ACTSI Supports PCORI Award for Community Engagement Research

Jessica Sales, PhD

Jessica Sales, PhD was recently awarded funding for a Eugene Washington Engagement Award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Sales’ project, entitled, “Engaging Adolescents and Community Youth Advocates in Adolescent Health Outcomes Research,” aims to establish partnerships between African-American youth and Atlanta research networks to identify and address specific health outcome disparities of importance to the youth community. The research team will train adolescents and caregivers in the Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) process and establish a Youth Board and Adult Support Coalition with assistance from the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute’s (ACTSI) Community Engagement Research Program (CERP).

Dr. Sales’ project and the other projects approved for funding by the PCORI Engagement Award Program were selected through a highly competitive review process in which applications were assessed for their ability to meet PCORI’s engagement goals and objectives, as well as program criteria.

Learn more information about PCORI’s funding to support engagement efforts

Recognizing the health disparities facing youth in Atlanta, and the historic lack of involvement of this group in the research process, Sales is seeking to work with the community to address these health outcomes disparities. “African-American adolescents in Atlanta, especially those in low income communities, face a disproportionate burden of adverse health outcomes,” said Sales, associate professor, Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. “With this project, we plan to engage African-American youth in Atlanta and their caregivers as partners in the research process to identify and address health outcomes of importance to the community.”  Sales and her team will use a CBPR approach for this project, which recognizes the strengths and contributions of all parties in the research process. CBPR encourages equitable inputs from all those involved, in all aspects of the research, from the identification of the research topic to the dissemination of the results. 

ACTSI’s Community Engagement Research Program (CERP) is a core component of a collaborative effort between Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). CERP improves the way biomedical research is conducted and disseminated throughout Atlanta and across the country. CERP works to unite existing academic-community research partnerships, facilitate community input into university research, and to increase health research in community settings that is both responsive and relevant to the health needs of the community.

“CERP will assist our study team with identifying a potential research partner to work with the Youth Board and if necessary, assist with identifying youth, parents, or other supportive adults for our Youth Board and Adult Support Coalition,” said Sales.  Given CERP’s well-established infrastructure, it will also support this project by helping to match researchers with community partners and assist in training the research partners to prepare them for community engagement, an area in which CERP is well-experienced through its Community Academic Research Partnerships Grants Program.

The ACTSI is a city-wide partnership between Emory, MSM, and Georgia Tech and is one of over 60 in a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards, shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.

The project is part of a portfolio of projects approved for PCORI funding to help develop a skilled community of patients and other stakeholders from across the entire healthcare enterprise and to involve them meaningfully in every aspect of PCORI’s work.

PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.