News

9.30.2014

Researchers Can Tap Into Resources That Engage Local Communities

In working with communities as culturally and ethnically diverse as those found in Miami-Dade County, investigators at the University of Miami have a wealth of resources available to help with their research.

The Community Engagement and Cultural Diversity Program of the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) can serve as an investigator’s first stop to learning about how to incorporate the needs of the community into all aspects of research and accessing experts who can help them connect with those communities.

In a series of videos produced by the CTSI and available online, directors of the Community Engagement and Cultural Diversity Program invite the UM research community to discover who they are and how they can help.

In one video, Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of public health sciences and a Director of the Community Engagement Program, said the goal is to work with the academic community and the broader metropolitan Miami area to facilitate opportunities for translational science. “One of the ways we do that is thinking strategically and critically on how to engage our local community in research,” Kobetz said.

In addition to introducing the program to a broader audience, the videos inform viewers of its services such as advisement on participant recruitment, feedback on collecting appropriate demographic information and training on community based participatory research (CBPR).

“We have an opportunity to infuse these two components, both community engagement and cultural diversity, throughout all aspects of the work that we are doing at the University of Miami whether in statistical methods or patient outcomes or educational programs, etc.,” said program Co-Director Guerda Nicolas, Ph.D., associate professor of educational and psychological studies.

Part of the mission of the Miami CTSI is to “culturalize” health sciences, a term coined to reflect how our research, training, and healthcare are exposed to and influenced by the culture of our highly diverse faculty, staff, students, patients, research participants and the community. By engaging in a bi-directional relationship with local community partners, researchers can better understand and address the health needs of the community.

“It’s important to recognize that 85 percent of our community is minority, and it is important that those views are reflected in the work that we do and inform our research processes,” said program Director Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and public health sciences and Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine.

Check out the videos and reach out to the Community Engagement Program through the CTSI website at www.MiamiCTSI.org.

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