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URMC / Clinical & Translational Science Institute / Stories / August 2023 / Meet Your Next Collaborator: Introducing the Health Equity Research Core Investigator Group

Meet Your Next Collaborator: Introducing the Health Equity Research Core Investigator Group

collage of health equity research core investigators

The UR CTSI’s Office of Health Equity Research (OHER) has launched a new Health Equity Research Core Investigator (HERCI) group that brings researchers together from across the Medical Center who are working in the health equity space. This new action-oriented group will help develop and execute the office’s research agenda, focusing on five research priority areas identified by community stakeholders.

“The goal is to foster mutually beneficial relationships among team members and encourage team-oriented research within the OHER, across the University of Rochester, and with different community sectors,” says OHER Founding Director Edith Williams, PhD.

Launched in 2022 as a key piece of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan, the OHER aims to increase the Medical Center’s capacity to conduct health equity research and ultimately establish the University of Rochester as a national leader in the field. The office brings researchers, clinicians and members of the broader community together as part of a learning health system—leveraging community-engaged research to inform and improve equitable care.

The HERCI is currently comprised of 120 faculty members, scientists, healthcare providers, and trainees who span many disciplines across the Medical Center and River Campus, as well as community leaders and members of city government whose work is aligned with the OHER’s mission.

“I was eager to contribute to and learn from other researchers who understand how inequities in many research processes and frameworks perpetuate health inequities in the community,” says Suzannah Iadarola, PhD, associate professor of Pediatrics and Public Health Sciences, about joining the group. “HERCI provides an opportunity to dismantle these biases and partner authentically with community stakeholders to promote more equitable practices and goals in our institutional research.” 

Within the group, core investigators form five concentration area teams aligned with the office’s community-identified health research priority areas: preventing and managing chronic illness, preventing gun violence, preventing substance use and mental health disorders, preventing re-incarceration, and safe and healthy housing. Each team has a faculty lead and meets on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to develop at least one project of excellence and other collaborative scholarship in their respective areas.

“For those of us who have been doing this work in silos, the HERCI has been an incredible opportunity to participate in university-wide collaborative efforts to provide greater visibility to health equity research,” says Amina Alio, PhD, professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and the Center for Community Health & Prevention, and associate professor of Clinical Nursing. “Through the concentration area working groups, the OHER provides a space for idea generation, peer collaboration and community partnerships to identify and address social and structural inequities that impact the health of our communities.”

As members of the HERCI, core investigators have access not only to like-minded collaborators, but to grant funding and a growing collection of OHER resources and services. In order to take advantage of those perks, core investigators must contribute to at least one scholarly publication and one grant application aligned with an OHER research priority area each year, and participate in consultations with the clinical enterprise, such as providing feedback on the development of quality improvement projects or assisting with interpretation of health equity dashboard data.

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Learn about HERCI members and their research interests in the Health Equity Researchers online directory.

Researchers interested in joining the HERCI group should contact Jeanette Bohn at OHER@urmc.rochester.edu.

Susanne Pritchard Pallo | 8/3/2023

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