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Collaborative academic-community partnership program to address health needs in Appalachia

The Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) centers at the University of Cincinnati/Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, University of Kentucky, Pennsylvania State University and West Virginia University have launched a new pilot funding program to support innovative, long-term collaborations between academic medical institutions and community partners with goal of improving health in Appalachia.

The Academic-Community Partnership Program is now accepting letters of intent for projects designed to stimulate the translation of clinical and translational research into effective practice and public policy, in alignment with the mission of the Appalachian Translational Research Network.

A unique aspect of this funding stream is that it requires a community partner to serve as co-principal investigator or co-investigator on the grant, and a shared leadership plan must be included in the application.

The pilot program will award a total of up to $100,000 in direct costs as a two-year pilot grant to strengthen or support the development of sustainable partnerships between academic researchers and community stakeholders for translational research.

Proposals must address health disparities for underserved populations in Appalachia including but not limited to outcomes measured by the Appalachian Regional Commission Report. Full details for proposals are available here.

“Our communities are rife with opioid abuse, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other medical problems, none of which can properly be addressed without a partnership between researchers, providers and the communities themselves,” said Dr. Philip A. Kern, director of the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science. “This research program is intended to form community partnerships, focused on a research project but with the intention of building a sustainable relationship that will provide the basis for future research into these community health disparities.”

Research activities may include, but are not limited to, conducting community assessments, analyzing existing data, pilot testing data collection instruments or procedures, conducting formative research on intervention strategies or messages, and testing intervention feasibility.

“Community members often know more about how diseases affect their daily lives than the researchers in medical centers. In partnership, we can think of ways to attack problems that are a big challenge for this region and for the country as a whole,” said Dr. Lawrence Sinoway, director of the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Dr. James Heubi, director of the University of Cincinnati Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training, echoed the importance of collaborative, community-engaged research.

“This new initiative will fill a gap in our pilot grant portfolios with opportunities for our academic institutions to partner with themselves and community groups in efforts to find solutions to problems that plague Appalachia. These pilots will serve as the impetus to develop robust, sustainable research programs in these important areas,” he said.

Letters of intent of the Academic-Community Partnership Program are due on Aug. 23, and applications invited for full submission will be due Oct. 27. Applications will be reviewed and ranked for funding priority.

The CTSA program is administered by the National Center for Advancing Translational Science at the National Institutes of Health with the goal of transforming the translational science process so that new treatments and cures for disease can be delivered to patients faster.

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