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URMC / Clinical & Translational Science Institute / Stories / October 2023 / Pilot Study in Health Equity Award Funds Research to Prevent Re-incarceration of Black Fathers

Pilot Study in Health Equity Award Funds Research to Prevent Re-incarceration of Black Fathers

composite image showing a Black man sitting in a jail cell on the left with a s white wash to a photo of a Black man holding his son in an airplane position

In this era of mass incarceration, imprisonment has become common in Black families, and incarceration of Black fathers has been shown to negatively affect family well-being and children’s academic and socio-behavioral outcomes. With support from a Pilot Study in Health Equity Award from the Office of Health Equity Research (OHER), Amina Alio, PhD, professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center, will establish a program to support Black fathers who have been incarcerated, as well as their families.

Dianne S. Morse, MDDiane S. Morse, MD 

Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Amina Alio, PhDAmina Alio, PhD 

Professor of Public Health Sciences

Alio and her co-investigator, Diane S. Morse, MD, will conduct a study to culturally adapt, implement and test the InsideOutDad fatherhood program for Black fathers incarcerated in Monroe County, New York. They will build on Alio’s current network in the field of fatherhood research and Morse’s network in the justice system to establish a regional fatherhood coalition, work collaboratively with stakeholders, and implement the project and future studies.

Previous research indicates that contact and stronger connection with families is important for helping incarcerated individuals transition from prison to home and can reduce re-incarceration.

“This is a great opportunity to build on our current efforts to increase fathers’ engagement in children’s lives,” said Alio. “This pilot award will provide important preliminary data to inform a future, larger project to provide incarcerated Black fathers with the skills to remain connected to their children and better reintegrate into their lives when they are released.”

OHER began soliciting applications for its new Pilot Study in Health Equity Award last spring. Health Equity Research Core Investigators affiliated with OHER are eligible to apply for these pilot grants, which support research in the Office’s key community-identified priority areas: safe and healthy housing, prevention of mental health and substance use disorders, prevention of gun violence, prevention of re-incarceration, and prevention and management of chronic diseases.

The awards enable researchers to test hypotheses and potentially provide evidence for larger external funding applications to organizations such as the National Institutes for Health, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. The grant program gives special priority to collaborative projects that incorporate multiple disciplines, are solution-focused, and involve community members and organizations.

“The Pilot Study in Health Equity award helps OHER’s investigators advance research they're conceptualizing, collect preliminary data, test targeted methodology or interventions, and provide evidence for larger external funding applications,” said OHER founding director, Edith Williams, PhD. “Pilot funding provides support to the Office’s affiliated investigators who contribute to grant productivity and other scholarship in health equity research.”

The grant program is sponsored by OHER and co-sponsored by three other programs: the University of Rochester Aging Institute, the Environmental Health Science Center/Institute of Human Health and Environment, and the Department of Public Health Sciences. 

Alio’s Pilot Study in Health Equity Award is co-sponsored by OHER and the Department of Public Health Sciences, as it aligns with a priority shared by both entities: the prevention of re-incarceration.

OHER aims to fund one pilot in each of its five research priority areas each year. Applications for the three co-sponsored awards must relate to the intersection of health equity research with aging, environmental health, or public health research. Co-sponsoring the award allows each unit to further its reach and impact by co-funding the $40,000 award for one year.

“I hope this inaugural award will inspire our affiliated investigators to submit letters of intent when the pilot study awards reopen next year,” said Williams.

The Pilot Studies in Health Equity award will open again in April 2024. OHER can fund up to five proposals depending on participating co-sponsors and the merit of applications received. Researchers interested in affiliating with OHER are encouraged to contact

Written by Jonathan Ghent

Michael Hazard | 10/16/2023

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