Dr. Brown is the Joseph H. Blades Centennial Memorial Professor Emerita in Nursing, Senior Research Scientist, and former Co-investigator/Pilot Core Director, Center for Transdisciplinary Collaborative Research in Self-Management Science. She served as the University's Associate Vice President for Research (1999-2006) as well as two terms as the School of Nursing's Associate Dean for Research (2009-2011; 1995-1999). Dr. Brown's research is focused on diabetes prevention and self-management in Mexican Americans and other populations at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. She has had ongoing research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1992. She has conducted 5 funded meta-analyses of diabetes self-management research. A recent study, funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research/NIH, involved a relatively novel type of meta-analysis — a model-driven meta-analysis aimed at testing an explanatory diabetes model in order to more clearly identify those factors most predictive of positive health outcomes, considering race/ethnicity, age, and gender.
In addition to meta-analysis studies, Dr. Brown also has a long history of testing diabetes prevention and/or self-management interventions in Starr County, an impoverished Texas-Mexico border community that holds the record for the highest number of diabetes-related deaths of any county in Texas; the county is the poorest in Texas and one of the poorest in the U.S. This work focused on developing and testing culturally tailored strategies to address the disproportionate burden of diabetes in Mexican Americans. Over the years, Dr. Brown received numerous research grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases/NIH (NIDDK/NIH), as well as the State of Texas, to test the efficacy of interventions specifically designed for this population. The current study, funded for 5 years (2017-2022) by the NIDDK/NIH, is designed to test a diabetes prevention intervention in Mexican Americans who have verified prediabetes. The study also involves an examination of the influence of genetic variation on glucose regulation in response to the lifestyle intervention. Due to COVID-19 and based on input from the Starr County community, the intervention has been modified so that it can be delivered remotely rather than the original plan to offer it via in-person groups. The modified intervention, an augmented text messaging strategy, is currently being evaluated for effectiveness. (For more information on this study, read Researchers Seek to Prevent Diabetes in At-Risk Population article.)