Two Teams of Multi-State Investigators Chosen as Collaborative Health Disparities Research Award Winners

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Researchers from Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi at the inaugural Delta Clinical and Translational Health Disparities Conference July 19, 2018. (Photo by Connor Bran/UTHSC)

The Delta Clinical and Translational Science Consortium has chosen two research teams as the 2018 Collaborative Research Network (CORNET) Awards in Health Disparities Research winners. The CORNET Awards in Health Disparities Research were created by leaders within the consortium to stimulate innovative, interdisciplinary, team-based health disparities research that involves investigators from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Tulane University, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). The purpose of the awards is to give seed funding, up to $75,000 per project, to collaborative research teams working to combat regional health inequities faced by those living in the Delta South.

“Through the work that the Delta Consortium is doing, we know there is an increased interest among our researchers to find solutions to complex health issues faced by people in our region,” said Steven R. Goodman, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UTHSC. “The high response to the CORNET Awards opportunity and the potential impact the two winning projects will have for our community members is overwhelming. I congratulate all the selected collaborative team members.”

The 2018 CORNET Awards in Health Disparities Research winners and their project titles are:

  • “Transgenerational research on child health in the Delta” by Claire Simpson, PhD (UTHSC); Bettina Beech, DrPH, MPH (UMMC); and Emily Harville, PhD (Tulane), which aims to develop a large, multigenerational study of African-American and white Delta residents, allowing them to better understand how health disparities develop and are transmitted across generations.
  • “Geographic, income, and racial disparities in continuity of care and their effect on health care utilization for obesity-associated chronic conditions” by James E. Bailey, MD, MPH (UTHSC); Joshua R. Mann, MD, MPH (UMMC); and Lizheng Shi, PhD, MsPharm (Tulane) aims to inform ongoing health system improvement across the South and could lead to major funding for pragmatic research to help communities most affected by disparities invest in health system transformation to reduce disparities, and improve health.

Envisioned by Dr. Goodman; Richard L. Summers, MD, associate vice chancellor for Research at UMMC; and Laura S. Levy, PhD, vice president for Research at Tulane, the CORNET Awards in Health Disparities funding opportunity was first announced to investigators on July 19, 2018 at the inaugural Delta Clinical and Translational Health Disparities Conference in Jackson, Mississippi. With more than 200 health disparities researchers from each participating institution in attendance, the conference successfully provided researchers a platform to share their research interests and catalyze new collaborative partnerships that would result in the submission of a CORNET Award proposal in health disparities.

“UMMC is proud to support the recipients of the CORNET in Health Disparities Research Awards,” Dr. Summers said. “There is tremendous power in collaboration and we look forward to seeing the difference these projects will make in the lives of our children and how they will impact the quality and management of health care for our most marginalized populations.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Southern United States has the largest minority population with heightened levels of poverty and health disparities. The Delta Clinical and Translational Science Consortium was formed to address the most-pressing health needs of these underserved populations in the Mississippi Delta region through high-quality, interdisciplinary team-based clinical and translational research. The Tennessee Clinical and Translational Science Institute (TN-CTSI) at UTHSC, the University of Mississippi Medical Center Clinical Research Institute, and the Tulane University Translational Science Institute make up the consortium. Long-term, the Delta Consortium’s goal is to obtain a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), which will identify the consortium as a hub linked to a national network of medical research institutes recognized by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

“The CORNET Awards create a powerful synergy by pulling together complementary strengths among our Delta Consortium partners,” Dr. Levy said. “The awards demonstrate our commitment to address significant problems of health disparity through a team approach.”

The CORNET Awards program was launched three years ago by Dr. Goodman and has been the catalyst of multiple collaborative partnerships between researchers at UTHSC internally and across Tennessee, with various academic institutions regionally and globally, and with industry partners. To date, the CORNET Awards have provided more than $1.4 million in funding to new teams of researchers, giving rise to over $8.8 million in extramural funding.

To learn more about the CORNET Awards, please visit https://www.uthsc.edu/research/development/intramural-funding/cornet-awards.php.