NASHVILLE, Tenn. Juan Escarfuller, MA, MDiv, who joins the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) as Engagement Liaison for the All of Us (AOU) Research Program, works at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) as a multilingual health coach and program manager.
He chose to join the AoURP because it addressed the massive need for health interventions across various ailments in different communities, while also focusing on customizing approaches to make them more effective within those communities. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all,” he explained. “It balances between widespread public health needs and the concerns of particular communities.”
'I belong to an immigrant community'
Escarfuller was formerly a Director of Hispanic Ministry for the Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Louis and Co-Chair of the National Advisory Council of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. His focus was on faith-based community organizing around social justice issues like racism, hunger and poverty.
“I belong to an immigrant community,” he said when explaining what drew him to this area of medical research. “This community has many dreams. Among those are dreams of wellness – in terms of both mental and physical health – and the work we do addresses those dreams and desires of many immigrants to flourish.”
Escarfuller was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in New Orleans, LA. He studied French at Yale University and earned an MDiv and MA in Theology from the Aquinas Institute out of St. Louis, MO.
'Leveraging pride in our cultural roots'
“I wanted to contribute practical ways of leveraging pride in our cultural roots so that our culture is instrumental in being healthy,” he recalled.
As part of the AoU Engagement Core, Escarfuller works closely with participant partners. He assists in planning and coordination, and he contributes to the evaluative reporting aspects of the projects.
“I hope to improve the health of communities and help them develop their own health research agenda,” he said, “so that they have a larger voice in testing and deciding the initiatives that really improve community health.”
About the All of Us Research Program
The All of Us Research Program is a historic effort to gather data over many years from one million or more people living in the United States, with the ultimate goal of accelerating research and improving health. Unlike research studies that are focused on a specific disease or population, All of Us will serve as a national research resource to inform thousands of studies, covering a wide variety of health conditions. Researchers will use data from the program to learn more about how individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and biological makeup can influence health and disease. Participants may be able to learn more about their own health and contribute to an effort that may advance the health of generations to come.
About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshop.