Skip to main content

Community Research Day brings area agencies together

Nov. 7, 2013, 9:42 AM

The first Community Research Day, sponsored by the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance and the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community-Engaged Research Core, was held Tuesday at the MetroCenter headquarters of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.

About 80 people attended the half-day session, which aimed to “match” the research needs of local non-profit community agencies with those of researchers from Vanderbilt University, Meharry Medical College, Belmont University and Tennessee State University.

“This is an important connection,” said Consuelo Wilkins, M.D., executive director of the alliance and co-director of the Community-Engaged Research Core with Charles Mouton, M.D., M.S., dean of the Meharry School of Medicine. The core is part of the Vanderbilt Institute of Clinical and Translational Research.

“We think it’s very important that we support research that starts in the community and is led by the community,” Wilkins said. “Hopefully we’ll have some great partnerships develop out of this.”

During the past seven years, the core has provided 34 pilot grants totaling $134,072 to community organizations to help them build research partnerships, said Core Manager Yvonne Joosten, MPH.

“Our role is really to build academic-community partnerships,” Joosten said. “The fundamental idea behind that is that research that is informed by real-world situations is going to be more impactful, more translational.”

Recruiting people for clinical trials “is a challenge at any academic medical center,” she added. “We try to be the bridge, to help (academia) build more trusting relationships with the community.”

Posters describing the research needs of 17 community agencies lined the meeting room’s walls.

Representatives of the Siloam Family Health Center discussed efforts to assess the impact of community-based care for patients without health insurance, and an official of the Metro Public Health Department described the department’s “Health Impact Assessments” in transportation and social connectedness.

David Haas, M.D., a professor of Medicine who has led dozens of HIV clinical trials as principal investigator of the Vanderbilt Therapeutics Clinical Research Site, said he attended because “we have to expand community outreach.”

“There are still new (HIV) infections occurring,” Haas said. “HIV is affecting people who are not connected with the traditional (health care) system … We need to engage with the community so we can identify people early, get them into treatment and eliminate new infections, which is really, really hard.”

Patrick Luther, chief program officer for Nashville CARES, a local HIV/AIDS services organization, and a member of the core’s Community Advisory Council, said a goal of the program is to create a research community that can “improve the lives of people we serve.”

For more information, visit

Recent Stories from VUMC News and Communications Publications

Vanderbilt Medicine
VUMC Voice