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Profile: The Health Disparities Working Group

Mission Statement

Transformative oncology research practices utilizing a spectrum of implementation tactics aimed toward human and social interaction research to reduce health differences.


  • Foundational research on health disparities from the molecule to the community.
  • Omics data science approach, state of the art approach, innovative. 
  • Developing policy and recommendations to reducing health disparities.


Michael Gutter, Ph.D.

Michael Gutter, Ph.D., is the associate dean for extension and state program leader for 4-H Youth Development, Families and Communities for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. He earned a bachelor of science is in family financial management and a Ph.D. in family resource management from The Ohio State University with a specialization in finance. 

Luisel Ricks-Santi, Ph.D.

Luisel Ricks-Santi, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida. She is a cancer genomics researcher, population scientist and cancer disparities researcher. Dr. Ricks-Santi is a graduate of Hampton University, where she received her bachelor of science degree in cellular and molecular biology. Additionally, she received her Ph.D. from Georgetown University in tumor biology and completed two post-doctoral fellowships at Howard University in cancer genomics/ cancer disparities research and clinical-translational sciences.

Q & A with Health Disparities Co-Chairs Michael Gutter, Ph.D., and Luisel Ricks-Santi, Ph.D.

What Is Most Important for Cancer Center Members To Know About This Working Group?

Working group members are passionate about how the research done at UF impacts community members, and how we can more effectively and strategically translate life-saving technologies to underserved communities. It does this through the discussion of broad topics, ranging from the social determinants to the biological determinants of health, and research that impacts our local and regional community. Our group encourages junior faculty, graduate students and postdocs to work with and learn from others to build more robust research and engagement programs.

How Does This Working Group Help Support the Cancer Center’s Overall Mission?

The Cancer Center’s mission is to prevent, detect, treat and ultimately cure cancer while addressing the unique challenges of the cancer burden faced by the population we serve. Our working group is well versed on the characteristics of the community and is keenly interested in how to translate research that leads to improved cancer outcomes in our catchment area. 

Some of our initiatives include providing cancer-related education, outreach, resources, and care to our community.