Matt Schorr
August 20, 2020

Nashville, Tenn. Stephania Miller-Hughes, PhD, MS, MSCI, Associate Professor in Meharry Medical College’s (MMC) Department of Surgery, has been approved for funding through the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards program, an initiative of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The funds will support a 1.5-day Community Engagement (CE) Studio Summit. The CE Studio model is a disease- and condition-agnostic, structured approach that facilitates meaningful engagement of community and patient/patient stakeholders in all research phases.

As an Associate Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core (CERC), Dr. Miller-Hughes will lead the engagement project  in collaboration with patient and clinician stakeholders and team members from MMC, the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA), Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), the University of Michigan and the University of Utah. The primary objective of the CE Studio Summit is to accelerate the transfer of knowledge surrounding CE Studios and thereby prepare research teams, patients, communities and clinicians to meaningfully engage racial and ethnic minorities in research.

“Racial and ethnic minorities in the US continue to carry the highest chronic disease-related morbidity and mortality burdens yet they remain underrepresented in the research aimed to eliminate these same burdens,” Dr. Miller-Hughes explained. “This award provides an opportunity to reverse this trend by increasing the capacity of those engaged in health disparities research to meaningfully and equitably engage racial and ethnic minorities throughout all research phases. This work is critical for the development, translation, dissemination, and uptake of research findings that have the potential to mitigate racial and ethnic health disparities.”

The project, “Community Engagement Studio Summit: Increasing the Diversity of Stakeholders Engaged in Research," is part of a portfolio of projects that PCORI has funded to help develop a community of patients and other stakeholders equipped to participate as partners in comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) and disseminate PCORI-funded study results.  Through the Engagement Award Program, PCORI is creating an expansive network of individuals, communities and organizations interested in and able to participate in, share, and use patient-centered CER.

“PCORIs support provides a tremendous opportunity for us to collaborate with historically black colleges and universities, and other institutions to apply the Community Engagement Studio model with an emphasis on addressing healthy inequities,” Tiffany L. Israel, MSSW, Program Manager for the CE Studio Summit and Community Navigator for the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at VUMC, commented. “I am excited to work with our colleagues across the nation, not only to provide CE Studio training support, but also to learn more about how the CE Studio model can be adapted and enhanced to best meet the needs of diverse communities.”

“The CE Studio Summit is a natural outgrowth of CERC, a collaboration between MMC and VUMC,” CE Studio Summit Project Leader and MVA Research Professor of Medicine Alecia Fair, DrPH added. “PCORI’s support brings together academic and community stakeholders from a national level to transfer knowledge surrounding CE Studios and prime research teams, patients, communities and clinicians to meaningfully engage racial and ethnic minorities in research.”

“I’m honored to assist CERC in their efforts to meaningfully engage racial and ethnic minorities in all phases of research,” CE Studio Summit Patient Representative and The Family Center Director of Family Programs Yolanda Vaughn, MS, said. “I believe the CE Studio Summit is a novel approach to enhance current research efforts and improve dissemination.”

According to Jean Slutsky, PCORI’s Chief Engagement and Dissemination Officer, “This conference was selected for Engagement Award funding because it will bring together patients and other stakeholders to explore critical issues related to CER and communicate PCORI-funded research findings to key stakeholders. We look forward to working with MMC throughout the course of their project.”

Dr. Miller-Hughes’ 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. For more information about PCORI’s funding to support engagement efforts, visit http://www.pcori.org/content/eugene-washington-pcori-engagement-awards/.

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.