UC Merced joins sister campuses in migrant study

New center will examine well-being of displaced people worldwide.

November 25, 2009 

UC Merced researchers will soon start a new help-save-the-world project.

They're examining ways to improve well-being and eliminate health disparities of international migrants, refugees and internally displaced people around the globe.

The new undertaking was announced this week, with the creation of the University of California's Center of Expertise on Migration and Health. Each of the university's 10 campuses will contribute to the center.

The center will provide research and policy recommendations at the local, national and international level to improve the health of migrant and refugee populations.

There's no shortage of need for such work.

Worldwide, 42 million people were forced from their homes last year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In California, immigrant and migrant worker populations represent a significant chunk of the state's population.

At UC Merced, the leader of the program is Robin Maria DeLugan, an assistant professor of anthropology.

"This 10-campus partnership is very exciting," DeLugan said. "Even though this partnership has an international focus, we hope there will be a component that will focus on issues in our region specifically."

The center will partner with international universities, legal scholars and public health researchers, among others.

The program will have two hubs, in Davis and San Diego. UC Merced will work with the Davis hub to collaborate with other Northern California campuses on research.

The next two years will focus on planning and fundraising. There's no official start date for the center's work.

"It's such a new initiative. It's just taking shape now," DeLugan said. "This is a 10-campus partnership that is very exciting."

The center of migration and health falls under the umbrella of the UC Global Health Institute, a systemwide program that will coordinate several of these centers of expertise. The institute was formally established Nov. 9, with the support of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Reporter Danielle E. Gaines can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dgaines@mercedsun-star.com.

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