Founded by Developmental Psychology professor Jeffery Gilger, the Alliance is a partnership of researchers, educators, practitioners, parents, and community members whose mission is to promote the healthy development of children and families in and around the San Joaquin Valley. Through a variety of initiatives, the Alliance seeks to inform the public about typical development, atypical development, and child/family health through research and outreach, serve as a consulting resource for community members on issues related to child and family health and development, and faciliate research on the development and health of children and families in the local community.
The Health Sciences Research Institute (HSRI) was established in May 2012 as the second Organized Research Unit at UC Merced and is the University's focal point for health and medical research. With 100 faculty members across UC Merced's three schools (Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences, Humanities & Arts), HSRI aims to foster world-renowned researchers through its work to improve the health of the people in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond. HSRI members are also engaged in translational research, evaluation and effectiveness research, and public health systems and services research. San Joaquin Valley regional health issues include asthma, valley fever (coccidioidomycosis), obesity, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, heart disease, risky teen behaviors, teen tobacco use, sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis, and many others. The opportunities to address the growing and complex health issues of the San Joaquin Valley and beyond require inter- and multidisciplinary teams. HSRI’s collaborative multidisciplinary research clusters and community emphasis provide an opportunity to rapidly develop, test, and disseminate new ways of improving health and delivering healthcare. This will help establish UC Merced as a world-renowned research university while improving the health of the people in the San Joaquin Valley.
The new Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center (NCPC) is funded by $3.8 million grant from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP); the NCPC is the first center to be funded by this program. Led by Health Psychology professor Dr. Anna Song, the NCPC will conduct research that enhances our understanding of tobacco & cannabis use, prevention and cessation, the social, economic and policy-related aspects of tobacco and cannabis use, along with related diseases in central California. All research will be conducted across 11 counties within the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) and in collaboration and partnership with the local communities (including organizations like Healthy House & AHA), with the aim of focusing on issues such as smoking bans, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, vaping, and marijuana use. The residents of the SJV and surrounding mountains are much more likely to use tobacco and other drugs, and suffer from tobacco- and drug-related illnesses than residents of other parts of the state. They have also been generally overlooked and underserved. Therefore, the NCPC will help evaluate how much SJV residents are aware of and support existing tobacco and cannabis control policies. The results will then be used to develop achievable policy recommendations that work towards reducing tobacco-related diseases and deaths in this rural region of California. The NCPC will also engage local youth and ethnicities/cultural groups, and train them to serve as advocates for tobacco and cannabis control, helping bringing the center’s findings to their peers and local policymakers. The NCPC represents an extensive range of collaborations spanning different Californian universities, research disciplines, and community organizations at the national, state and local level and is an amazing addition to the UC Merced Campus.