The Mississippi IDeA Network of Biological Research Excellence held its inaugural Mississippi Health Disparities Conference on Wednesday, August 4, 2021, at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi, MS. The conference brought together Mississippi State Department of Health officials, medical industry leaders, and students from Mississippi INBRE’s summer scholar programs for presentations, workshops, and a research poster session.

The COVID-19 pandemic added urgency to holding MHD2021. Many of the health disparities common in Mississippi increase the risk of contracting the virus and make its effects even more deadly. Mississippi ranks second in diabetes and first in obesity rates within the United States. The pandemic is just one example of why addressing these health disparities is so important. MHD2021 is a momentous step in that direction.

MHD2021 featured a presentation by Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs concerning the effect of COVID-19 on Mississippi, particularly in the light of the new Delta variant of the virus and the health disparities that make its impact so drastic on the population.

My Brother’s Keeper, INBRE’s sister organization, offered COVID-19 vaccinations to locals and conference attendees for a $50 gift card through its Open Arms Healthcare Center. In total, 335 Mississippians were vaccinated, making the event a huge success. And this is just one way that MHD2021 has made a positive impact on the health of Mississippians.

MHD2021 boasted over 300 attendees and is considered a major success in paving the way for Mississippians to address health disparities in the state. Furthermore, it helped to provide a focal point from which Mississippi medical leaders can fight the spread of COVID-19 within the state’s population.

“We’re here to create the knowledge, to develop knowledge, to disseminate it, allow researchers to help each other so we can move forward a lot faster,” stated Dr. Mohamed Elasri, director of Mississippi INBRE.

Besides Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the conference featured keynote speakers Dr. Penny Ralston, director of the Center on Better Health and Life for Underserved Populations at Florida State University, and Mississippi State Health Official Dr. Victor D. Sutton.

Click here to see photos from MHD2021.

For more information about the conference click here.