Dr. Brown is the Joseph H. Blades Centennial Memorial Professor Emeritus in Nursing, Senior Research Scientist, and Co-investigator/Pilot Core Director, Center for Transdisciplinary Collaborative Research in Self-Management Science. She has served as the School of Nursing's Associate Dean for Research (2009-2011; 1995-1999) and the University's Associate Vice President for Research (1999-2006). Dr. Brown's research is focused on diabetes 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. A recent study, funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research/NIH, involved a relatively novel type of meta-analysis. The study was designed as a model-driven meta-analysis aimed at testing an explanatory diabetes model in order to more clearly identify those factors that are 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 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 has focused on developing and testing culturally tailored strategies to address the disproportionate burden of diabetes in Mexican Americans. Over the years, she has received numerous research grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases/NIH, as well as the State of Texas, to test the efficacy of these interventions specifically designed for this population. One of her current studies, 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. (For more information on this study, read Researchers Seek to Prevent Diabetes in At-Risk Population article.) A more recently funded study (2019-2024), in collaboration with colleague Dr. Mary Steinhardt from the UT Austin Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, involves the testing of a resilience-based diabetes self-management intervention conducted in African-American churches.