The Community Engagement (CE) program bridges researchers and local communities, building sustainable partnerships to ensure that research initiatives meet real community needs. Researchers benefit by focusing on timely, responsive, culturally relevant research questions, while community members can directly influence research choices and academic-community relations. Moreover, CE provides support that ensures researchers understand the health needs and research barriers of special populations and works to facilitate new academic-community partnerships. As such, CE has developed a range of novel strategies and approaches to engage diverse communities and facilitate meaningful academic-community partnerships.

Engaging communities from different backgrounds and cultures is important to ensure that medications and interventions are effective for different groups. Many of the available medications and therapies were developed based on clinical trials that included a vast majority of White/Caucasian research participants, in spite of the fact that minority groups such as African American and Latino communities bear the greatest burden across various diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and some cancers. While minority groups are continuing to grow and make up a large proportion of the U.S. population, they are considerably underrepresented in clinical trial participants.

This lack of participation in research may contribute to the many health disparities we see in our most vulnerable and underserved communities. Engaging these communities requires different approaches, including providing culturally relevant educational information, listening to and responding to the communities’ fears and concerns about research and the healthcare system more generally, and empowering them to be informed research participants.

In the links below, we highlight some of the varying approaches our team has utilized when working with communities in order to help remove barriers to research participation. The work described here includes a variety of approaches to achieve these goals - community organizing, social marketing, integrating the research community into the lay community, and utilizing the power of entertainment to provide accurate and culturally appropriate messaging about health and research.

We expect that this is only the beginning of our work in this area and hope to continue to develop, test and deliver innovative approaches to community engagement that will lead to a reduction in health disparities and an increase in healthier communities across populations.

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Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati Co-Director, Community Engagement Details
Michele Kipke Michele Kipke, PhD SC CTSI Co-Director/CE Director Details
Katrina Kubicek Katrina Kubicek, MA, PhD Co-Director, Community Engagement / Director, Evaluation & Improvement Details
Karen Lincoln Karen Lincoln, MSW, MA, PhD Co-Director, Community Engagement Details

Team Members

Rosalba Cain Rosalba Cain Research Ambassador, Community Engagement Details
Sara Calderon Sara Calderon Research Ambassador, Community Engagement Details
Alma Garcia Alma Garcia Research Ambassador, Community Engagement Details
Mayra Rubio-Diaz Mayra Rubio-Diaz Program Specialist, Community Engagement Details
Natayla  Seals Natayla Seals Research Ambassador, Community Engagement Details

Community Advisory Board (CAB) Members

Regina Greer-Smith Regina Greer-Smith, MPH, FACHE Community Advisory Board, Community Engagement Core Program Details
Miriam Hernandez Miriam Hernandez Community Advisory Board, Community Engagement Core Program Details

Core Groups

ADMIN Administration Details
BERD Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design Details
CRI Clinical Research Informatics Details
CRS Clinical Research Support Details
CE Community Engagement Details
DIC Digital Innovation & Communication Details
EI Evaluation & Improvement Details
RKS Regulatory Knowledge & Support Details
RD Research Development Details
WD Workforce Development Details

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.