BRONX, NY – November 14, 2014 – (HISPANICIZE WIRE) – Novel Research of New York (NRofNY), a research facility in the Bronx that conducts FDA supervised investigational medical studies to reduce disparities in clinical research and create new treatment options, is hosting the first summit for local entrepreneurs and health innovators to discuss how social media has an impact on the health of the community, and create game changing ways to do so. The Social Health, Social Impact event is free of cost and will be held on Saturday, November 15, 2014 from 3:15 pm to 6:15 pm at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. All donations received will benefit the The Gary Forbes Foundation.

“Balancing the uniqueness of heredity, environment, culture, and lifestyle with nutrition and fitness needs, is important to improving and preventing diseases like obesity and diabetes”

Catherine Lajara, Founder and CEO of Novel Research New York, has made it her mission to eliminate health disparities in the community by implementing locally based sourced initiatives that provide education on prevention, early detection and treatment. “I am excited to convene with so many likeminded individuals that are trying to make a difference in the community. The Latino community of the Bronx has outrageous obesity, diabetes, suicide and depression statistics,” said Lajara. “Through the power of social media influencers, we are trying to create a conversation around this epidemic to put a stop to it and inspire the community to take control over their health. Simple changes like eating better, exercising, drinking water, and speaking to a counselor, can go a long way,” added Lajara. “Unfortunately, our lifestyle and eating habits has become our worst enemy.”

According to the Health Department, the Bronx is now home to five of the city’s worst 10 neighborhoods for diabetes-related deaths. Latinos, who make up more than half of the Bronx population, have higher rates of the chronic disease than do African-Americans and Caucasians. In 2011, there were 5,695 deaths per 100,000 people. The Health Department is working to reduce those figures by promoting healthy eating, physical activity, increasing access to healthy foods, and educating people about the health risks associated with sugary drink consumption. “Change comes from within, and government helps make it a reality,” added Lajara.

Novel Research of New York is honoring Food Scientist/Clinical Nutritionist MeriTerese Racanelli, M.S., for her outstanding commitment to the community, achievements in health research, development, and strives in making the Bronx a healthier neighborhood for everyone. “Food and nutrition needs are not a one-size fits all, they can be as unique as a fingerprint,” explains Racanelli. “Balancing the uniqueness of heredity, environment, culture, and lifestyle with nutrition and fitness needs, is important to improving and preventing diseases like obesity and diabetes,” she added.

The summit will also shed light on professional basketball player and diabetes advocate, Gary Forbes, about his struggle with diabetes and what he has done to live with it. Supporting organizations include the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Goya, Sofrito Media Group, Capicu Culture, Coqui the Chef, Bronx Fashion Week, Chef Flora, Stiletto Media, YPP New Modern Medicine, the Gary Forbes Foundation and the YMCA. The event is being hosted by Rebecca Gitana Torres, the LifeStyle Remix expert. The full summit agenda includes:


Welcome by Catherine Lajara, Founder & CEO Novel Research of New York


Keynote presentation by MeriTerese Racanelli, M.S. Food Scientist/Clinical Nutritionist. The benefits of ancestral foods & reducing risks of hypertension, diabetes and obesity in the Hispanic community.
Food Demo by Chef Flora:


Capicu Chat – Raising The Bar: Living With Diabetes. George Torres interviews Gary Forbes, Pro basketball player and Diabetes Advocate


Social Health, Social Impact Panel: The influence of social media on diabetes treatment and self-care. A discussion on the power of social media as a key to accessing information and ultimately, on helping to improve diabetes care and self-management.

Moderator: Tania Lopez, Founder & CEO of Coqui the Chef


— MeriTerese Racanelli, M.S. Food Scientist/Clinical Nutritionist

— Judy Ouziel, Senior Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives Diabetes Prevention Program at the YMCA

— Dr. Yomaris Pena, CEO of New Modern Medicine

— Migdalia Rivera, CEO of Stiletto Media, LLC & Founder and Editor of


Social Health, Social Impact Award Presentation


Cooking demo by Coqui the Chef’s junior chefs and Health Education Specialist Chris Ackerman

— Networking

To join the movement and engage with her follow @CatLajara on Twitter and use the hashtag #ProyectoHealth. For more information about Novel Research of New York, visit: and more information about the summit or to RSVP, please visit:

About Novel Research of New York (NRofNY)
Our mission is to foster awareness and to eliminate health disparities by implementing community based initiatives to provide education on prevention, early detection and treatment. We believe these initiatives should include everyone involved, patients, loved ones and caregivers, to better understand the various disorders and how best to cope with them—and perhaps, eventually live better and healthier lives. In 2012, NRofNY was certified as a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise in the state of New York. NRofNY has served on the Latino Initiatives Committee of the American Diabetes Association.

About the Founder – Catherine Lajara
Passionate about health equity, women’s leadership, entrepreneurship and community development, Catherine Lajara is an award winning entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of Novel Research of New York. Catherine received the 2014 Charles B. Benenson entrepreneur of the year award and was a finalist in Ogunte’s 2014 Women’s Social Leadership Awards, a platform aimed at building a better world, empowered by women. Catherine is featured on Latinas Think Big™ a progressive platform and national tour, aimed at showcasing the innovative projects and talents of Latinas in the United States. Catherine was also a 2013 Urban Rebound Awardee as part of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education, and community support for women entrepreneurs.

About the Gary Forbes Foundation
The Gary Forbes Foundation is dedicated to giving back to teens who are living with diabetes. Professional Basketball Player Gary Forbes, who has Type 1 Diabetes, made it his mission to give back to those living with diabetes by starting his Gary Forbes Foundation, which strives to give advice and resources to teen diabetics or those in danger of getting diabetes. is a fun place for teens and young adults to read the latest news in music, entertainment, sports and art with one goal in mind: to learn more about living with diabetes.

About the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program gets to the root of the diabetes epidemic by helping those at high risk of developing the disease make lifestyle changes. The program focuses on healthy eating, increased physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Participants in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program meet in a classroom setting as a group with a trained YMCA lifestyle coach for 16 core sessions to learn and practice lifestyle skills. During the sessions they learn how to make healthier food choices, how to incorporate more physical activity into their daily routine and how to manage a healthy weight. After the initial 16 core sessions, participants meet monthly for added support to help them maintain their progress.

Studies show that lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction can delay the onset of diabetes by 58%. And, in pilots at our Vanderbilt and Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCAs, we’ve seen some real success. Visit to learn more.