Researcher Engagement

Our community engagement team works to raise awareness in the community about the importance of clinical and translational research, and encourage partnerships in research at BMC, local CTSA hubs, or the CTSA network. The BU CTSI provides pilot grants and large seminars on best practices for researchers interested in conducting patient-centered or community based research and reporting their research back to the community. The community engagement team has representation on the Boston HealthNet Research Subcommittee where proposed community-based participatory research at community health centers are reviewed. The committee will also provide one on one consultation for researchers, as needed.

Pilot grants are intended to stimulate new projects, leading to R01 or equivalent grants and/or to commercialization of an innovative technology. These grants may NOT be used as bridge funding or to extend an existing project. Community-engaged research pilot projects must be designed to stimulate community-academic partnerships with the goal of catalyzing innovative translational research that is responsive to community health needs. To qualify for funding, a project must include a community-academic partnership and have a community stakeholder collaborator as an equal partner. The content of research should be responsive to some identified community health need, such as defined by the BMC Community Health Needs Assessment. Methods should employ community-engaged research methods including but not limited to a dissemination plan that ensures findings are shared with the target community.

Boston HealthNet is an integrated care delivery network that includes 14 community health centers (13 are federally qualified health centers), BMC and BUSM. The Boston HealthNet Research Subcommittee meets monthly to review research proposals that involve Boston HealthNet community health centers and facilitate community input across the translational spectrum. Serving as a consultant to the investigator and health center, the subcommittee ensures awareness of CTSI research resources and provides feedback to ensure research is equally supportive of community goals. Nearly 200 research projects have been approved through this process.

The Partners in Health and Housing Research Working Group is a collaboration of the Boston Housing Authority, Boston Public Health Commission, public housing residents, and researchers from Boston University Dental School and Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Social Work. The overall goal of the working group is to provide an intellectual and resource repository for investigators who are currently conducting, planning, or interested in research among residents of Boston public housing. Aims of the working group include:

  • Provide collaborative opportunities for transdisciplinary research across the campus.
  • Create a multi-level data repository on factors impacting the health of residents that will promote research innovation.
  • Assist in developing institutional procedures, policies, and practices with respect to research practices within this community; and
  • Establish best practices with respect to research conduct, including but not limited to subject recruitment, subject retention and subject engagement in research conduct (e.g., subjects acting as agents of the research).

Boston Breast Cancer Equity Coalition is a diverse group of multidisciplinary stakeholders whose members include oncology and primary-care clinicians, patient navigators, public health policy-makers, advocates, researchers and patients from the American Cancer Society, the state Department of Public Health, and the multiple institutions in Boston where breast cancer patients receive their care.

The vision of the coalition is to eliminate the differences in breast cancer care and outcomes by promoting equity and excellence in care among all women of different racial/ethnic groups in the City of Boston. The coalition strives to reach this vision by identifying, developing and implementing solutions with the specific initial goal of eliminating the inequities in breast outcomes and care that exist among Black, non-Hispanic women in Boston.

Consultations are provided to researchers who are interested in developing a community partnership or are interested in reporting back their research findings to the community. Science Cafes are hosted in communal environments where participants have the opportunity to learn about and discuss research findings with experts. CTSI researchers are invited to talk in laymen’s terms about their work in an informal and friendly atmosphere which aims to demystify scientific research for the general public and empower non-scientists to more comfortably and accurately assess translation research.