We have grown accustomed to seeing overall life expectancy in the U.S. go up, so you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that it peaked in 2014 and has declined slightly since.
Here is the 2014 CDC data for life expectancy by race:
- Black Americans: 75.54 years
- White Americans: 79.12 years
- Latino Americans: 82.89 years
And here, according to an article published in PNAS this week, is how much COVID-19 has reduced the average overall life expectancy of people born today in the US.
- Black Americans: 2.10 years
- White Americans: 0.68 years
- Latino Americans: 3.05 years
If our COVID-19 response is a measure of our humanity, then these outcomes are a measure of our failure to overcome one of the most profound factors influencing the quality and length of people’s lives: access to health care—not just when sick—but to keep people well.
In the health sciences we are challenged to ask and answer: what can we do about that?
Here are some interprofessional initiatives underway to reduce health disparities:
- Disparities in COVID Response Task Force: a U-wide collaboration with Minnesota health departments, local and regional health care systems and communities to increase COVID testing and vaccinations in diverse communities and reduce disparity gaps by coordinating and disseminating resources on testing, mobile care, and immunization events.
- National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants (NRC-RIM): coordinates with state and local health departments to help refugee, immigrant, and migrant communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID -19.
- Mobile Health Initiative: brings care to communities that have inadequate access to care--for example, the migrant workers who harvest Minnesota’s crops each summer.
Our society is interconnected, and inequity in health outcomes affects all of us. From your perspective, what are some ideas for additional changes and programs to help reduce health disparities? Please let me know in the feedback below.
Note: The PNAS article was based on population data from October 2020 and only included data on the three groups listed. For comparison, in 2014, average life expectancy for Native Americans was 75.06 years; for Asian Americans 86.67 years.
For more demographic data about COVID-19 deaths, see: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#demographics.
Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD
Vice President for Clinical Affairs
Moving the Dial: the Future of Health Care is Rooted in Community
Roli Dwivedi, MD, chief clinical officer at Community-University Health Care Center, is leading the Disparities in COVID Response Task Force. The interprofessional group will help identify and recommend culturally appropriate tools and promising practices to educate and engage communities and develop a sustainability plan for continued engagement. Learn more about these efforts.
First-of-its-Kind Medical Truck Launches in the Twin Cities Metro to Treat Cardiac Arrest Patients
This week the University of Minnesota, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and health care system partners announced the launch of a truck outfitted with medical equipment and virtual reality technology to help experts attend to patients remotely for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Part of the Minnesota Mobile Resuscitation Consortium, the truck brings the emergency room to cardiac arrest patients and is an innovative step in providing care to cardiac arrest patients who need to be placed on ECMO.
COVID19: The Way Forward - Feb. 15, 22, & March 1
The next virtual Mini Medical School series "COVID-19: The Way Forward" is an exploratory journey of emerging questions and new developments around COVID-19. As we move into a new phase of the pandemic with vaccines becoming available, we’ll discuss real-time updates and what we believe lies ahead. This event is free and open to the public. Register now.
Ethics, Research and Pregnancy: Guidance and Lessons from the PHASES Project
Join the Center for Bioethics for their upcoming Ethics Grand Rounds, “Ethics, Research and Pregnancy: Guidance and Lessons from the PHASES Project” on Feb. 19. Ethics Grand Rounds is a series of monthly seminars featuring noted local, national, & international bioethics scholars lecturing on emerging research of ethical issues in health care & the life sciences.
The Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network (MNCCTN) announced its inaugural grant program for cancer clinical trials. The program is intended to broaden the depth and reach of clinical trials offered to cancer patients in Greater Minnesota. For the initial funding cycle, up to three grants will be awarded, each with a maximum award amount of $125,000. Awardees will be expected to work in partnership with the MNCCTN HUB team on development and implementation of the study. Proposed projects must be cancer-related and interventional. Both treatment interventional and non-treatment interventional trials will be considered. LOI’s due Feb. 19.
Resources for the Caregiver: Dementia Outreach and Education
As part of its five-year commitment, MN Northstar GWEP is offering public education and support for families and caregivers through its Minnesota county tour on dementia and dementia care—Dementia Educational Experience Roadshow (DEER). The educational program offers critical skills training and education for caregivers, families, communities and health professionals.
Regenerative Medicine Minnesota Research Awards
Twelve research projects were selected for Regenerative Medicine Minnesota grants from 54 applications:
Safety Evaluation of Intracoronary Infusion of Extracellular Vesicles in Patients with AMI
Atta Behfar, MD, PhD
Role and Mechanism of function of adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells in hemodialysis arteriovenous fistulas
Sanjay Mirsa, MD
Targeting impaired myogenesis and muscle regeneration defects in GNE myopathy
Jason Doles, PhD
Role of mitochondria-related micro-RNAs in obesity-induced human MSC dysfunction
Alfonso Eirin, MD
Bioengineering strategies for blood diseases and regeneration
Daniel Garry, MD, PhD
Restoring vascular and neural functions in mouse models of retinal disease
Harald Junge, PhD
Unlocking chimeric competency for regenerative medicine
Walter Low, PhD
A humanized model of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) to study disease onset and progression in response to volumetric pressure loads
Brenda Ogle, PhD
Pharmacoregeneration for chronic spinal cord injury
Isobel Scarisbrick, PhD
First-in-class pharmacotherapies for arthrofibrosis
Matthew Abdel, MD
Epigenetic inhibition of inflammation in alcoholic hepatitis
Enis Kostallari, PhD
Bioengineering of Mesenchymal Stromal cells for regenerative medicine
Elizabeth Siegler, PhD