As a pediatric nurse practitioner, Margaret Grey, DrPH, RN, FAAN, is well aware of the toll that chronic illness takes on young patients. That’s why she has pursued research that aims to improve the lives of children with type 1 diabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes in high-risk children and adolescents.
Dr. Grey’s research on coping skills training for teenagers with type 1 diabetes showed that it helps these young patients better control their blood sugar, which translates into reduced long-term complications. Leveraging teenagers’ interest in technology, she adapted this innovative program for the Internet and has also used it to study prevention of Type 2 diabetes in teens. She envisions a growing role for mobile technologies in helping patients manage and prevent other chronic diseases as well.
Combined with her role in the development of practice-based research networks in nursing, Dr. Grey’s experience in community-engaged research make her ideally suited for her role as Deputy Director of YCCI and director of the Community Research Core. “All research ought to have a piece of community engagement,” she said, adding that community-engaged research may not necessarily happen in the community.
It should, however, involve the community and address the concerns of its members. Dr. Grey and her team work closely with members of the New Haven community through the Cultural Ambassadors program, a group whose participation she considers to be integral to boosting community-engaged research and translation of findings within the community. She has also established ties with New Haven’s Mayor’s office and has created working groups with basic and clinical scientists, clinicians in the community, and community members to strategize research opportunities in areas that matter to New Haven’s residents.
Her commitment to strengthening Yale’s community-engaged research activities is evident in her emphasis to train young investigators in this type of research. As director of the Community Research Core, she has provided opportunities for them to develop projects and obtain pilot funding. She believes that mentoring junior faculty members “assures the future of science,” and has mentored more than 100 trainees during her academic career.
Dr. Grey notes that community-engaged research is interdisciplinary in nature and she has sought to leverage the expertise available at Yale by including leadership for the Community Research Core from across the medical campus. “I believe that by bringing together scientists from a multitude of disciplines with clinicians in our community health centers and community members, we can adapt innovative approaches,” she said. “Ultimately the collaborative work between the community and YCCI changes health in the area.”