UNT Research, Volume 16, 2006 Page: 33
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According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common
cancer for Hispanic women living in the United States, and these women are more likely
to die of the disease than other women because it was not detected at an early stage.
Evelinn Borrayo, who earned her master's degree at UNT in 1997 and her doc-
torate in 1999, is working to change the mortality rate by understanding why these -)
women are significantly less likely to engage in screening behaviors for cancers than
other women. An associate professor of psychology at Colorado State University, ,
Borrayo researches women's health, caregiving for the elderly and cultural health beliefs
among ethnic minorities.
She says the low percentage of Hispanic women who do not get mammograms
"has to do with social structures."
"These women tend to be of lower socioeconomic status and may not qualify for health insurance," she says.
"The U.S. healthcare system is also not congruent with their cultural beliefs."
For instance, she points out that mainstream campaigns for breast cancer screening focus on finding the cancer on
time and thus preventing death - messages that scare Hispanic women away.
"A better message may focus on breast cancer screening as a healthy behavior for Hispanic women and their fami-
lies, since their culture emphasizes family ties," she says.
In 2005, Borrayo was one of four recipients of the American Psychological Association's Presidential Latina
Leadership Citations for Early Career Psychologists. She was recognized for her commitment to improving the quality
of life for caregivers for the elderly as well as for her research.
Growing up in Dime Box, Texas, Eddie Ramos wondered how the world worked.
Today, Ramos applies that childhood curiosity to his studies of genetics as a post-
doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.
"It's exciting, it's new and you're on the cusp of really understanding in depth
how processes in the cell occur," Ramos says.
At UNT Ramos became a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, gaining research experi-
ence through the program designed to encourage first-generation or underrepresented
undergraduates to prepare for doctoral study. That paved the way for the rest of his t
research. After graduating from UNT in 1997, he earned a master's degree in molecu-
lar biology and a doctoral degree in genetics from Penn State University.
At Johns Hopkins, Ramos examines the organization of genes. His research with
a protein class called insulators could be used in treating diseases such as cancer.
"Without these insulators, you would get miscommunication and things could go awry," he says. "The biggest
driver for me is trying to understand the basics of what actually makes these things tick."
In the last 20 years, researchers have studied interactions with only one insulator and one gene type at a time,
Ramos says. But his research focuses on the whole system of insulators.
"It's a more true look at what's actually happening in the cell," he says.
In his quest to determine how genes might go haywire and how to stop that from happening, Ramos is beginning
to study stem cells in fruit flies.
"If we understand how insulators are working in stem cells, this can be used to study all kinds of diseases such as
Parkinson's disease, diabetes and cancer," he says.
UNT RESEARCH 2006 33
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University of North Texas. UNT Research, Volume 16, 2006, periodical, 2006; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29777/m1/33/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.