Just Research Program Holds Successful Workshop on Research Equity

Gina Green-Harris, wearing a blue shirt, gestures as she speaks in front of a screen at a workshop.
Workshop co-leader Gina Green-Harris speaks to participants on June 2, 2023. (Photos in this story by Kristen Koenig, SMPH Media Solutions)

Just Research, a new program offered through a collaboration between the Center for Community Engagement and Health Partnerships (CCEHP) and the Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE), held its third session of a brand-new daylong workshop on June 2.

The workshop was co-led by Susan Passmore, PhD (CCHE Senior Associate Director) and Gina Green-Harris, MBA (CCEHP Director). The 22 attendees were a mix of investigators, research staff and community advisory board members.

A woman, who is seated at a table with other participants, makes a comment.
A Just Research workshop participant offers a comment.

Just Research workshops cover challenging topics such as the role of bias in research participation, principles of healthy community engagement, and effective communication within teams and in the community. They are free to participants.

Reaction to the June offering, which was held at Signe Skott Cooper Hall on the UW-Madison campus, was enthusiastic. One participant commented that the presenters “created a casual, fun, safe atmosphere but also kept the vibe going that we were there to do the work.” Said another, “Awesome moderators! Could not have asked for better.”

Several praised the variety in the day’s format—from role-playing exercises, to journaling prompts, to videos and discussion—as well as dedicated time to engage with others interested in similar research and equity challenges.

Participants smile at they take part in an activity at Signe Skott Cooper Hall.

The Just Research program as a whole, which also includes shorter seminars in addition to daylong workshops, is designed to help researchers and research staff learn skills that promote diversity in study participation and research equity.

The next daylong workshop is anticipated to be held in the fall; reach out to justresearch@ictr.wisc.edu or fill out this form to add yourself to a list for notification about future offerings.

Just Research is sponsored by the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) and supported in part by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health from the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP). WPP funds made this workshop possible.

–Jennifer Smith, ICTR


Talk Will Explore Successful Research Partnership Grounded in Milwaukee’s Latino Community

By Jennifer A. Smith

Founded over 50 years ago, Milwaukee’s United Community Center/Centro de la Comunidad Unida (UCC) is a busy hub for the city’s Latino community, with programs and activities for everyone from babies to senior citizens. It is also home to a robust health research department, part of a decade-plus partnership between UCC and UW-Madison’s Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE). CCHE is housed within the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, part of the School of Medicine and Public Health.

While research collaborations between universities and community organizations are often a “one and done”—or at least sporadic—effort, the partnership between UCC and CCHE has endured and flourished for a number of reasons. A key one is the presence of dedicated research ambassadors at UCC, who serve as important connectors between researchers and community members.

Those research ambassadors will talk about the partnership in a Zoom talk on Wednesday, Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Shary Pérez Torres, MPH, and Al Castro will present “Building a Successful Research Partnership with Community: Important Lessons from a Decade of Experience.” The talk is free and open to the public. (Find more details and register here.)

Headshot of Shary Perez Torres
Shary Pérez Torres, MPH

As Pérez Torres and Castro explained, the arrangement between UW-Madison and UCC began under the leadership of former UCC executive director Ricardo Diaz, who saw the benefits of research in terms of learning about the health of the community, offering programs to improve it and building organizational capacity. An official partnership was born in 2010.

Headshot of Al Castro
Al Castro

Says Pérez Torres, “The most important part (of the collaboration) is that the community has a voice, and the researchers learn how to communicate and work with the community respectfully, taking into consideration the cultural aspects of the relationship.”

Part of her and Castro’s work as research ambassadors involves guiding researchers who seek to engage with the Latino community, preferably as early in the process as possible. Pérez Torres, who has a master’s degree in public health, and Castro, who has been with UCC since 1994 and has a background in social work, can help them account for possible barriers while designing studies and understand nuances within the community, which includes people of different national origins, languages and educational backgrounds.

Their guidance includes big-picture thinking as well as individual details that can help or hinder a project’s success, like flyers to recruit research participants. The kinds of images and language used, where and when the research is taking place—all make a difference. “That’s feedback that we can give that will give researchers a better chance of having a successful kickoff” to their project, said Castro.

Castro and Pérez Torres can also connect researchers to organizations other than UCC, since not every project is a fit for them. Both are highly involved with the Milwaukee Latino Health Coalition, where they started a research committee.

In addition to helping researchers understand the community, Castro and Pérez Torres help the community understand the research process. Said Pérez Torres, “We explain the science behind the research and make them feel safe to ask questions. They may have questions and don’t know how to ask them. Being a part of the community ourselves allows us to build trust.”

Involvement in health research has brought a range of benefits for members of the local community, researchers and UCC as an organization, helping to grow its capacity, especially in areas like measuring outcomes and attracting additional funding. Since 2010, via UCC’s research ambassadors and its Health Research Program, UCC has been able to leverage about $2.4 million in new research or program development funding.

“The reason why they’ve been so successful is they’re very well organized,” said Susan Passmore, CCHE Senior Associate Director and Senior Scientist. “UCC has been very smart about growing their organization… they understand what research can do for them, and they have a lot of experience.”

Adaptation, not just translation

One success story is Pisando Fuerte, an adaptation of the evidence-based fall prevention program Stepping On. Pisando Fuerte is much more than a Spanish-language translation of an existing program. It is a culturally appropriate version for older Latino adults. On the University of Wisconsin side, this work was begun by Dr. Jane Mahoney; more recently, Dr. Maria Mora Pinzon has been leading the last stages of the research. The UCC team has been part of the adaptation process from the very beginning, serving on the advisory board tasked with identifying the elements needed to make the program culturally appropriate and feasible for organizations that serve Latino communities.

Making the program culturally appropriate involved creating a safe and welcoming environment for participants through music and other aspects. “There were a lot of things that were needed to make sure (seniors) felt like it was a program for them, for Latinos, and not like this is an English program that was just translated,” said Pérez Torres.

At the course’s end, a party with music, food and certificates of completion took place. Participants invited their families to the celebration. Follow-up evaluation revealed that most participants continued doing the exercises they learned, incorporating the balance and strength moves into their daily routines.

Moving community health forward

Critical to the partnership between CCHE and UCC is that it is respectful and mutually beneficial. For Castro, the research program has led to a deeper understanding of health issues in the community and the “upstream factors” that influence health disparities—which, in turn, leads to different kinds of planning. “We can use science to break some of those barriers”—disparities caused by structural racism—“and involve the community as participants or advisory board members or as research leaders,” said Castro.

As Pérez Torres noted, “If we’re not part of research, all the knowledge that we’re getting is not actually representative of what the community needs and what could actually affect—or not—the community. Little by little, people are starting to see the value of not just the research, but the systems change. We don’t want to stay in the same circle, we want to move forward.”

Continue reading “Talk Will Explore Successful Research Partnership Grounded in Milwaukee’s Latino Community”

Registration Open for Just Research Workshop – Advancing Researcher Skills for Research Equity


UW ICTR and the UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) are excited to launch the Just Research program with a full day workshop for researchers and research staff to be held on October 28, 2022, in Signe Skott Cooper Hall (School of Nursing).

Just Research is a new program for researchers and research staff to learn skills to promote diversity in study participation and research equity. Created from a decade of experience with community engagement, inclusive research practices, and the Building Trust initiative, Just Research is a partnership between CCHE and the Milwaukee-based Center for Community Engagement and Health Partnerships (CCE), and is sponsored by ICTR. Susan Passmore, Senior Associate Director of CCHE notes,

Susan Passmore

We are so excited to be offering this new program based on research done here at UW! Our goal is to provide access to knowledge and skills not often part of traditional research training and what could be better than working with Gina Green-Harris, who brings so much experience and knowledge.

This free workshop will be facilitated by Passmore and  CCE Director Gina Green-Harris. Participants can expect a full day of interactive exercises, skill practice, and discussion covering topics including the role of bias in research engagement, perspectives in community engagement, and effective communication.  Read more about local research underpinning the Just Research program

Click here for more information and to register.

Email justresearch@ictr.wisc.edu with any questions about this workshop or the Just Research program.  Just Research is supported in part by the Wisconsin Partnership Program.


Applications now open for STRIDE – Advancing Translational Research Workforce Diversity

Hands clasped in a circle

UW ICTR and the UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) is excited to announce the launch of the Success Together Reaching Independence, Diversity, and Empowerment (STRIDE) program. STRIDE is a mentored career development program designed for early career faculty from groups underrepresented in the translational research workforce.

The program provides a supportive environment and training in mentorship, scientific writing, grantsmanship and networking. The program also provides an opportunity for scholars to connect with underrepresented institutional leaders. In addition to STRIDE training opportunities, scholars are eligible for ICTR-sponsored pilot awards and other related ICTR resources.  Olayinka Shiyanbola, PhD, BPharm, Associate Professor of Pharmacy and CCHE Associate Director, is the STRIDE Program Director. Shiyanbola notes,

I’m excited to have the opportunity to enrich our mission-central initiatives to advance diversity and inclusive excellence. As both a HELI alumnus and a former KL2 scholar, I know the impact of ICTR support on career success. The STRIDE program will provide a holistic approach to delivering that support.

The STRIDE program is made possible in part through a grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.  For additional information about STRIDE, please contact Dr. Shiyanbola at olayinka.shiyanbola@wisc.edu or Terry Little at tlittle@uwhealth.org.

To apply, visit STRIDE Program Application.
Applications are due September 1, 2022.

Colorado Pragmatic Research in Health Conference, May 23-25, 2022

Register HERE before April 2 for the Early Bird Rate of just $175 (regular is $250).

Call for Poster Abstracts deadline March 28

Ideal for clinical and translational researchers, including statisticians, dissemination and implementation scientists, health services and public health researchers, program evaluators. Junior faculty with career development awards, fellows, and anyone wanting to learn and apply new methods directly from world-renowned experts are encouraged to attend.

COPRH Con 2022 offers two tracks: Pragmatic Measures & Methods track and Dissemination & Implementation Strategies track. The 2022 theme rounds out our three-year series following the evidence life cycle, focused on dissemination, sustainability, and de-implementation of pragmatic research. Learn about topics ranging from dissemination strategies, advanced analytics, complexity and systems science, and de-implementation of ineffective interventions.