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 PhD in family resource management from The Ohio State University with a specialization in finance. Gutter’s research focuses on examining how socioeconomic status, financial education, personal psychology and financial socialization are related to financial behaviors. His outreach focuses on improving financial behaviors by increasing knowledge, skills and access to services.

Dr. Gutter’s outreach projects include Managing in Tough Times, Florida Saves, Get Checking, Military Family Learning Network and the Florida Master Money Mentor. His projects focus on enabling access to resources and services as well as improving people’s knowledge and understanding about family resource management. These projects have had funding from the Consumer Federation of America and Bank of America.

Research Interests

My work has focused on the role of information as influencers of decisions regarding mortgages, borrowing for education and retirement decision making use of survey and experimental design. My current work is shifting into applying these concepts within the intersection of financial and healthcare decision making. Utilizing that research and a leadership role with Cooperative Extension, I have been able to implement programs and interventions in communities in collaboration with local County Extension Agents. My programs have emphasized creating supportive mechanisms for those who are facing financial burden or challenging economic decisions. For the last several years, I worked with the UF CTSI and the UF Health Cancer Center to further explore this potential with a clinical randomized study integrating financial counselors for patients indicating financial toxicity. My research and outreach projects have been funded by FINRA, Bank of America, National Endowment for Financial Education, Department of Defense, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the UF Health Cancer Center, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I have published numerous articles related to behavioral economics, economic psychology, financial behavior and financial vulnerability.

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 2000 graduate of Hampton University where she received her bachelor of science degree in cellular and molecular biology. Additionally, she received her PhD 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. Her current research aims to identify the genetic drivers of cancer disparities with a focus on the breast and prostate cancer, two (2) cancers with high mortality rates in the African American community.

Dr. Ricks is committed to diversity & inclusion through research education and training, and is particularly adept in the areas of grantsmanship, organizational leadership, clinical-translational methods and transdisciplinary team science approaches. In her spare time, Dr. Ricks uses her cancer biology background in service to her community by educating about cancer screening recommendations, participation in clinical trials and engaging diverse communities precision medicine research. Interacting directly with the community has inspired her to become a greater advocate for cancer screening especially in communities where cancer incidence and mortality is high.

She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the The Links, Inc., organizations dedicated to the implementation of programs that impact health disparities in the global community.

Areas of Expertise Cancer Epidemiologist | Population Sciences | Genomics | Genetic Epidemiology | Precision Medicine | Clinical-Translational Medicine | Next Generation Sequencing | Microbiome | Bioinformatics | Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Biospecimen Science |Cancer Genetics & Genomics | Public Health Genomics | Molecular Biology | Health Disparities | Cancer Disparities | STEM Education in Minorities and Women