced Health Equity Research in LCOM.  The idea started with a phone call asking if we knew someone in the University community who could serve as a collaborator for junior faculty in this area. Surveys and focus groups with potentially interested faculty were performed between 2020 and 2021 and analysis of that data suggested an increase in the infrastructure available to support this work. Although Health Equity Research is not the primary focus of all our work, we strongly believe that support of this work in critical in building a more diverse, inclusive, and safe environment for our patients, trainees, staff, and faculty.

Relevant publications and communications:

Velez, C.M. & Ávila, M.M. Historical Context Matters: Structural Racism, Maternal Health & Reproductive Justice, In Hernandez, N. (Ed.) Practical Playbook III: Working Together to Improve Maternal Health, Section: Equity and Systemic Racism (2022) Oxford University Press. 

McFadden M, Velez CM, Ávila MM. Pregnant Migrant Latinas at the US Border: A Reproductive Justice Informed Analysis of ICE Health Service Policy During "Zero-Tolerance". J Hum Rights Soc Work. 2022 Oct 8:1-12. doi: 10.1007/s41134-022-00227-y. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36248346; PMCID: PMC9546749. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36248346/

Maria Mercedes Avila, Christine Begay Vining, Joshuaa Allison-Burbank, and Christine Velez. Health Equity for Abenaki Indigenous People: Improving Access to Quality Mental Health and Substance Use Services. Health Equity. Oct 2022. 787-793. http://doi.org/10.1089/heq.2022.0091 https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/heq.2022.0091

Wheeler S, Bryant, Bonney EA, Howell, E SMFM Special Statement: Race in maternal-fetal medicine research. In Press, Am J Obstet Gynecol 2021 Nov 11:S0002-9378(21)01218-7.

Bonney EA, Elovitz MA, Mysorekar IU.  Diversity is essential for good science and reproductive science is no different: A Response to the recent formulation of the Burroughs Welcome Fund Pregnancy Think-Tank. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2020 Aug 10;S0002-9378(20)30838-3.  doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2020.08.012.

Bonney EA et al. The Society for Reproductive Investigations’ Response to the Death of George Floyd https://www.sri-online.org/about-sri/diversity--inclusion. 2020.

Avila, M., Beatson, J. & Kamon, J. (2015) Addressing Health Disparities through Cultural and Linguistic Competency Training, Journal of Cultural Diversity: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Maria Avila

Dr. Mercedes Avila, our leader, is also the director of VT Lend, the Vermont Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program

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Send an email with your picture and bio to our webmaster, Sharon