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CEHI Post-doctoral Research Fellow Dr. Mercedes A. Bravo has received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a K99/R00 grant

Children’s Environmental Health Initiative Research Scientist Receives $50k grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The RWJF, the nation’s leading philanthropy on health and health care, has awarded Dr. Mercedes Bravo, a Research Scientist with the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative (CEHI) at Rice University, a 12-month grant through the New Connections program. Dr. Bravo is among a select group of Junior Investigators to receive a New Connections grant. It will allow Dr. Bravo to investigate the extent to which combinations of early life environmental exposures (e.g., lead) and neighborhood contextual factors contribute to disparate educational outcomes.

New Connections is a national program designed to introduce new scholars to RWJF and expand the diversity of perspectives that inform the foundation’s programming. The program seeks early- to mid-career scholars from backgrounds that are historically disadvantaged or underrepresented in research disciplines, such as individuals from ethnic or racial groups historically underrepresented in research disciplines, first-generation college graduates, and people from lower-income communities. “We are so excited to welcome Dr. Bravo into the tenth cohort of New Connections grantees. The program connects first-time grantees to the Foundation, and the new perspectives they bring are essential to solving the critical, complex issues affecting our nation’s health,” says Catherine Malone, DBA, MBA, and Program Officer at RWJF.

“This cohort joins the larger New Connections network of more than 850 scholars—a network that provides opportunities for scholarly support and collaboration for academics from underrepresented groups,” says Malone. “I am extremely proud to be among the junior investigators honored with this prestigious grant," says Dr. Bravo. "This award will connect me to a network of established experts in research and evaluation related to health and health disparities, while providing me with an opportunity to evaluate a program that has far-reaching implications for achieving health equity and fostering healthy communities."

More information about New Connections is available at


The National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded Dr. Mercedes Bravo an $800k K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. The K99/R00 award is designed to facilitate a timely transition from a mentored research position to an independent research position. The award will provide up to five years of support, allowing Dr. Bravo to investigate the extent to which early life environmental and social exposures contribute to disparate educational outcomes.