The Arizona Prevention Research Center was awarded $4 million by the Centers for Disease Control, aiming to support ongoing work with communities along the border to reduce the risk of chronic illness.

Maia Ingram, deputy director of the Arizona Prevention Resource Center, said diabetes is a particular debilitating disease within Latino communities in Southern Arizona.

For the past 15 years, her organization, which is part of the University of Arizona's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, has been working with community health centers in border cities to reduce the prevalence of diabetes and other associated chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

The group focuses on prevention.

"...getting physical activity, eating right...avoiding (being) overweight...obesity," Ingram said. "Those are really important risk factors for chronic disease."

Ingram said partnerships with health workers have been fundamental to the PRC's work in the past, and will remain so thanks to the CDC funding.

“The central focus of all of our programming has been the community health worker, who is a member of the community and really a bridge between the community and medical services, and to healthy behavior," she said.

The CDC is allocating nearly $20 million to prevention research centers at universities across the U.S.