Health Equity

September 13, 2023

Office of Health Equity’s Innovation Award winners announced

VUMC’s Office of Health Equity (OHE) has selected four projects for the 2023-2024 Health Equity Innovation Awards.

One of the unique pieces of the HEIAs is being able to convene individuals across the entire VUMC community, from various departments and roles within our enterprise,” said Brian Marshall, Ed.D., senior program manager of the Innovation Awards. “Awardees come together to share knowledge, wisdom, and experience on ways to support one another in reaching a common goal of advancing health equity. It gives me hope for the future.”

The Health Equity Innovation Awards (HEIA) program supports innovative ideas and solutions to advance health equity, improving health outcomes for historically marginalized communities. The program is built upon the principle that there are assets, opportunities, and innovative ideas within VUMC and in our communities that can advance health equity.

The 2023-2024 awardees:

  • Development of an Onsite Food Resource Navigation Center to address Food Insecurity. Project Lead: Cristin Q. Fritz, MD, MPH, Pediatrics.
  • Evaluation of Discharge Readiness across Race, Ethnicity, and Preferred Language at Vanderbilt NICU. Project Lead: Gloria Akuamoah-Boateng, MBChB, Division of Neonatology.
  • Building Community Academic Partnerships to Address Youth Firearm Injuries in Nashville. Project Lead: Kelsey Gastineau, MD, Pediatrics.
  • Expanding Mayan Indigenous Language Resources for Vanderbilt Health. Project Lead: Hope T. Collins, MPA, Vanderbilt Interpreter Services.


Program Highlights

The HEIA program awards up to $10,000 per project and has supported twenty-three multidisciplinary teams since 2020.

  • 2022-23 awards included optimizing food resource connection in the pediatric department, facilitating patient connections to food resources, addressing health needs in people experiencing homelessness in Nashville and building capacity for community-based doula childbirth support.
  • 2021-22 awards focused on enhancing maternal health, Immigrant health, policy change, professional development, access to care, food and nutrition, culturally centered approaches to patient care and Social Determinants of Health breast cancer services for Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities, creating mobile clinics, and addressing the barriers that prevent low resource communities from receiving appropriate care.
  • 2020-21 projects included work to eliminate race-based estimated glomerular filtration rate Reporting, improve gender-affirming care, assessment and strategic planning focused on advancing health equity in resident training, data & measurement, access to medical care, transportation, policy change and increasing access to nutritious food for VUMC employees.

For the faculty, staff, trainees, and students involved, the program provides resources to test new approaches to advancing equity in research, education and healthcare while developing a supportive community of like-minded health equity scholars.

The 2024 call for proposals will be released in the fall of 2023. More information about past awardees and the call for proposals for 2024 can be found on the OHE website at (