Skip to Main Content

Community-Engaged Research (CEnR)

Photo by Robert A. Lisak

The foundation for community-engaged research has been in place at Yale for almost 40 years via the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, now National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP), the program which became a bedrock for the education of the next generation of investigators to conduct high-impact community-engaged research. A key contributing factor is driven by the engagement of the SC, a core group of 27 volunteer members including representation from local city government, executive directors of community-based organizations, and dean-level representation from four other academic institutions within Greater New Haven, with 51% non-Yale-affiliated. Chaired by a longstanding community partner, Natasha Ray (Director of New Haven Healthy Start) and co-chaired by Dr. Nunez-Smith, 80% of 2005 inaugural members are still active.

The SC meets monthly to provide strategic input on translational research projects. The SC sets and prioritizes a research agenda, recently initiating submission of its own extramural grant applications in addition to collaborations with other investigators. The SC is taking the lead on shared guidelines to standardize student and CBO experiential learning and CEnR expectations, ensuring bi-directionality and cultural responsiveness in training.

The first city-wide Community Research Innovation Summit, Sept, 2018, co-supported by YCCI and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven highlighted ongoing CEnR work. With funding from PCORI, supported by the Informatics Core, the group developed, and beta tested, an interactive platform to support data access and data sharing with non-academicians including study participants and CBO’s. This platform, developed with participatory design approaches, supports the univariate and bivariate analyses of aggregated data; output includes a visualization display of the findings and a brief interpretation.

The SC successfully supported >35 research projects engaging with >30 community-based organizations and co-authoring >20 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Nationally recognized examples include designing a model medical respite program at Columbus House, a New Haven homeless shelter, for the safe hospital discharge of patients with housing instability and founding Project Access New Haven to link underinsured and uninsured patients with subspecialty care. These two projects alone have positively helped >1500 patients. During this time, almost 60 Yale postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty have been trained in the principles and conduct of CEnR; this training has helped these investigators successfully compete for over $20M in extramural funding.