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School of Public Policy Professor Luisa Blanco Awarded Subgrant to Study Diabetic Education and Care

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For more than 16 years, professor of public policy Luisa Blanco has dedicated her academic research to discovering tangible ways to improve the physical and financial wellbeing of communities across California. Recently awarded a subgrant by the National Science Foundation in partnership with St. Mary’s University (TX), Blanco will continue this work, this time with a focus on diabetic care for the Latino immigrant families in the San Antonio, Texas region.

The project entitled "Impact of Enhanced Healthcare on Labor Market Participation" consists of a 3-year strategic plan that outlines three primary phases of the project—data collection, implementation, and analysis of findings. Blanco will work closely with principal investigator, Belinda Román from St. Mary’s University’s economics department, as well as a team of researchers from St. Mary’s University including sociologists Janet Armitage and Sue Nash, and bioinformatician Lori Boies.

Together, the team will formulate a robust intervention plan with a community-based participatory approach, in partnership with community organizations that serve the population. The primary goal is to measure the impact of the intervention on participation in the labor market among uninsured and underinsured Latinos living with diabetes.

While Blanco is not new to designing and evaluating interventions that take a community-based approach, this grant will allow her to focus on a new community that holds personal significance. Being raised in the state of Chihuahua, which shares a border with Texas, Blanco is keenly aware of the needs and opportunities in the region. "Collaborating with St. Mary’s researchers presents a meaningful opportunity to be part of the efforts to improve the wellbeing of communities I have a personal attachment to," said Blanco. 

"Improving the wellbeing of minorities, especially Latino immigrant families, aligns well with Pepperdine’s mission based on Christian values for lives of purpose, service, and leadership," commented Blanco. "I hope to continue leveraging digital technologies to promote behavioral change that can result in improving health outcomes related to diabetes management and that would likely result in a positive impact on labor market outcomes," she said. 

Serving under the National Science Foundation's larger initiative "Build and Broaden: Enhancing Social, Behavioral and Economic Science Research and Capacity at Minority-Serving Institutions," the project opens doors to the School of Public Policy to enrich students' learning experience by providing the opportunity to collaborate with Blanco’s research activities or by learning about the findings of the field work in the classroom.