Guidance for Mentors of Trainees Interested in Health Disparities and Minority Aging Research

September 22, 2021
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM EDT

Mirella Diaz-Santos, PhD

Franchesca Arias, PhD

  • Please note that the Zoom link will become active shortly before the event begins. 
  • The CE form will become available after the event concludes.

The guidelines are intended to assist neuropsychology-neuroscience research mentors in evaluating their own readiness for working with students interested in cultural neuropsychology-neuroscience research projects and to provide them with educational resources/materials to increase their knowledge, skills, and experience relevant to the area of mentoring culturally and linguistically responsive research projects. The specific goals of these professional research guidelines are to provide research mentors with: (1) a community-based participatory research framework for cultural neuropsychology/neuroscience research projects conducted by students under their mentorship, (2) a frame of reference for the science of recruitment and retention of culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and (3) evidence-based information on the socio-cultural, racial/ethnic, and linguistic factors (and their intersectionalities) to consider throughout the neuropsychology-neuroscience research study design, (theory, research question, hypothesis, valid/reliable instrumentation for the intended population), implementation, data analysis/interpretation and conclusions. Emphasis will be given to the need of establishing and maintaining academic-community interdisciplinary collaborations (including collaborations with academic faculty of color following theoretical and methodological underpinnings from community-based participatory research for health model). This emphasis will serve as a mentoring model for the student as they progress in their professional academic careers. 

  1. Determine whether principles of community-based participatory research methodology would be more appropriate for the student’s research project. 
  2. Differentiate the different science-based recruitment and retention methods appropriate for diverse populations and discuss the most appropriate techniques for the student’s research project. 
  3. Describe all the relevant socio-cultural, racial/ethnic, and linguistic factors impacting research conceptualization, design, analysis, interpretation, and conclusions, and discuss the most appropriate techniques to account for all the relevant factors in the student’s research project. 

Dr. Franchesca Arias is a bilingual Clinical Neuropsychologist and her research focuses on identifying factors that propel, or interfere with, healthy cognitive aging across all ethnoracial and socioeconomic groups. Dr. Arias is particularly interested in the role of preoperative patient and environment –specific characteristics influence outcomes in medically compromised older adults. Clinically, Dr. Arias will provide neuropsychological services (i.e., assessments, psychoeducation to patients and their families, and consultation) at the Cognitive Neurology Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Mirella Díaz-Santos is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine, Director of Research of the Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence at Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and Research Psychologist at the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research. By training, she is a neuropsychologist with an expertise in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias working primarily with the Latino/a older adult community and their families. Her clinical-research program focuses on: (1) engaging in community outreach programs to increase knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease, comorbid medical conditions and healthy aging, (2) collaborating with community organizations and UCLA academic centers to improve access to culturally and linguistically congruent assessments and treatments, (3) collaborating with interdisciplinary teams to increase the available Spanish and bilingual cognitive assessments validated and normed in the Latino/a community, (4) using neuroimaging techniques to uncover how the cultural, linguistic, and socio-political nuances of our Latino/a communities changes brain structures and functions, and consequently, the clinical expression of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and (5) using neuroscience, psychological, socio-cultural-political principles to understand and improve the participation of Latinos/as in Alzheimer’s disease clinical research.

Collins, S. E., Clifasefi, S. L., Stanton, J., The LEAP Advisory Board, Straits, K. J. E., Gil-Kashiwabara, E., Rodriguez Espinosa, P., Nicasio, A. V., Andrasik, M. P., Hawes, S. M., Miller, K. A., Nelson, L. A., Orfaly, V. E., Duran, B. M., & Wallerstein, N. (2018). Community-based participatory research (CBPR): Towards equitable involvement of community in psychology research. American Psychologist, 73(7), 884–898. 

Dulin M.F., Tapp, H., Smith, H.A., Urquieta de Hernandez, B., & Furuseth, O.J. (2011). A community based participatory approach to improving health in a Hispanic population. Implementation Science, 6, (38), 1-12. doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-38

Milburn, N. G., Hamilton, A. B., Lopez, S., & Wyatt, G. E. (2019). Mentoring the next generation of behavioral health scientists to promote health equity. The American journal of orthopsychiatry, 89(3), 369–377.

Nápoles, A. M., Chadiha, L. A., & Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (2011). Advancing the science of recruitment and retention of ethnically diverse populations. The Gerontologist, 51 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S142–S146.

Unertl, K. M., Schaefbauer, C. L., Campbell, T. R., Senteio, C., Siek, K. A., Bakken, S., & Veinot, T. C. (2016). Integrating community-based participatory research and informatics approaches to improve the engagement and health of underserved populations. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association: JAMIA, 23(1), 60–73.

Wilson, E., Kenny, A., & Dickson-Swift, V. (2018). Ethical Challenges in Community-Based Participatory Research: A Scoping Review. Qualitative health research, 28(2), 189–199.

Wyatt, G. E., Chin, D., Milburn, N., Hamilton, A., Lopez, S., Kim, A., Stone, J. D., & Belcher, H. (2019). Mentoring the mentors of students from diverse backgrounds for research. The American journal of orthopsychiatry, 89(3), 321–328.

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Dr. Silva’s parents immigrated from Panama and Chile to the United States, and she was born and raised in melting pot that is New York City. She grew up speaking Spanish at home and feels fortunate to have grown up in an environment where cultural diversity was the norm, not the exception.

During her training to become a neuropsychologist, Dr. Silva was often asked to work with Spanish-speaking patients, though most training sites did not have supervisors who also spoke Spanish or had sufficient cultural knowledge relevant to Latinx populations. She joined HNS as a student and found mentorship and training resources that helped her gain competency in providing neuropsychological services to these patients. Dr. Silva has served on the HNS Board as Member-at-Large (2014-2016) and Secretary (2019-2022). She has also been involved with several committees over the years and is currently serving as the Chair of the Information Technology (IT) Committee. She views HNS as the main organization to promote development of professional resources and scientific advancements in neuropsychology that are specific to Latinx groups; she is honored to help the organization in any way she can. 

Dr. Silva is the owner of Pacific Neurobehavioral Clinic, PC, a group practice in San Diego, California that offers neuropsychological evaluation and psychotherapy services to adults with various neuropsychiatric conditions. She engages in clinical and civil forensic work and oversees the clinic operations.

Educational, training and professional experiences include:

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – Florida Institute of Technology
  • Post-doctoral fellowships – Fullerton Neuropsychological Services, St. Jude Medical Center (one year; neurorehabilitation) and University of California San Diego (one year; clinical neuropsychology)
  • Staff neuropsychologist at Sharp Memorial and Grossmont hospitals from 2009-2012
  • Board certified through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) for the state of California
  • Treasurer and Current Chair of California Psychological Association-Division 8 (Neuropsychology)

In her spare time, Dr. Silva enjoys playing and making music (piano and electronic instruments; she recently took up learning how to play the theremin), playing tennis, karaoke, and spending time with family and friends.