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Engagement Profile: October

For our introductory faculty spotlight, we meet Andrea Leinberger-Jabari: the coordinator of the Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI). Leinberger-Jabari gives us a summary of her office's work and an overview of some engagement work they do in the surrounding communities.

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Describe the work of your office.

The Office of Community Engagement for Health is housed within the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the UMN Twin Cities campus. The goal of the OCEH is to create and maintain an infrastructure to support community engagement in health related research. We believe that if communities are engaged throughout the research process (inception through implementation and dissemination), then the results of that research will be more meaningful and usable by communities. We work with both community-based organizations and faculty to create more avenues for such engagement to occur.

What is a current engagement project your unit is working?

A current project I am working on that I am most excited about is a new project we are calling the "Community Research Institute." The goal of the CRI is to bring community organizational representatives to campus for a 6-week workshop series designed to provide them with opportunities to enhance their research skills, network with other organizations and faculty interested in community-based research, and direct one-on-one technical assistance from faculty willing to coach them on a research project. The Office of Community Engagement for Health is joining forces with the Center for Health Equity and the Program in Health Disparities Research to offer this workshop series to community organizations. This is the first year we are embarking on this and we have selected 11 organizations to participate. The community response to this opportunity has been overwhelming and we already have a "wait list" for the next cycle!

What neighborhoods/communities/counties/etc. is this project partnering with?

There is an extremely diverse group of organizations participating in the Community Research Institute. We are working with community-based non-profits from Minneapolis and St. Paul, new immigrant organizations, rural county public health and small private clinics. We are really excited to see what networking occurs amongst these groups.

What impact is this project having/expect to have?

We hope that the organizations that participate in this workshop series will gain additional skills in conducting health related research and will actually begin to formulate a research project they have defined so that they can then apply for research grants. The OCEH annually issues a call for proposals for community-engaged research and pairs community organizations with academic partners and so I can see the potential for these organizations to be in a place where they may be interested in applying for these or similar funds.

Thanks for a great first spotlight on engaging faculty, Andrea!