Published November 2, 2021
The First Annual Research Day of the Community Health Equity Research Institute last week was a huge success. The event generated great interest throughout the UB campus and the community. We received 51 abstracts from university and community teams and over 80 people attended and heard presentations by faculty, community members and students on innovative research and projects that focused on health equity and on the social determinants of health.
“The large number of abstracts submitted is enormously encouraging to me in indicating that so many people are interested and invested in research in the area of health disparities and health equity. And the active involvement of community partners in presenting their work and attending the conference was terrific.” said Timothy F. Murphy MD, Director of the Institute,
The conference kicked off with talks by experts who set the tone for the day. After a short introduction to the Community Health Equity Research Institute by Dr. Murphy, Rev. George Nicholas, Senior Pastor of the Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church and Convener of the Buffalo Center for Health Equity spoke eloquently about the social determinants of health and the importance of addressing these determinants if we are going to eliminate health disparities.
He was followed by Henry Louis Taylor Jr. PhD, Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning, Director of the Center for Urban Studies and Associate Director of the Community Health Equity Research Institute, who talked about the importance of systemic racism and how racism is closely linked to adverse social determinants of health. Dr. Taylor is a preeminent expert in this area, having just released a comprehensive report on the condition of Black Buffalo, updating his landmark study from 31 years ago.
Kelly Wofford MS, Community Engagement Coordinator in the UB Center for Nursing Research, Founder and Director of Front Seat Life and a member of the Steering Committee of the Community Health Equity Research Institute then spoke about community-based participatory research (CBRP). She outlined the principles of CBPR, gave practical tips about how to initiate and perform research with the community and ended with a series of insightful questions that those who embark on CBPR should ask themselves before proceeding.
“The interaction and engagement of the participants with the keynote speakers and presenters was robust and reflected the underlying goals for the conference.” observed Susan Grinslade PhD RN, Clinical Professor of Nursing and Associate Director of the Community Health Equity Research Institute. “ The diverse audience of faculty, students, speakers, and members of the community contributed to the energy and dialogues. The topics were of great interest to not only the University community but the community at large.
After facilitated breakout group discussions on these three key areas, research teams presented posters of their work. Meeting attendees moved from room to room on Zoom to visit posters and discuss the work with presenters. While it is not the same as an in-person poster session, the remote platform worked quite well in generating discussion and encouraging interactions.
Anne Lally PhD, in the Community Health Interventions Lab in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, presented a poster on behalf of her team evaluating an innovative in-store intervention to improve the WIC shopping experience for families with young children. Dr. Lally commented that her experience presenting her poster “was a great success and I was able to make some meaningful connections for our work in the Community Health Interventions Lab.”
Research teams then presented a series of talks on research projects that addressed key health disparities, including postpartum maternal health, precision medicine, the race and ethnicity gap in access to kidney transplants and building trust when working with the community. These talks were followed by a series of three-minute rapid fire talks by researchers.
The conference culminated with a keynote talk by Xiaozhong Wen MD PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Rev. Diann Holt, Executive Director of Durham’s Maternal Stress Free Zone. They gave an informative and entertaining talk in which they alternated describing their perspectives on the formation of their partnership, which has led to pioneering work on the relationship of smoking cessation and breast feeding. It is an excellent example of research that is designed and conducted with the community in response to a community need.
“This was a wonderful first Research Day on which we have received a lot of good feedback. We are looking forward to engaging more faculty from a broad range of disciplines to work with our Institute in the area of health equity. This research day will the first of many. We are looking forward to holding our Second Annual Research Day in an in-person format!” Dr. Murphy said.