Importance of Culturally Responsive Research: UB CTSI to host Community-University Collaborations in Research Workshop Series


Published August 20, 2019


By Himangi Marathe, PhD, Ashley Regling, MA and Megan Wilson-Crowley, MPA

The University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s (CTSI) Workforce Development and Community Engagement cores will be co-hosting a monthly, three-part Community-University Collaborations in Research core competency workshop series beginning in September.

The series combines the core competencies of community engagement and cultural diversity.

The goal of Community-University Collaborations in Research workshop series is to bring together community and university partners to discuss the importance of research collaborations, specifically those aimed at creating culturally responsive research and addressing health disparities.

“Research provides evidence that can be used to advance changes in healthcare,” said Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD, Director of Community Translational Research in UB’s Department of Family Medicine and Director of Community Engagement for the CTSI. She emphasizes, “In order to make sure that everyone benefits from those advances, we need to create an inclusive culture around research. This workshop series is an excellent opportunity for the university and community to engage in dialogue and discuss ways to further collaborate, especially around these particular communities.”

Organizers hope that the series will establish a dialogue between community and university partners, thus helping to identify issues experienced by traditionally underrepresented communities which may be addressed by community engaged collaborative research. Fortifying research partnerships with community leaders who are engaged with disparities impacted communities may lead to improved grass-roots implementation of innovative solutions impacting community health.

“Engaging university and community partner teams around topics of mutual interest will bring together all players contributing to significant advances in healthcare and resolving health disparities,” said Margarita Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Director of the CTSI Workforce Development core.

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The kickoff workshop will take place on Thursday, September 12 and will focus on research involving the Refugee, Immigrant and Latino communities. Since 2002, Buffalo has become the home to about 16,000 refugees. Moreover, according to the 2018 US Census Bureau, 11.6% of Buffalo’s population identifies as Hispanic/Latino. Taken together, these communities provide an excellent starting point for discussing the implementation of culturally responsive, community-based research.

The second workshop is scheduled for Thursday, October 10 and will focus on research involving mental health. Globally, mental health issues previously thought to affect a small percentage of the population have now become the leading cause of disability. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one out of five adults in United States experiences a mental health concern. This statistic combined with the current sociopolitical climate underscore the importance of breaking the stigma surrounding mental health. The goal of this workshop is to create an inclusive atmosphere to encourage an open discussion about available local resources. This workshop may help in formulating new partnerships between research and local mental health clinics to improve quality of care and spur ideas about future interventions.

The final workshop, centered on research involving the LGBTQ community, will occur on Thursday, November 7.  LGBTQ individuals suffer from a number of disparities associated with social stigma, homophobia and discrimination on multiple fronts, especially in healthcare. This community was selected in order for attendees to take a closer look at different ways to foster a more inclusive atmosphere at UB that extends to both academics and research, eventually translating into inclusive healthcare.

Workshops will be held 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Buffalo locations and are free of charge to both university and community members. Each workshop will consist of a diverse, community-friendly panel designed to engage the audience in discussion about perceived barriers to conducting research with the communities of focus. Attendees will also gain a sense of how inclusive research is crucial when it comes to developing new and relevant approaches to treatments and interventions.

All the workshops are supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers UL1TR001412 and KL2TR001413 to the University at Buffalo. For any questions, please contact the