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Founded in 2016, The HEALTH Research Institute (Helping Everyone Achieve a LifeTime of Health) was established as an interdisciplinary, University-wide research institute within the Chancellor’s Healthy Community Initiative at the University of Houston.

Participating Colleges


Dr. Ezemenari M. Obasi

Founder & Director of the HEALTH Research Institute

Dr. Obasi’s current program of research focuses on addictions, health disparities that disproportionately affect the African American community, stress physiology, and cultural predictors of health behaviors. As the director of the Hwemudua Addictions and Health Disparities Laboratory (HAHDL) at the University of Houston (UH) – a Biosafety Level II laboratory – he takes an interdisciplinary approach (incl., biomarkers, biofeedback, implicit cognitions, genetics, fMRI, experimental manipulations, etc.) and uses a diverse range of settings (incl., community, bar lounge, experimental rooms, medical facilities, etc.) to investigate biological, psychological, social, and cultural determinants of health.

Dr. Lorraine R. Reitzel

Co-Founder & Co-Director of the HEALTH Research Institute

Dr. Reitzel directs the Social Determinants and Health Disparities Lab at the University of Houston. Her research program focuses on better understanding the social determinants of health and health risk behaviors - and the specific biopsychosocial mechanisms that account for disparities in health risk behaviors and health outcomes - with an emphasis on generating highly translational results that can be used to inform policy and intervention. Much of her work is focused on addressing health disparities related to tobacco use, alone or comorbid with other substance dependence and health risk behaviors, among low socioeconomic status (SES) groups.