CCHE Establishes Inaugural ‘CCHE Health Equity Research Fellows’ Cohort

Portrait collage (left to right, top to bottom) of Olufunmilola Abraham, Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi, Kara Hoppe, Jennifer Weiss, Ryan Westergaard, Yang Sao Xiong

The Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) team has nearly doubled in size in 2018, reaffirming the health equity priority of both the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) and the School of Medicine and Public Health.

This summer CCHE announced Dr. Stephanie Budge as the AHEAD Faculty Director and Dr. Angela Byars-Winston as a new CCHE Associate Director. In September, CCHE also welcomes Senior Scientist Dr. Susan Passmore as a new Assistant Director for Community Engaged Research. Dr. Passmore comes to us from the Maryland Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland, College Park where she was part of the team that developed the Building Trust Between Minorities and Researchers education programs including the Becoming a Self-Reflective Researcher: Successfully Engaging Minority Communitiescurriculum designed to strengthen the capacity of researchers to build relationships for effective recruitment and retention of minority participants in research. Stay tuned for information about ‘Becoming a Self-Reflective Researcher’ workshops to be offered here at UW.

In addition to the growing the leadership team, CCHE is also pleased to announce an inaugural cohort of CCHE Health Equity Research Fellows.

CCHE Health Equity Research Fellows have been selected for the excellent health equity research they conduct, which is aligned with CCHE’s Mission to build lasting partnerships and engage university and community partners in collaborative teaching, research and service initiatives to improve health equity in Wisconsin’s underserved communities. CCHE is establishing this inaugural class of Fellows to raise the visibility of health equity scholarship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, expand our research portfolio and support new interdisciplinary research collaborations on campus.

Fellows will receive a stipend to support their health equity research, and serve as ambassadors for CCHE, presenting on their research at the newly initiated monthly Health Equity Research Seminars to launch in Spring 2019, and participating as peer mentors with CCHE’s AHEAD and HELI career development programs.

The six inaugural CCHE Health Equity Research Fellows are: Olufunmilola Abraham (Pharmacy), Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi (Nursing), Kara Hoppe (SMPH-OBGYN), Jennifer Weiss (SMPH-Medicine), Ryan Westergaard (SMPH-Medicine), and Yang Sao Xiong (Social Work). Congratulations to all!

The CCHE team is excited to share this new feature to our programming and will continue to provide updates about our work!

Congratulations to HELI Alum Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi

Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi (center back) and her research team. Photo courtesy of Alexander Andre.

Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing and a recent recipient of an ICTR Collaborative Health Equity Research (CHER) Pilot Award, has received a Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging (K76) from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

Gilmore-Bykovskyi’s project, Novel Approaches to Identifying and Engaging Disadvantaged Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease in Clinical Research, focuses on improving access and engagement in Alzheimer’s Disease research among individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as racial and ethnic minorities and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Although individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are at significantly greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, they are disproportionately underrepresented in research. The proposed study will validate and trial Alzheimer’s screening and recruitment approaches tailored within acute care environments, which are underutilized in standard research recruitment strategies. The project will also support validation of electronic health record screening tools for Alzheimer’s and the specification of these tools for different populations.

Dorothy Edwards, Director of the UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity, notes,

Our team was delighted to learn more about Andrea’s fantastic community-engaged research efforts when she participated as a HELI 2018 Scholar. She has just accepted our invitation to join the inaugural cohort of CCHE Health Equity Research Fellows along with five other exceptional Fellows. Her work explores best practices in recruiting underserved populations into clinical trials using a combination of modern health informatics tools and tailored recruitment strategies. This is very important and timely work targeted to address persistent health disparities among diverse and underserved memebers of Wisconsin communities.

The Beeson award program is a collaboration between the NIA, the John A. Hartford Foundation, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).


Opioid Abuse & Viral Infections: UW SMPH Support of Rural Prevention Programs

As an Associate Professor of Medicine and Population Health Sciences, Ryan Westergaard, MD, PhD, MPH, is an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist who specializes in the treatment of HIV and viral hepatitis. He has a particular focus and passion to improve treatment of HIV in vulnerable, underserved populations.

Notably, drug abuse from injecting heroin and other opioids is commonly complicated by HIV or viral hepatitis infection. This risk is especially high in rural communities lacking adequate public health infrastructure, medical homes, and/or effective prevention programs. In Wisconsin, treatment admissions for heroin and other opioids tripled between 2005 and 2014 and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections increased at the same time.

Since 2011, Westergaard and his interdisciplinary team have created a research program to evaluate the role of non-clinical settings in coordinating delivery of essential prevention services. The team particularly concentrates on six contiguous rural counties of Wisconsin with peak opioid injection and HIV/HCV infection rates. With an NIH R01 award in 2016, the team began implementing and evaluating a novel community response model to support prevention services for high risk clients. Westergaard comments,

Ryan WestergaardOur project, the Client Centered Prevention Home model, reflects a partnership with the Aids Resource Center of Wisconsin. Much of our work is done through their field sites in northern Wisconsin and we observed that a considerable number of Native American participants were enrolling. We knew we wanted to explore a collaboration with one or more of the tribal communities.

Because our work is so community focused, we have received a lot of support over time via the UW Community Academic Partnerships core and the Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE). So we knew who to turn to for advice.

Westergaard and Assistant Scientist, Wajiha Akhtar, PhD, contacted CCHE Administrative Director, Sarah Esmond, to introduce the research and explore how best to raise visibility about the project with tribal leaders. She promptly connected with Gail Nahwahquaw, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Office of the Secretary and Tribal Affairs Director. Nahwahquaw confirmed time for the project team to present at the next Wisconsin Tribal Health Directors meeting. Esmond then notified Melissa Metoxen, a community and academic support coordinator with the UW Native American Center for Health Professions (NACHP). As a member of the Oneida Nation, Metoxen was able to provide insight about how to prepare the team for their presentation to the Directors. Metoxen notes,

Melissa MetoxenWestergaard worked with NACHP to seek knowledge around working and pursuing partnerships with tribal communities. We appreciated his awareness in knowing that our communities are unique, especially given we are sovereign nations. Working with our communities often means working with tribal leadership, tribal governance bodies, and more. We were happy to assist in this effort and look forward to Westergaard creating sustainable relationships with some of our communities.

Esmond adds,

Sarah EsmondWestergaard’s work with NACHP and CCHE is an exciting case study of the efficiencies and partnerships that can result when investigators are willing to prepare for working in community settings in advance. This approach is always important when creating trusting community-academic partnerships, but is particularly significant when projects involve sensitive topics, stigmatizing behaviors, and/or engage communities from which individuals have been underrepresented in or treated poorly as part of research.

Another important step will be to establish collaboratively with our tribal partners how to share the research data with communities. For Westergaard’s project, tribal clinic staff and health directors will have a strong interest in understanding the data and strategizing how to use it to advance positive community health outcomes.

Westergaard’s work would not be possible without ICTR support. The project received an ICTR Type 2 Pilot Award in 2013, and expert guidance from the Community Academic Partnerships core and the Collaborative Center for Health Equity, which both promote work that strives for health equity through community partnership. His projects also use the services of the ICTR Scientific Review Committee, as part of review by the UW Institutional Review Boards.

Click here to arrange a free consultation about translational research.

Maternal-Fetal Health Focus of 2018 AHEAD Pilot Awards

The UW ICTR Advancing Health Equity and Diversity (AHEAD) Pilot Program has awarded two new grants in response to the 2018 RFA. The ICTR Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) is home to the AHEAD program administration, and CCHE faculty affiliate, Stephanie Budge, School of Education, serves as faculty director. Budge notes:

Stephanie BudgeI am very pleased that one of my first privileges as incoming director of AHEAD is to preside over the selection of this year’s AHEAD Pilot Award winners. As a former AHEAD Scholar and Pilot Award recipient myself, I know the key role that pilot awards can play not only in terms of providing resources, but also in supporting interdisciplinary projects and mentoring for individuals whose research focuses on health disparities/health equity. Congratulations Linnea and Madelyne!

Budge recently replaced Carmen Valdez, who is beginning a new position at the University of Texas at Austin. Read more.

Both of this year’s awardees are conducting research addressing prenatal care. Disparities in infant mortality and pregnancy outcomes continue to be a persistent and challenging issue to address across Wisconsin and the nation, and particularly with individuals who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health care based on racial or ethnic group membership.

Linnea Evans, PhD, MPH, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Health Disparities Research Scholar Program, UW School of Medicine and Public Health
Mentors: Stephanie Robert, UW School of Social Work; Deborah Ehrenthal, UW Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Population Health Sciences
Research: Effects of Stress on Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Hypertension and Pregnancy Outcomes

Madelyne Greene, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Health Disparities Research Scholar Program, UW School of Medicine and Public Health
Mentor: Deborah Ehrenthal, UW Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Population Health Sciences
Research: Understanding Implementation of Prenatal Care Coordination in Wisconsin Counties

Pilot Awards Program Funds 22 Projects for 2018

ICTR granted 22 awards totaling $1.6 million for the 2018 Pilot Awards Program competition. Five of those awards were co-funded with campus partners; one each by the UW Waisman Center and the Department of Radiology, and three by the UW Carbone Cancer Center. Likewise, ICTR participated as a co-funder for two awards in the UW Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Pilot Awards Program. Such braided funding has been a hallmark of our pilot awards program for a number of years and allows ICTR to fund additional meritorious pilot awards that otherwise would not be possible.

Complete list of awards.

Five award types are included in this month’s announcement. They include Translational Basic & Clinical Pilot Awards (10), Novel Methods Pilot Awards (4), Clinical & Community Outcomes Research Pilot Awards (4), Dissemination & Implementation Research Awards (3), and a Stakeholder and Patient Engaged Research Award (1). Other ICTR pilot awards announced earlier in the year include the new Evidence to Implementation (E2I) awards and the Collaborative Health Equity Research (CHER) awards. Read more on our funding opportunities page.

Christine Sorkness, ICTR Senior Associate Executive Director, notes:

We are thrilled with this cohort of pilot awardees on multiple levels: We have an outstanding group of principal investigators representing schools from across campus including the School of Business, the School of Human Ecology, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as from the UW schools and college making up the ICTR partnership.

In addition, many of the proposals shine a health equity lens on health issues across Wisconsin. As well as interventions targeting Milwaukee community members from low-income and/or minority households, there are projects testing interventions to improve rural health. Finally, the health issues addressed by this year’s awards are of importance across the lifespan including issues specific to pediatric and geriatric populations.

Overall, pilot projects focus on research likely to lead to a direct impact on human health and that span the entire clinical and translational research spectrum. Examples include understanding sudden infant death syndrome, analysis of clinical workflows, increasing ambulation by geriatric patients, and improving breast cancer follow-up.

ICTR provides a variety of resources to investigators that support their research and enhance their ability to obtain research funding including ICTR Pilot Awards.

Maureen Smith, ICTR Director for Community-Academic Partnerships, comments:

Maureen Smith, MD, PhD, MPHMany of the applicants for Community Engagement and Research (T2 to T4) awards developed exceptional proposals with meaningful stakeholder engagement components by leveraging ICTR-CAP resources.

Some investigators took advantage of consultations with  ICTR-CAP Programs/Affiliate Programs, others completed the Certificate in Clinical & Community Outcomes Research, and still others incorporated feedback from the External Community Review Committee from previous application rounds.  Well done, 2018 pilot awardees!

Groundbreaking Interventions Selected for New ‘Evidence to Implementation’ Awards

After a competitive application process, two evidence-based interventions have been selected to receive the new ICTR-Community-Academic Partnerships (CAP) Evidence to Implementation (E2I) Awards that provide implementation support for high-demand, evidence-based interventions.

In addition to direct support, E2I awardees receive comprehensive in-kind resources from the ICTR-CAP D&I Launchpad program to help their healthcare advances make the successful, sustained leap from research to practice.

Maureen Smith, Director of ICTR-CAP, notes:Maureen Smith, MD, PhD, MPH

Both projects, a Tai Chi program for seniors to improve their balance and stability and a peer-to-peer coaching institute for improving surgical education and performance, represent evidence-based interventions developed with support from ICTR-CAP research funding.

Working with their UW and community partners, these awardees will be able to leverage ICTR-CAP D&I Launchpad services to more effectively and efficiently disseminate their projects. Congratulations!

  • Tai Chi Prime for Community-based Falls Prevention
    Betty Chewning, PhD, UW School of Pharmacy
    Previous ICTR-CAP Support: 2015 D&I Research Award, Improving Balance for Older Adults: Disseminating Tai Chi Fundamentals Through Community Organizations
  • Wisconsin Surgical Coaching Program™ (WSCP)
    Caprice Greenberg, MD, UW Department of Surgery, WI Surgical Outcomes Research Program
    Previous ICTR-CAP Support: 2012 CCOR Pilot Award, A Video Analytic Approach to Deconstructing Surgical Skill

Click here for a detailed description of these two awards.

Jane Mahoney, Associate Director of ICTR-CAP for Implementation Science, notes:

The D&I Launchpad Team couldn’t be more excited to work in partnership with these two important, innovative and evidence-based programs. Both programs have incredible potential, and we look forward to putting the Launchpad team’s expertise to work to help them thrive.

Mahoney recently expanded her role within CAP to better assist with the ICTR goal of impacting health by bringing more high quality, evidence-based innovations, such as those developed by the E2I awardees, successfully into practice.

For more information about the E2I Award program and the 2019 RFA, contact Melody Bockenfeld.

Read more about the E2I RFA


WINRS Staff Member Honored With Excellence in Research Award

Gay Thomas, director of Stakeholder Engagement for the Wisconsin Network for Research Support (WINRS) was honored in April with a Chancellor’s Academic Staff Excellence Award. WINRS is part of the federation of the programs allied with the ICTR Community Academic Partnerships group that provides assistance with stakeholder engagement to clinical and translational researchers. WINRS is headquartered in the UW School of Nursing, a UW ICTR partner school

Thomas is one of the creators of CARDS® (Community Advisors on Research Design and Strategies). CARDS is a signature program of WINRS that is comprised of focus groups of Madison community members from diverse racial, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds who are trained to give feedback to investigators on recruitment plans and materials, consent forms, survey or interview questions, smartphone apps, websites and more. CARDS has consistently outstanding reviews from investigators and research teams for constructive and effective critical review.

Read more about Thomas and her work as part of the university press release describing all nine 2018 winners of Chancellor’s Academic Staff Excellence Awards.




First Collaborative Health Equity Research Pilot Awards Announced

Two black women discussing diabetes education in a book filled room.

The new Collaborative Health Equity Research (CHER) Pilot Award has announced its first awardees. Olayinka Shiyanbola (School of Pharmacy) and Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi (School of Nursing) each received $50,000 to support community-engaged research projects focused on health disparities.

The health issues addressed by these research projects, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, are both ones for which considerable disparities exist in disease burden and prevalence. Applicants are required to cite published evidence that the health disparity or inequity is recognized by state or federal agencies as significant and warranting intervention.

Full description of the research awards.

Like several other pilot awards, the CHER pilots will allow investigators to collect preliminary data for future grant applications. In addition, these awards have an explicit commitment to the career development of early stage investigators and require applicants to identify a senior mentor and form an interdisciplinary team.

The award program was jointly developed by the ICTR Community-Academic Partnerships core (ICTR-CAP) and the UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) as part of their shared mission to support community-engaged research.

Maureen Smith, Director of ICTR-CAP core, comments:

Maureen Smith, MD, PhD, MPHICTR-CAP proudly supported the launch of the new CHER award. All the T2 to T4 funding mechanisms encourage health disparities research, support mentorship of early career investigators, and provide incentives for community and academic collaborations. The new CHER award is unique in requiring all three of these components for a successful proposal. Congratulations CHER awardees!

Christine Sorkness, ICTR Senior Associate Executive Director, adds,

Christine Sorkness, PharmDThis award program builds on the existing AHEAD pilot awards program that ICTR  administers for the campus Advancing Health Equity and Diversity initiative. CCHE plays a major role in supporting post-doctoral or junior faculty scholars through that program and the new CHER awards are a natural progression. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to facilitate these two excellent research projects from Olayinka and Andrea in collaboration with our colleagues from CAP.

Read more about the initial release of the CHER RFA last August.

Largest Class of Clinical Investigation Students Enrolled Fall 2017

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

Four PhD students and six masters degree students in Clinical Investigation started in September 2017, together with eight PhD students in Clinical and Translational Science (CTS, former PhD minor). They joined a select, very active community of students (31 current) participating in the degree programs administered by UW ICTR. In addition, six of the eight CTS students were also appointed to positions in the  TL1 training program for pre-doctoral scholars.

A complete list of doctoral and masters students entering in September.

Rob Lemanske, ICTR Deputy Executive Director and director of training for the graduate program, notes:

Rob Lemanske, MDWe are happy to welcome the largest incoming class ever in the eight years since the Clinical Investigation degree program was approved. In addition, half the incoming class initially worked on a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Clinical Research. By design, the Certificate shares a core of foundational courses with the master’s and the doctoral degree programs.

Hence, students can start with a certificate to test the waters for the fit of academics with their busy professional lives. Like many prior entrants into the program, nine out of ten entering students this year are returning adult students who are fitting coursework into new faculty, fellowship, and scientist positions. Welcome!

Applications to the Masters and PhD programs in Clinical Investigation for the 2018 class are due Feb 1.

Admissions this year is via a new online process through the UW Graduate School. Applications to the CTS (or PhD minor) program are accepted throughout the year. Read More.

ICTR also administers a TL1 Predoctoral Training Program as part of its Clinical and Translational Science Award from NIH. With the renewal of the ICTR grant this fall, we were able to increase the total number of trainees supported to 10 from the six in previous years.

This training program includes a stipend, health insurance, tuition and fees, travel funds, a monthly writing workshop, and biannual mentor meetings. Trainees must be pursuing either the PhD in Clinical Investigation or have added the PhD-CTS degree to their major field of study. The RFA for the 2018 TL1 Predoctoral Training Program will be released at the end of January, with applications due March 15.

A complete list of current TL1 trainees, their mentors, and fields of study (scroll down).