WSU, Karmanos to conduct ‘Community-Engaged Research’ symposium Feb. 5

January 05, 2018

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and cancer is the second, with higher rates of diagnosis and death in metropolitan Detroit compared to the state of the Michigan and the nation. Diagnoses and deaths from these diseases are higher among African-Americans compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

The approach to addressing these problems has typically been “top-down,” with decisions about specific research questions, methods and assessments often made without substantial input from the communities that are the focus of such research.

Wayne State University and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute are exploring how to reverse that pyramid dynamic so that affected communities have a say in the direction of medical research.

WSU and KCI, on Feb. 5, will present “2018 Community-Engaged Research (CEnR) Symposium: Building CEnR Networks to Eliminate Disparities in Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease.” Open to the public, the symposium will take place at KCI’s Wertz Auditorium, 4100 John R, Detroit, from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Academic research has played a critical role in reducing disease burden in diverse populations. However, cardiovascular disease and cancer remain intractable public health problems – an occurrence that may be attributable to inadequate consideration of biosocial factors. Syndemics provides a conceptual model of how diseases and biosocial influences interact to synergistically enhance risk for a given population. African-Americans have historically struggled with structural and interpersonal racism, and disproportionately live in stressful and adverse conditions linked to racial group membership, including poverty, violence, stigmatization and discrimination.

Community-engaged research, or CEnR, is a process in which academic researchers work collaboratively with and through community members to identify and address issues affecting well-being in communities. CEnR has been endorsed and recommended by many, but applied by relatively few. This one-day symposium will provide opportunities to learn about and discuss the benefits gained from CEnR, as well as its challenges and strategies for conducting successfully. This meeting will also provide an opportunity to learn from and network with community members who have identified research priorities for their communities. Topics that will be addressed include:

• How does community engagement contribute to stronger science?

• What are successful models of community-engaged scholarship that academic researchers can follow?

• How can academic institutions support community-engaged scholarship among faculty?

• How does industry view the role of community members in clinical trials?

• What are the cardiovascular disease- and cancer-related research priorities within Detroit communities?

• What kinds of local opportunities are there for community-engaged research related to cancer and cardiovascular disease?

Speakers tentatively scheduled include Al Richmond, executive director of Community Campus Partnerships for Health; Kristi Graves, Ph.D., associate professor of Oncology Population Sciences, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer, Georgetown University; Sean Collins, M.D., professor and vice chairman for Research and director of Clinical Trials Center for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; and Yasmeen Long, program officer for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Eugene Washington Engagement Awards Program.

This inaugural meeting is supported, in part, by Wayne State University’s Office of the Assistant Vice President of Translational Science and Clinical Research Innovation, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Population Studies and Disparities Research Program, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Register by Jan. 31 at
For more information, contact Lezina Topciu at 313-576-8259 or