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UCLA Establishes New Center for LGBTQ+ Health Research

UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

The Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, has launched a new center to promote the health of sexual and gender minorities through research and partnerships with the LGBTQ+ community, nonprofit organizations, public health officials, and policymakers in Los Angeles and beyond.

The UCLA Center for LGBTQ Advocacy, Research & Health, or C-LARAH, will develop and implement evidence-based strategies that address both the physical and mental health needs of LGBTQ+ people, UCLA announced Thursday. It will be directed by Matthew Mimiaga, a Fielding School professor of epidemiology known for his research working with sexual and gender minorities at the intersection of HIV, substance use, and mental health around the world.

“Both here at home and around the world, LGBTQ populations have a higher prevalence and incidence of life-threatening physical conditions, mental health challenges, and certain chronic and infectious diseases, along with significant barriers in accessing and maintaining healthcare and treatment,” Matthew Mimiaga said in a press release. “C-LARAH and its partners will collaborate on research-informed ways to both reach members of this historically marginalized population and serve them holistically.”

C-LARAH — larah is derived from the Latin “hilaris,” meaning cheerful — will also provide training and mentorship opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to support the growing demand for public health research that benefits vulnerable sexual and gender minorities. The center’s plans include establishing a postdoctoral fellowship program and certificate program in LGBTQ health and awarding pilot funding to researchers so that they can generate initial data that can then be used in applications for larger government grants.

The Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention and crisis intervention services for LGBTQ+ youth, praised the founding of the center. “I’m excited for the UCLA Center for LGBTQ Advocacy, Research & Health to open its doors and help shape policies that directly impact the lives of LGBTQ young people,” Trevor Project CEO and Executive Director Amit Paley said in the release. “Limited LGBTQ-inclusive research, plus the lack of systematic data collection on LGBTQ communities, can make it even more difficult to address the unique mental health challenges of LGBTQ youth and the obstacles to care that they face.

“The Trevor Project recognizes a clear need for greater investment in advocacy and research that can better inform public policies that support the needs of LGBTQ youth. We look forward to working with the center to educate policymakers, advocate for LGBTQ youth, and provide unique insight into their mental health.”

Mimiaga, who recently came to UCLA from Brown University, will also be co-leader of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, or MACS. Since 1984, more than 7,000 gay and bisexual men have been enrolled in the study, which has produced key findings on the epidemic.

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