Category: News

Chicago Latino Caucus Meets With UIC Leadership

Latino caucus

Chicago City Council Latino caucus members visit UIC: Pictured (l-r): Aldermen Danny Solis, Ariel Reboyras, George Cardenas; UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis; Alderman Rey Lopez; UI Trustee Ric Estrada.

Members of the Chicago City Council Latino Caucus met with University of Illinois at Chicago Chancellor Michael Amiridis, U of I trustees, and other university officials on Oct. 22nd to discuss how Latinos are performing at UIC, Chicago’s largest university, and to explore ways of creating more working partnerships to help the institution do even more for the communities it serves.

Amiridis said UIC could be the gateway for the development of the West Side and nearby communities such as Pilsen, Chinatown, and North Lawndale.

Alderman George Cardenas of the 12th Ward, chair of the Latino caucus, said his members will create a scholarship fund to help Latino students succeed at UIC and other area universities, including those who are undocumented.

With U of I trustees Ricardo Estrada and Ray Cepeda in attendance, Amiridis addressed key issues related to the Latino experience at UIC, including enrollment and graduation rates and faculty recruitment and retention.

From 2000 to 2009, UIC’s Latino graduation rate steadily climbed by 14 percentage points, to 54 percent, Amiridis said, citing the most recent six-year cohort data, a national standard for graduation-rate comparison of colleges.

“The graduation gap is now about 13 percentage points between Latinos and the general student population,” Amiridis said, adding that the University is working to reduce that gap by focusing on the numerous reasons students drop out, with financial issues being among the top causes.

Amiridis said help is needed from Springfield, as UIC has received only about half of its state allocation under this year’s stop-gap budget.

UIC set a new record enrollment this fall with a total of 29,120 students. Latinos in the incoming undergraduate class numbered 1,272, or 38.5 percent of all freshmen.

The overall student body continues to reflect UIC’s commitment to diversity, with a makeup that is 36.2 percent white, 22.6 percent Latino, 18.6 percent Asian, and 8 percent African American.

By Miguel Alba

UIC Enrollment Hits Record High

2016_8-21_Convocation-7-387x258The University of Illinois at Chicago enrolled a record 29,120 students on its campus, surpassing last year’s figures with a record number of Latino students making up the new freshman class, according to enrollment statistics.

The fall enrollment figures include a 2.2 percent increase from the fall of 2015 to 17,959 undergraduate students at UIC. The number of undergraduate students who transferred to UIC this fall jumped to 1,958, a nearly 25 percent increase from last year’s figures.

“We’ve seen record enrollment for the second year in a row.  This is a testament to the quality of our faculty and the breadth of our programs of study,” said Susan Poser, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The fact that so many students are choosing UIC reinforces what has been true for years — that UIC is a destination university because of its top-notch education, location and value.”

Total enrollment for fall semester, including continuing education and online students climbed to 29,120, up .2 percent from last year’s 29,048 students, based on enrollment as of Sept. 2, the 10th day of classes. The 10-day figures are the traditional benchmark for enrollment data among U.S. colleges and universities.

The number of Latinos in the freshman class jumped by 9 percent compared to last year’s numbers, with 1,272 students making up 38.46 percent of the freshman class.

Latinos also accounted for nearly 28 percent of the total 1,958 of student transfers. The number of Asian Students transferring to UIC increased by 84 and African American students transferring to UIC also increased by 46, compared to last year’s figures.

The total student body continues to reflect UIC’s commitment to diversity, with a racial and ethnic makeup that is 36.2 percent white, 22.6 percent Hispanic/Latino, 18.6 percent Asian and 8 percent African American.

Among undergraduate and graduate students, the College of Business Administration showed the largest enrollment gains, according to figures.

The College of Business Administration had 3,606 students enrolled, according to the latest figures, up by 240 students in 2015. Undergraduate students were responsible for the entire increase in the college’s enrollment as the number of graduate students remained flat from the year before.

by Carlos Sandovi


UIC ranks among top 30 LGBTQ-friendly campuses

rainbow-flag-close-387x258UIC is named one of the nation’s top 30 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friendly colleges and universities in the latest edition of the Campus Pride Index.

UIC, which is in the top 30 for the third time, is the only institution in Illinois named in the 2016 ranking. The list, now in its eighth year, highlights the most LGBTQ-inclusive colleges and universities for policy, programs and practices.

“This recognition from Campus Pride is significant for our campus because it reflects the ways that LGBTQ-inclusion is a shared priority among many units,” says Megan Carney, director of the UIC Gender and Sexuality Center.

“UIC has been a pioneer in some ways, by founding a center for LGBTQ issues over 20 years ago and being the first to start a Lavender Graduation in Chicago 10 years ago,” Carney said. “Certainly, there’s still work to be done, but this listing helps us to better understand where we fit in the national landscape. I’m grateful to all of the staff, faculty, students and alumni whose contributions over the years have shaped UIC.”

According to Campus Pride, the universities highlighted this year were chosen based on their overall ratings on the Campus Pride Index and specific LGBTQ-inclusive benchmarks. This year’s list includes public and private colleges ranging from 807 to over 45,000 students.

UIC earned a 4.5 out of five stars and received top scores for LGBTQ student life, which looked at 14 areas, ranging from how the campus offers awareness of experiences and concerns of the LGBTQ community, to having LGBTQ representation and leadership opportunities.

The campus also earned a top score in LGBTQ housing and residence life based on 11 areas, including the option for LGBTQ students to be matched with a LGBTQ-friendly roommate.

UIC also earned five stars in 12 areas such as the recruitment and retention of LGBTQ students, and for developing programs focusing on gender identity and expression.

More information about UIC and the other ranked schools is available online.

“Prospective students and their families today expect colleges to be LGBTQ-friendly. They want to know what LGBTQ programs, services and resources are available on the campus, and which are the ‘best of the best,’” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride and creator of the Campus Pride Index. “Now more than ever, there are colleges that are recruiting LGBTQ youth, and they are investing in a campus that is fully supportive of LGBTQ students. This Top 30 list showcases those top campuses leading the way.”

By Carlos Sadovi

UIC Urban Forum Set For September 15th

header-2017The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) will host the Urban Forum on September 15th, an annual conference that brings together policy makers, academics, community leaders, students, and interested citizens to discuss current urban issues impacting the region and nation with the purpose of driving a dialogue and sharing policy options, recommendations, and best practices.

The 2016 Urban Forum: Jobs and the Labor Force of Tomorrow will focus on human capital development in metropolitan regions by examining the role of migration and immigration, K-12 education preparedness, post-secondary workforce training and development efforts, and recruitment and professional development  of Millennials.

Dynamic metropolitan economies require a diverse, trained and available work force that adapts to the needs of commerce, industry, government and the service sector today as well as in the future. The rapidly changing economy demands that the workforce be adaptable and flexible by continuously increasing skill levels, providing training opportunities, and recognizing the quick pace of job shifting.

The UIC Urban Forum is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m. (doors open at 8 a.m.) on Thursday, September 15th, at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road in Chicago.

Admission is complimentary for all Chicago-area teachers, faculty and students but online registration is still required. Please bring a school ID for free admission. General public admission is $25 and includes lunch.

All attendees must register online prior to the Forum. To secure your registration and for more information, click HERE, or visit:


8:45 – 9:00 AM Welcoming Remarks
Michael D. Amiridis, Chancellor

9:00 – 10:00AM Panel #1
Evolving Pathways to Work
James Heckman, Nobel Prize Economist, Professor, University of Chicago-INVITED
Theresa Mintle, President and CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
Juan Salgado, President and CEO, Instituto del Progreso Latino

John McCarron,
Columnist and Former Editorial Board

10:00 – 10:15 AM Break

10:15 – 11:15 AM Panel #2
The Jobless Economy

George Crabtree, Director, UIC Energy Initiative; Distinguished Professor of Physics, Department
of Physics,UIC; Senior Scientist, Argonne Distinguished Fellow, Associate Division Director, Argonne National Laboratory

Beth Swanson, Vice President of Strategy and Programs, The Joyce Foundation

Sarah Karp,
Reporter, WBEZ

11:15 – 11:45 AM Keynote
Clarence Page,
American journalist, syndicated columnist, and senior member of The Chicago Tribune editorial board

11:45 – 12:45 PM Panel #3:
Bridges or Walls? Immigration and Trade Policy
Oscar Chacón, co-founder and Executive Director, Alianza Americas
Pin Ni, President, Wanxiang-America
Nik Theodore, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Research, Department of Urban Planning and Policy, UIC-INVITED

Chip Mitchell, West Side Bureau Reporter, WBEZ

12:45 – 1:00 PM Closing

1:00 PM Adjourn
Lunch & Networking

Breakthrough Research: New Solar Cell Makes Fuel out of Carbon Dioxide

Solar Cell

Amin Salehi-Khojin (left), UIC assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and postdoctoral researcher Mohammad Asadi with their breakthrough solar cell that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into syngas.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a potentially game-changing solar cell that cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel, using only sunlight for energy.

The finding is reported in the July 29 issue ofScience and was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. A provisional patent application has been filed.

Unlike conventional solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, the new device essentially does the work of plants, converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel, solving two crucial problems at once. A solar farm of such “artificial leaves” could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and produce energy-dense fuel efficiently.

“The new solar cell is not photovoltaic — it’s photosynthetic,” says Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC and senior author on the study.

“Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight,” he said.

While plants produce fuel in the form of sugar, the artificial leaf delivers syngas, or synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide. Syngas can be burned directly, or converted into diesel or other hydrocarbon fuels.

The ability to turn CO2 into fuel at a cost comparable to a gallon of gasoline would render fossil fuels obsolete.

Chemical reactions that convert CO2 into burnable forms of carbon are called reduction reactions, the opposite of oxidation or combustion. Engineers have been exploring different catalysts to drive CO2 reduction, but so far such reactions have been inefficient and rely on expensive precious metals such as silver, Salehi-Khojin said.

“What we needed was a new family of chemicals with extraordinary properties,” he said.

Solar Cell 2

Simulated sunlight powers a solar cell that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into syngas.

Salehi-Khojin and his coworkers focused on a family of nano-structured compounds called transition metal dichalcogenides — or TMDCs — as catalysts, pairing them with an unconventional ionic liquid as the electrolyte inside a two-compartment, three-electrode electrochemical cell.

The best of several catalysts they studied turned out to be nanoflake tungsten diselenide.

“The new catalyst is more active; more able to break carbon dioxide’s chemical bonds,” said UIC postdoctoral researcher Mohammad Asadi, first author on the Science paper.

In fact, he said, the new catalyst is 1,000 times faster than noble-metal catalysts — and about 20 times cheaper.

Other researchers have used TMDC catalysts to produce hydrogen by other means, but not by reduction of CO2. The catalyst couldn’t survive the reaction.

“The active sites of the catalyst get poisoned and oxidized,” Salehi-Khojin said. The breakthrough, he said, was to use an ionic fluid called ethyl-methyl-imidazolium tetrafluoroborate, mixed 50-50 with water.

“The combination of water and the ionic liquid makes a co-catalyst that preserves the catalyst’s active sites under the harsh reduction reaction conditions,” Salehi-Khojin said.

The UIC artificial leaf consists of two silicon triple-junction photovoltaic cells of 18 square centimeters to harvest light; the tungsten diselenide and ionic liquid co-catalyst system on the cathode side; and cobalt oxide in potassium phosphate electrolyte on the anode side.

When light of 100 watts per square meter – about the average intensity reaching the Earth’s surface – energizes the cell, hydrogen and carbon monoxide gas bubble up from the cathode, while free oxygen and hydrogen ions are produced at the anode.

“The hydrogen ions diffuse through a membrane to the cathode side, to participate in the carbon dioxide reduction reaction,” said Asadi.

The technology should be adaptable not only to large-scale use, like solar farms, but also to small-scale applications, Salehi-Khojin said. In the future, he said, it may prove useful on Mars, whose atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, if the planet is also found to have water.

“This work has benefitted from the significant history of NSF support for basic research that feeds directly into valuable technologies and engineering achievements,” said NSF program director Robert McCabe.

“The results nicely meld experimental and computational studies to obtain new insight into the unique electronic properties of transition metal dichalcogenides,” McCabe said. “The research team has combined this mechanistic insight with some clever electrochemical engineering to make significant progress in one of the grand-challenge areas of catalysis as related to energy conversion and the environment.”

“Nanostructured transition metal dichalcogenide electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction in ionic liquid” is online at or by contacting

Co-authors with Asadi and Salehi-Khojin are Kibum Kim, Aditya Venkata Addepalli, Pedram Abbasi, Poya Yasaei, Amirhossein Behranginia, Bijandra Kumar and Jeremiah Abiade of UIC’s mechanical and industrial engineering department, who performed the electrochemical experiments and prepared the catalyst under NSF contract CBET-1512647; Robert F. Klie and Patrick Phillips of UIC’s physics department, who performed electron microscopy and spectroscopy experiments; Larry A. Curtiss, Cong Liu and Peter Zapol of Argonne National Laboratory, who did Density Functional Theory calculations under DOE contract DE-ACO206CH11357; Richard Haasch of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who did ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy; and José M. Cerrato of the University of New Mexico, who did elemental analysis.

By Bill Burton

UIC To Enroll Participants in President’s Precision Medicine Initiative

UI Health photoThe University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and their affiliated hospitals and clinics have been selected to enroll 150,000 Illinoisans in the national Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program. The Illinois consortium is one of several such groups across the nation that will help bring one million or more U.S. participants over the next five years into a research effort to improve the prevention and treatment of disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics.

The Illinois Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program consortium will receive $4.3 million in fiscal year 2016 and a total of approximately $45 million over 5 years pending progress and availability of funds from the National Institutes of Health to meet its participant enrollment goal.

The Precision Medicine Initiative, announced by President Obama in his 2015 State of the Union address, launched in 2016 with a $215 million budget. It aims to enable a new era of medicine in which researchers, providers and research participants work together to develop individualized care.

Most prevention strategies and medical treatments are designed for the average patient. This one-size-fits-all approach means that strategies to stay healthy and treatments for illnesses are successful for some people, but not others.

Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person. While some advances in precision medicine have been made, the practice is not currently commonplace.

“Illinois, as just a single state, very closely resembles the rest of the U.S. combined because we have such diversity in terms of our populations and types of communities,” says Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice chancellor for community based practice at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center and a principal investigator on the grant.

Dr. Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at UIC, says that “for precision medicine to work for everyone, we need to know how prevention strategies, medicines and therapies work in a broad range of populations. With UIC’s unique ability to reach diverse communities through our clinics throughout Chicago, and through our regional College of Medicine campus in Peoria, we are well-positioned to help answer the questions that will help bring precision medicine to everyone.”

UI Health’s 13 Mile Square Health Centers are federally qualified neighborhood clinics located in some of Chicago’s most underserved communities, said Winn.

“Our Mile Square Health Centers reach into communities that carry an exceptionally heavy burden of disease,” said Winn, noting they serve African-American neighborhoods on the city’s south and west sides where cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma rates can be more than twice as high as in other populations.

Volunteer participants in the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program will be asked to contribute a wide range of health, environment and lifestyle information. The participants will also answer questions about their health history and status, share their genomic and other biological information through simple blood and urine tests, and grant access to their clinical data from electronic health records. In addition, mobile health devices and apps will provide lifestyle data and environmental exposures in real time. All this will be accomplished with essential privacy and security safeguards. As partners in the research, participants will have ongoing input into study design and implementation, as well as access to a wide range of their individual and aggregated study results.

The knowledge gained from the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program will extend the success of precision medicine in some cancers to many other diseases. Importantly, the program will focus not just on disease, but also on ways to increase an individual’s chances of remaining healthy throughout life.

“The range of information at the scale of one million people from all walks of life will be an unprecedented resource for researchers working to understand all of the factors that influence health and disease,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.

Dr. Martha Daviglus and Denise Hynes of the UIC College of Medicine are co-principal investigators on the grant. Dr. Jerry Krishnan, Maria Argos, Dr. Frederick Behm, Dr. Ben Gerber, Timothy Johnson, Robin Mermelstein, Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek and Karriem Watson of the UIC College of Medicine and Marcelo Bento Soares of the University of Illinois at Peoria College of Medicine are co-investigators on the grant.

UIC will coordinate efforts to enroll individuals at UI Hospital; Mile Square Health Center; University of Illinois at Peoria College of Medicine; Southern Illinois University Healthcare; Memorial Medical Center, Springfield; Blessing Health System, Quincy; Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, Matoon; OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria; Cook County Health and Hospitals System; and Mount Sinai Hospital, Chicago.

By Sharon Parmet

College of Lake County, UIC Sign Transfer Agreement

College of Lake County and UIC agreement

College of Lake County and UIC officials celebrate the Transfer Admission Guarantee signing. Back row, left to right: Tammy Mireles, CLC; Cecil Curtwright, UIC; Karen Hlavin and Cindy Sullivan, CLC; Robert R. Dixon, UIC. Front row: Dr. Rich Haney, CLC; Kevin M. Browne, UIC.

Students who wish to transfer from the College of Lake County (CLC) to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) can now take advantage of a new guaranteed admission agreement signed by academic officials from the two institutions.

Kevin A. Browne, UIC vice provost for academic and enrollment services, and Dr. Richard Haney, CLC provost, met June 22 to complete the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) agreement at the CLC Grayslake Campus. Also representing UIC were Robert R. Dixon, registrar; and Cecil Curtwright, associate vice provost, academic and enrollment services.

“In the 2014-15 academic year, there were 198 CLC transfer students enrolled at UIC, making it one of our top five public transfer institutions,” Dr. Haney said. “We are excited to increase that number through innovative partnerships like this that not only guarantee admission to our CLC students, but also provides our students with academic guidance and support from both of our institutions in order to assure a smooth transfer process.”

Browne said that the relationship between UIC and CLC began several years ago, but this formal agreement will help students avoid any missteps in the transfer process. “Anything we can do to bring clarity to the process is good,” he said. In the future, the two institutions will work on a reverse transfer agreement that allows credits earned at UIC to be transferred back to CLC so students can apply them toward an associate degree. Another benefit is that the tuition rate CLC students pay upon transferring to UIC will not increase under the university’s Undergraduate Guaranteed Tuition Program, according to Browne.

The UIC undergraduate colleges participating include the Colleges of Architecture, Design and the Arts; Business Administration; Engineering; Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Urban Planning and Public Affairs. The agreement will be in force for three years with annual renewal to allow for improvements to ease of transfer as curriculum is updated.

Carlos Catalan, a 2016 CLC graduate, vice president of the CLC Student Government Association and Student Ambassador, attended the signing event and reflected on its importance to students.

“This agreement will assist students on their path to success by alleviating some of the pressures surrounding the transfer process. It allows students to plan out their academic path earlier than anticipated, which will produce a more seamless transfer process,” Catalan said.

CLC currently has guaranteed admission agreements with American Business School, Paris, France; Arizona State University; DePaul University; Eastern Illinois University; Elmhurst College; Herzing University; North Central College; Northeastern Illinois University; Olivet Nazarene University; Trinity International University; and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering.

To learn more about CLC’s guaranteed admission programs, visit or call (847) 543-2090.

University of Illinois at Chicago Announces Partnership To Help International Students Succeed

studentsUniversity of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Shorelight Education recently announced the signing of an agreement to create UIC International, an innovative partnership platform that supports the recruitment, preparation, and success of international students. UIC International will launch the International Accelerator Program (IAP), which will operate at both the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

Located in Chicago, Ill., UIC International will broaden educational opportunities for students from across the globe and help the university become a model for international student success and opportunity. The development and implementation of UIC International aligns with the university’s emphasis on diversity and providing students with ethnically and culturally rich learning environment. The IAP will provide students with academic, language, social, and professional development opportunities that together dramatically increase student retention and integrate international students into campus life.

“University of Illinois at Chicago is dedicated to the discovery and distribution of knowledge,” said Michael Amiridis, chancellor of UIC. “Our collaboration with Shorelight through UIC International deepens our investment in the international community and provides new and innovative ways to give students the chance to study, work and grow with classmates who will broaden each other’s perspectives and worldview.”

With a mandate to support student success and retention, UIC International will provide a dedicated team of support staff and enrollment management services, ensuring a smooth transition and integration for students coming to UIC from diverse geographies and academic backgrounds. The program will build upon existing infrastructure within the university to grow international student enrollment by recruiting from more than 100 countries, support international students transition to a U.S. academic environment, and expand UIC’s global brand.

“Shorelight is proud to build a program with University of Illinois at Chicago that will offer international students a transformative experience at a signature U.S. institution in a great American city,” said Tom Dretler, CEO of Shorelight Education. “UIC IAP students will benefit directly from an intimate, community-focused program with highly ranked academics and personalized support that will follow them through their very first days on campus to their successful graduation and beyond.”

University of Illinois at Chicago will welcome its first IAP students in spring 2017.

By Sherri McGinnis González


President Killeen: Crisis Growing After Second Year Without An Illinois State Budget


The General Assembly  adjourned for the second straight year without reaching agreement with the governor on funding to support the University of Illinois system and public higher education across our state. These consecutive failures in Springfield are unprecedented in Illinois history.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders have pledged to continue negotiations, but I am gravely concerned about the implications for our students, our faculty and staff and our campuses if we are forced to weather another protracted period without adequate funding from the state.

This great university system is not in danger of shutting its doors, but a crisis is worsening nonetheless.

We are now 11 months into fiscal 2016 with only stopgap funding that will provide about a quarter of the nearly $650 million in state funding that we received the year before. Now, we face the prospect of a new fiscal year with no state support.

To date, we have weathered the shortfall responsibly through significant cost-saving initiatives, structural reforms and prudent financial management. But we cannot withstand a continued loss of state funding without considerable damage to our core missions – teaching, research, public service and economic development.

All options are on the table as we go forward – layoffs, reductions of academic programs, closure of units and cuts in a health-care enterprise that provides critical care to underserved populations in Chicago. All would damage the very core of our mission to serve students and the public good, and erode a rich, 150-year legacy of academic excellence and economic impact that would be far more costly to rebuild than sustain.

We will continue to do everything in our power to preserve the world-class quality that is synonymous with the University of Illinois, ramping up efforts that have been underway for well over a year to advocate at every turn for the interests of our students, our employees and the people and families of Illinois.

Tim Killeen
University of Illinois

Cuban Health Officials to Observe, Advise at Englewood, Back of the Yards Health Care Clinics

Mile Square

Cuban health officials will embed at Mile Square Health Centers, operated by University of Illinois Health, to provide expertise on caring for underserved communities. There are 13 community healthcare centers across Chicago.

The University of Illinois Cancer Center will bring physicians from Cuba and the Cuban Ministry of Health to Chicago to evaluate women and children’s health and cancer prevention programs at two community-based clinics under a two-year, $1 million grant from the Kellogg Foundation.

The Cuban partners will embed at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System Mile Square Health Centers in Englewood and Back of the Yards, bringing their expertise on delivering preventive health and improving the health of patients living in high-poverty, underserved communities.

“The Cuban health system does preventive health very, very well, and they do it without a lot of money,” said Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice chancellor of community based practice at UI Health and director at the University of Illinois Cancer Center.

“Despite limited resources, the Cuban people have exceptionally low rates of infant mortality, even compared to developed countries, including the United States, and they also have low rates of cervical cancer,” Winn said. “Cervical cancer rates, in many of the neighborhoods we serve, are extremely high, even though we have resources like the HPV vaccine to help lower cervical cancer rates to near zero. Perhaps our Cuban counterparts have a different way of approaching their patients that improves uptake of preventive efforts, such as an innovative way of providing education.”

After a few preliminary meetings both in Chicago and Cuba, the Cuban team of physicians and health officials will spend 18 months at the Englewood and Back of the Yards clinics observing and advising.

Afterwards, Cuban and Mile Square practitioners will work with a community steering committee including partners from the March of Dimes, the UIC College of Nursing and School of Public Health to develop a master plan based on suggestions and observations generated during the Cuban team’s visit.

“Not only will they look at how the clinics operate to deliver health care and preventive medicine, but we also hope they will be able to make connections with the community and its civic leaders to attain a holistic picture of how the built and political environment plays into the health of local residents,” Winn said.

Cubans rely heavily on community health care workers, Winn explained. While UI Health uses community health care workers, the feeling is that more might be useful.

“They also use nurse practitioners differently that we do,” said Winn. “We want their perspective on our use of resources, because they may have a different way of doing things that we can implement to start moving our needle a little faster on cancer and women and children’s health.”

UI Health has 13 federally-qualified health centers that are community clinics located in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.

By Sharon Parmet