Research Projects

Our regional center investigates how disparities develop among Latinos and uses that information to create solutions. Read more about our research projects.

Current Projects

We have several research studies going on at sites across Southern California. Current projects include:

Project 1: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Early Life Social, Environmental, and Nutritional Determinants of Disease (El Sendero)

Project 1 assesses a group of Latino 6-year-old children in Southern California. As infants, these children participated in one of two studies with Center Director Dr. Michael: MAMITA and Mother’s Milk. The Mother’s Milk study aims to determine how the diet of breastfeeding Latino moms affects the health of their babies and to identify how early-life dietary exposures (dietary sugars, breastfeeding, and Human milk oligosaccharides) affect infant gut microbiome development, and how this, in turn, influences the development of obesity, cognition, and appetite regulation in early life. The MAMITA study is a home education and water delivery program for breastfeeding Hispanic mothers aimed to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and juices (SSB/J) during the post-partum period and to the introduction of sugary beverages to infants. This previous study looked at environment, diet and other factors during infancy.

The El SENDERO study follows a cohort of Latino/a/x children in Los Angeles to examine the contributions of early-life nutrition, exposure to environmental toxins, air pollution, and social determinants of health on subclinical markers of obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and high lipid levels at 6 years of age. These exposures include:

  • Diet
  • Education access
  • Financial stability
  • Health care access
  • Neighborhood and environment
  • Social and community support

Learn how you can get involved with our research:
Carla Flores
Phone: 323-361-2267
Se habla español

Project 2: University of California San Diego

Families, Responsibility, Education, Support, Health, for Latino Caregivers (FRESH-LC)

This project enrolls Latino families in Southern California with an overweight or obese child. The study tries two different interventions, or strategies, to improve the child’s health. Both strategies use telehealth to offer education online.

The Family, Responsibility, Education, Support, Health For Latino Caregivers (FRESH-LC) study develops a culturally tailored parent-based treatment (PBT) for childhood obesity delivered to multiple caregivers for Latino families (PBT-AC). FRESH-LC integrates frameworks, such as social cognitive theory and family systems theory, as well as cultural tailoring and familisimo, with a focus on feeding behaviors, eating, and physical activity for weight loss among Latino families with a child OW/OB.

Learn how you can get involved with our research:
Eduardo Castro
Phone: (858) 899-1565 and (858) 210-9260
Se habla español

Project 3: Kaiser Permanente

Food Prescriptions to Promote Affordable Diets That Meet RDAs Among Multi-Generational Latino Households

This project gives a meal plan and grocery delivery service to Latino families in Southern California. These meal plans, called “food prescriptions,” last for 6 months and target families at risk for obesity and related conditions. 

The food prescriptions aim to improve diet and reduce risk for obesity and related chronic diseases. Families in the study receive recipes, meal plans and groceries weekly. They learn how to cook meals they can make again in the future. 

The meal plans are culturally sensitive and affordable. They include food commonly eaten in Latino communities, along with food from cultures around the world. And the food is affordable on a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) budget. The project shows it is possible to eat healthy food that meets recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) on a low income.

Learn how you can get involved with our research:
Galina Inzhakova
Phone: (626) 564-7752

Historically, research on chronic diseases focused on non-diverse, white populations. At the Southern California Center for Latino Health, our projects directly assess and engage with Latino children and families. Each year, the Center awards $50,000 for up to 8 new studies to advance our mission.

Advanced Technology

Our research projects use several state-of-the-art technologies, including:

  • Continuous blood glucose (sugar) monitoring to measure diabetes risk in children
  • Imaging techniques that measure body composition (bone, muscle and fat)
  • Minimally invasive and kid-friendly blood tests that can be performed at home

Center Cores

We have several Cores (shared resources) within the Center that provide expertise for different parts of our work. These include:

  • Community Engagement Core: Strengthens relationships among researchers, local organizations, medical providers, community members, policymakers and other key stakeholders. These groups work together to identify local and community-driven strategies to address chronic health disparities among Latinos. 
  • Investigator Development Core: Recruits and supports early-career researchers from diverse backgrounds who focus on community-engaged research to further advance research on Latino health disparities and other relevant health disparities. View 2022 Pilot Projects.
  • Administrative Core: Manages the Center and all studies projects to ensure the success, scientific rigor, and community and societal aspects of the Center. Also supervises the Methods and Data Sub-Core, which focuses on data coordination and harmonization.

Combined Data

Our research occurs at different sites across the region, but we collect similar data at each location using the same techniques. That way, we can add each study’s data to a single database. 

This database allows us to analyze the findings altogether. The larger sample size will better represent the Latino population. 

The Methods and Data Sub-Core oversees data collection at each study site and manages the common database.