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The Federal Office of Minority Health has sponsored the National Education Lupus Program with Northwestern University and the Illinois Public Health Association to develop an initiative to increase the recognition of lupus and address health disparities among Latinos/Hispanics residing in the United States. The grant focus is to design and implement interventions engaging people with lupus, their supportive systems, and the overall community.

Below are highlights of the recent work done as part of the MONARCAS Project:


Members of the MONARCAS Project presented at the American College of Rheumatology Popular Opinion Leaders workshop in Atlanta on May 26th.


Our work was highlighted in a presentation conducted by the senior Monarcas at the Mexican Consulate In September, 2015. Fourth year medical student at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Christian Bengston, presented an educational presentation on Lupus to the lay audience


January 2016 was a very busy month for the MONARCAS project with training sessions for coalition staff and youth popular opinion leaders in the community, radio broadcasts, award recognition for members of our research team, lecture and panel discussions for patients, and the publication a bilingual newspaper on lupus and our work in the community.


We conducted a MONARCAS Lupus training event with the Corazon services staff at Fuerza Youth Center, a program of Corazon Community Services. The purpose of this training was to inform staff members on the public health curriculum that will be used to train the youth popular opinion leaders. The first two training sessions with the youth at the center were held shortly after the staff received their instruction. In addition, members of our research team were featured on the Spanish Public Radio World Wide Podcast "Café, salud y vida" with Elena Navas PhD which discussed with Patricia Canessa PhD and  Exie Salazar, Community health worker/MONARCA from Casa Michoacán about the MONARCAS project, lupus in our Latino communities, and the lupus patient experience.


In November, 2015, two important events occurred.  The first interaction occurred during the American Public Health Association Meeting, where MONARCAS prepared documents summarizing the coalition information provided to the Office of Minority Health, Northwestern University Public Health Program and the Illinois Public Health Association for dissemination at their conference booths. The second event occurred during the recognition luncheon sponsored by the Lupus Society of Illinois (LSI) where Karen Mancera-Cuevas, MS, MPH, CHES was presented with the volunteer award for her work with the Hispanic community.


On January 30th, the LSI held the “Empowering Lupus Patients Educational Seminar” at Saint Xavier University presented by Karen Mancera-Cuevas, MS, MPH, CHES and Zineb Aouhab, MD, Rheumatology Fellow, from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The presentations discussed the clinical trial process, lupus drugs currently in development, and basics about lupus. In addition to the lecture, a moderated panel discussion was an opportunity to learn from others in the lupus community who have learned how to live well with lupus. Lastly, an article on the MONARCAS project was published in the “Reflejos” newspaper distributed in Cook County and Northern Illinois.


Our work is not slowing down and in February, the National Spanish Broadcasting Network Univision taped a program featuring Patricia Canessa PhD, Brenda Herrera Research Coordinator, and Maria Robles, a Senior Monarca and Lupus Patient on Vida Mujer with Zoe Torres. They discussed awareness about lupus, the Monarcas project, and personal experience with lupus.