2020 Advancing Health Equity & Diversity Pilot Awards

The 2020 UW ICTR Advancing Health Equity and Diversity (AHEAD) Pilot Program will award grants to three UW investigators conducting health disparities research with underserved populations.

The AHEAD initiative is a program of the ICTR Collaborative Center for Health Equity and engages participants from multiple fellowship & postdoctoral training programs in the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) as well as other early stage investigators pursuing health equity research across the UW campus. Stephanie Budge, PhD, serves as AHEAD Program Faculty Director. Budge notes:

Stephanie BudgeWe were excited to receive the highest ever number of responses to the 2020 AHEAD pilot RFA! AHEAD is committed to providing constructive and supportive mentoring across our programming. For our next cycle of AHEAD Pilots, we plan to offer additional preparatory resources in order to prepare all applicants for award eligibility and submission requirements.

The 2020 project areas span the lifecourse, from looking at social media usage and bullying among Latinx and Black youth to resource utilization by dementia caregivers in the Oneida Nation. Awardees are:

  • Mollie McQuillan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, School of Education
    Mentor: Stephanie Budge, PhD
    Research: Investigating the Work Experiences and Health of Trans Workers in K-12 Schools
  • Alvin Thomas, PhD, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, School of Human Ecology
    Mentor: Janean Dilworth-Bart, PhD
    Research: Social Media Use and Parent Interruption: Expanding Considerations of Positive Youth Development
  • Mary Wyman, PhD, Advanced Fellow in Geriatrics, Madison VA GRECC
    Mentor: Carey Gleason, PhD
    Research: Understanding Resource Utilization by Dementia Caregivers in the Oneida Nation

Christine Sorkness, PharmD, Associate Director of CCHE adds:

We’re thrilled with the number and variety of applications submitted in this cycle and are so grateful to our esteemed panel of expert reviewers from across campus disciplines. It was inspiring to see so much interest in the AHEAD opportunity to fund health equity research projects and we had quite a difficult task narrowing down the awardees. In parallel, we were pleased to issue 2020 COVID-19 Response Grant Awards that ICTR supported with the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP).

Congratulations to all awardees!

See more about the previously funded AHEAD Pilot Projects.

ICTR Funds COVID-19 Response Awards

This post was updated Sept 29 to reflect an additional award.

UW ICTR has joined with the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP) to fund four 2020 COVID-19 Response Grant Awards. These four new awards extend the 22 awards previously announced by WPP to address urgent health needs imposed by the COVID pandemic. ICTR will support these projects through seed funding and in-kind support. Allan Brasier, Executive Director for ICTR, notes,

We selected four additional rapid response projects from this spring’s WPP Faculty-Led COVID-19 Response Grant applications. Starting from our ICTR Strategic Vision to Improve the Health of All in Wisconsin, our criteria included clinical and translational research with the potential to rapidly advance our response to this ongoing public health crisis. Importantly, these projects address health inequities in highly vulnerable populations that this pandemic has exacerbated.

By working with the WPP, we were able to select four highly innovative public health and healthcare projects. An exciting aspect of these projects is that they seek to increase the capacity to deliver health interventions in Wisconsin to lessen the impact of the coronavirus infection.

Christine Sorkness, PharmD, Senior Associate Executive Director of ICTR, adds,

Christine Sorkness

The Pilot Awards Team will connect these PIs with ICTR research resources, e.g., biostatistics services, the Dissemination and Implementation Launchpad, the Collaborative Center for Health Equity, and the Clinical & Health Informatics Institute, to advance these projects’ goals.


Clinical/Public Health Research
Project Title: UW-Health COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program
(As part of the National CCPP-19 Program)($50,000)
PI: William Hartman, MD, PhD, Department of Anesthesiology, SMPH
Co-PI: Betsy Nugent, Director of Clinical Trials Development and Accreditation/Chief Clinical Research Officer, UW/UW Health

In coordination with Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and other institutions, the University of Wisconsin-Madison joined the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program with the goal of developing a timely, coordinated, UW-centered convalescent plasma collection process, and delivering COVID-19 convalescent plasma to patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections.

Healthcare Delivery
Improving and Evaluating Virtual Health to Enhance Physical Distancing Measures in Wisconsin Nursing Homes ($75,000)
PI: Christopher Crnich, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine, SMPH
Collaborators: Elizabeth Chapman, MD and Ann Braus, MD, SMPH and James H. Ford II, PhD, School of Pharmacy

This project seeks to immediately reduce COVID-19 spread in Wisconsin nursing homes by collaborating with academic and community partners to generate knowledge on how to expand telehealth infrastructure to promote quality of care and safety. This work will directly impact resource-poor nursing homes, nursing home residents who are at higher risk for infection, and the providers and staff who take care of them.

Applied Public Health Research
Building a Public Health Reserve with Community Health Workers ($75,000)
PI: Deborah Ehrenthal, MD, MPH, Department of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics & Gynecology, SMPH
Collaborators: Kate Gillespie, DNP, UW-Prevention Research Center; Jane Mahoney, MD & Kate Williams, SMPH; Mei Baker, MD, SMPH and Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene; Al Bateman, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene; Paul Moberg, PhD, Population Health Institute

This study will design and pilot test a sophisticated, culturally appropriate strategy to support the rapid scale-up of strategies to accomplish population-level COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and ultimately vaccination. The project will focus on young and extended families who face higher rates of poverty and/or live complex lives, and will take advantage of the existing infrastructure of community-based programs and community health workers (CHWs) including home visitors, promotoras, and doulas. These CHWs are already working effectively with communities and with focused training could be rapidly engaged to address the needs of a second phase pandemic response.

Research Resources
Creating Infrastructure to Study the Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2 in Wisconsin ($20,000)
PI: Miriam Shelef, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine (Rheumatology), SMPH

This project will establish a biorepository of longitudinally collected clinical data and blood products from people who recovered from COVID-19. The goal is to establish the infrastructure to evaluate the immediate and long-term immune response to SARS-CoV-2 to address this fundamental problem in COVID-19 preparedness to reduce morbidity and mortality and to achieve the highest level of health for all people of Wisconsin.

Three New KL2 Scholars Selected for 2020

Three University of Wisconsin-Madison early-career faculty members will join the ICTR KL2 Scholars Career Development Program starting this summer! This year’s incoming scholars are:

  • Laura Eisenmenger, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology, SMPH
  • Adam Kuchnia, Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, CALS
  • Irene Ong, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, SMPH

Full profiles of both new and continuing scholars can be found online, including their complete mentoring teams.

This year’s incoming scholars completed a highly-competitive application process. They were nominated by their academic departments as part of a system designed to select candidates having both individual excellence and potential to lead multidisciplinary research projects with high translational promise. Manish Shah, KL2 Program Co-Director, comments,

Manish ShahWe pride ourselves on carefully selecting scholars who are at the best stage to take advantage of the KL2 program. In addition to rigorous research training, each participant has a carefully selected mentoring team who guides their professional progress, as well as their research program.

The KL2 program provides 75% protected time to assist scholars with developing an independent research program, plus monthly career development seminars and other trainings designed to promote key NIH research competencies for clinical and translational research. Corrine Voils, KL2 Program Co-Director, adds,

Early-career faculty members developing a research career need dedicated research time, the highest quality mentorship, and professional training to succeed. The KL2 Scholars Program meets these needs in a highly structured and customized manner.

Eisenmenger, Kuchnia, and Ong will join 10 other Scholars who participate in one of the NIH-funded, workforce development programs at ICTR. NIH support for ICTR is through the national Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program that funds 60 plus centers nationwide.

Recipients of externally funded independent career development awards, such as NIH or AHRQ K awards and VA Career Development Awards, are eligible to participate in the ICTR Mentored Research Scholars curriculum by arrangement. Please contact Ana Garić, KL2 Scholar Program Manager, to find out more (ana.garic@wisc.edu).


E2I Awards Support Moving Research Findings Into Practice

Three evidence-based interventions have been selected to receive the 2020 UW Evidence to Implementation (E2I) Awards. The E2I Award Program was launched in 2018 with two awardees, and expanded this spring to three awards. The E2I application process is unique in that finalists work closely with the D&I Launchpad to co-create a robust final application, which is then subject to a competitive outside review.

These awards help investigators who have developed high impact, evidence-based interventions in health care take the next step to implement their research findings in clinical and community health settings. In addition to direct financial support, E2I awardees receive comprehensive resources from the ICTR-CAP D&I Launchpad program. Such resources include help with development of toolkits, marketing materials, and comprehensive business plans.

The 2019 E2I awardees are:

  • I-SITE: Implementation for Sustained Impact in Teleophthalmology
    Yao Liu, MD, UW Department of Ophthalmology
    Previous ICTR Support: Translational Basic and Clinical Research Pilot Award (2016)
  •  Staying Healthy After Childbirth: A Program for Moms with High Blood Pressure After Childbirth
    Kara Hoppe, DO, UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
    Previous ICTR Support: CCHE Health Equity Research Fellow (2018)
  • MOVIN: Mobilizing Older Adults Via Systems-Based Interventions
    Barb King, PhD & Linsey Steege, PhD, UW School of Nursing
    Previous ICTR-CAP Support: Clinical & Community Outcomes Research Award (2013), Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Award (now known as SPER) (2017), Dissemination &Implementation Research Award (2018)

Complete list of awardees (2018-2020)

Jane Mahoney, Director of the Dissemination & Implementation Launchpad, comments,

Our D&I Launchpad team is very excited to work with this years awardees representing three innovative programs. These programs have incredible potential to make a significant impact on the health of Wisconsin and beyond. The Launchpad team’s expertise will help with the future growth and sustainability of these programs.

Growth in the E2I awards program reflects the underlying expansion in the D&I Launchpad program and the importance of translational research to the ICTR mission. As noted above, the award is only the first step in the ongoing commitment of the launchpad team to supporting the implementation plans of awardees.

For more information about the E2I Award program or other services, visit the D&I Launchpad page.

Read more about the E2I RFA

TL1 Pre-Doctoral Program Adds Team Science Training Component

Telephoto lens view of Bascom Hall, viewed through the trees on Library Mall during an late afternoon in spring.

A new dimension was added this year to the ICTR TL1 pre-doctoral training program. Applicants had the choice of applying using the existing process as individuals or with a new application designed for TL1 training teams. Teams are composed of two pre-doctoral trainees and two faculty mentors working collaboratively on a shared project requiring the intellectual contribution of team members from distinct disciplines. Mark Burkard, Co-PI of the TL1 Training Program, comments,

Mark BurkardWe began this endeavor as part of our participation in a national pilot study of team-science training. Originating at the University of Florida, this study expanded in 2019 to four sites including ICTR. Participating sites used a common application and evaluation process for training teams and will provide all TL1 trainees (team-based and individual) with a semester-long team science training workshop.

We expect the data to demonstrate that training in multidisciplinary teams is an efficient way for students to learn and master the skills (communication, emotional intelligence, leadership) necessary for undertaking complex, translational science projects during their careers.

In addition to the class planned for the fall semester for the TL1 trainees, the co-mentors received co-mentoring training facilitated by Christine Pfund and Beth Meyerand. Ultimately all TL1 trainees will be evaluated for such things as retention in clinical and translational research careers, overall productivity, and multidisciplinary nature of their research teams.

At UW, the two TL1 Team Science Pairs for 2019 include:

Neural Correlates of Abnormal Foot Force in Chronic Stroke

  • Trainees: Jenny Bartloff (Kinesiology) and Arman Kulkarni (Biomedical Engineering)
  • Mentors: Kreg Gruben (Kinesiology)and Vivek Prabhakaran (Radiology)

Describing the connection between neurological changes and abnormal foot-ground force direction control after stroke. This study combines various novel imaging modalities, big data analysis, and biomechanical measurements of balance and gait.

Novel Wearable to Quantify Tissue Load & Monitor Post-Op Recovery

  • Trainees: Sara Harper (Biomedical Engineering) and Keith Knurr (Clinical Investigation)
  • Mentors: Bryan Heiderscheit (Orthopedics & Rehabilitation) and Darryl Thelen (Mechanical Engineering)

Testing a field-based wearable device to monitor tendon stress among athletes after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery and inform clinical decisions about return to sport decisions. This study requires optimization of biomechanical measurements, and complex data processing, analysis and storage.

Three additional incoming TL1 Trainees join five continuing students for a total of 12 trainees in the TL1 program for the 2019-2020 Academic year:

  • Karly Cody (PhD Neuroscience, CTS focus; Sterling Johnson-Medicine)
  • Justin Jagodinsky (MD-PhD Cellular & Molecular biology, CTS focus; Paul Sondel-Pediatrics)
  • Maria Schletzbaum (MD-PhD Epidemiology; Christie Bartels-Medicine)

TL1 trainee applications for start dates in 2020 are due April 1, 2020.

The TL1 Trainees are part of the ICTR Graduate Program in Clinical Investigation.

Click here to see all incoming graduate students for Fall 2019