The research network for north Texas physicians
By Roberto Cardarelli, D.O., M.P.H., F.A.A.F.P.
Executive Director, NorTex
The North Texas Primary Care Practice-Based Research Network, NorTex, is a young, thriving primary care Practice-Based Research Network, or PBRN, that was formed in 2005 with infrastructure development funds from the president’s office at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. Based in the Primary Care Research Institute of UNTHSC, NorTex has grown to 100-plus members comprising more than 70 clinics and providing care to a large underserved patient population. The network has a close working relationship with 12 private practices; six academic practices affiliated with UNTHSC; 15 John Peter Smith Health System community health centers; Tarrant County Public Health Department clinics; 31 outpatient clinics affiliated with Cook Children’s Health Network; and most recently, 16 Community Oriented Primary Care Centers of the Parkland Health & Hospital System. NorTex is also the designated PBRN for UT Southwestern Medical Center’s recently awarded $34 million NIH Clinical Translational Service Award. NorTex is registered with both the PBRN Resource Center and the Federation of Practice-Based Research Networks.
NorTex’s mission is “to provide a forum for researchers and clinical practitioners in Texas to collaborate in research activities with the ultimate goal to improve the health of the Texas community and to contribute to our country’s scientific knowledge base.” Although young, NorTex has made significant scientific contributions to primary care through the foundations laid by its founder and director, Roberto Cardarelli, D.O., M.P.H., and talented and dedicated researchers and staff. The network is governed by a scientific review board and a community advisory board, both of which review and approve all studies proposed to NorTex to ensure scholastic integrity and public health importance. NorTex is strongly supported by the administration of UNTHSC and the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Its success is a reflection of its close collaborators within the UNTHSC School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, practicing clinicians, the John Peter Smith Health Network, the Tarrant County Public Health Department, the Cook Children’s Health Network, Parkland Health and Hospital System, and the UT Southwestern Medical Center Department of Clinical Sciences.
Current research activities focus on primary care health disparities assessing: physician-patient communication and medication adherence; psychosocial factors and their impact on cardiovascular disease; asthma disparities among the pediatric population; and physician education on current cancer-screening guidelines.
Although NorTex is a little over two years old, its researchers have secured intramural funding and extramural federal funding from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities/National Institutes of Health. Its active projects are:
- Cardiovascular Disease, Perceived Discrimination, Social Support, and Sense of Control: Understanding Biological Pathways. NIH/NCMHD 1P20MD001633-010003. (PI: Cardarelli R)
- Does race explain differences in asthma prevalence among children in Tarrant County Texas? NIH/NCMHD 1P20MD001633. (PI: Lackan N, Benz B, Jones H)
- Visceral fat and lipid and inflammatory risk factors: The role of ethnicity. University of North Texas Health Science Center EXPORT Intramural grant. (PI: Carroll J)
- Ethnic disparity in a co-occurring disorders population. University of North Texas Health Science Center EXPORT Intramural grant. (PI: Nejtek V)
- Psychosocial factors and HAART adherence (Communities, Communication and Health Study). University of North Texas Health Science Center Intradepartmental grant. (PI: Cardarelli R)
NorTex has been fortunate to present at various national conferences, including the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine National Conference, the North American Congress of Epidemiology Conference, the American Medical Association Medical Student Conference, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Practice-Based Research Networks Annual Meeting. The network currently has several publications in press or under review and plans to be very active during the 2007-08 year with conference presentations, preparing manuscripts and starting new projects.
NorTex has multiple systems of communication with its members and participating practices, including quarterly newsletter Primary Care Research Journal, e-mail, listserv and conference calls. NorTex is currently planning to host it first convocation of practices conference in 2008-09. In addition, the network uses its Web site, www.hsc.unt.edu/NorTex, to update members on its current activities. For more information about NorTex, please visit our Web site or contact the network coordinator, Anna Espinoza, M.D., at email@example.com or (817) 735-2625.