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VUMC to launch Program for Health Equity Research

Dec. 29, 2023, 9:37 AM

 

by Kathy Whitney

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s new Program for Health Equity Research (PHER), which will kick off next year, aims to become the nation’s leader in health equity research that’s inclusive, supportive and diverse by creating a rigorous environment for application-driven research with rapid response to policies and practices.

The mission of PHER is to establish a community of scholars and collaborators across VUMC to generate and advance research to inform and guide innovative solutions that move beyond addressing health disparities but that also advance our understanding of what works, for whom, and under what conditions to promote health and health outcomes. PHER will be guided by the following goals:

  • Community building among health equity research scholars.
  • Collaboration and training in health equity research.
  • Health equity research workforce initiatives.
  • Health equity research pilot awards program.
  • Relationship building between health equity researchers and community experts.

Administratively, the program will be part of the Center for Health Services Research (CHSR) and is also supported equally by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health and the Office of Health Equity.

“This important new program will provide valuable resources and community-building activities for VUMC faculty and trainees engaged in studying and improving equity in health outcomes,” said Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, SFHM, professor of Medicine and director of the Center for Clinical Quality and Implementation Research and of the Center for Health Services Research.

EbeleMary-Anne Umeukeje, MD, MPH, and Velma McBride Murry, MS, PhD, will serve as co-directors of PHER.

Umeukeje is an assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension. She serves as a diversity liaison for the VUMC Nephrology Division, and a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the American Society of Nephrology. Her research aims to reduce the high morbidity and mortality associated with kidney disease by addressing psychosocial determinants to improve self-care and promote health equity in vulnerable populations.

McBride Murry, associate provost, Office of Research and Innovation at Vanderbilt University, holds the Lois Autrey Betts Endowed Chair, and is a University Distinguished Professor in Departments of Health Policy and Human and Organizational Development. Her research examines the significance of context to everyday life experiences of African American families and youth, focusing on processes through which racism, and other social structural stressors, cascade through families to influence parenting and family functioning, developmental outcomes, and adjustment among youth during critical developmental periods from middle childhood through young adulthood.

“Research is critical to reducing health inequities, and I’m delighted we’re expanding our focus on health equity research at VUMC. Dr. Umeukeje and Dr. McBride Murry bring a wealth of knowledge and complementary expertise, which will be vital to the success of PHER,” said Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Senior Vice President and senior associate dean of Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence.

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