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Office of Health Equity Research

Transforming health and achieving equity through research.

Our local community, like communities across the nation, suffer tremendous health inequities that are driven by fundamental structural issues, like systemic racism. The Office of Health Equity Research (OHER) aims to go beyond documenting these inequities to develop and effectively disseminate interventions that ensure health equity. The office supports and synergizes research and training to improve the health of the most vulnerable residents of Rochester and beyond.

Our Mission

The office is part of the fifth pillar of URMC’s Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan, which aims to establish URMC as a national leader in health equity research and education, specifically focusing on the impact of racism on health and development. The office will support innovative health equity research across URMC to foster a deeper understanding of the root causes of health disparities and the burdens experienced by excluded groups, and to facilitate the translation of findings into more equitable care.

We are particularly focused on five high priority areas defined by our community:

  • improving access to safe and affordable housing,
  • violence prevention,
  • chronic disease prevention and management,
  • decreasing re-incarceration through policy,
  • and promoting well-being to prevent mental health and substance use disorders.

The office is currently assessing the health equity education needs and research capacity at URMC and actively collaborating with community partners to determine the health equity research direction for URMC. In the future, the office plans to support researchers by providing pilot funding, promoting new research partnerships and developing training and technical resources.

Our People

Edith Williams, PhDOHER founding director, Edith Williams, Ph.D., has a background in Epidemiology and Community Health with a robust research program primarily focused on disease outcomes among Black/African American women with lupus. Williams has set the strategic vision for the office and is building it as a central resource for health equity researchers across the University of Rochester.

OHER’s strength also lies in its diverse and committed community of collaborators, which is founded upon the voluntary membership of over 130 health equity research faculty from across the university. These faculty members represent a variety of disciplines: nursing, environmental medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, psychiatry, oral health, immunology and rheumatology, pediatrics, and public health.