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Community and scientists team up to improve local health with support from Indiana CTSI



Projects supported by the Indiana CTSI CHEP pilot grant program involve partners from the Indianapolis Urban League, Safe Kids Indiana, the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, La Plaza and HealthNet. They will seek to promote healthy habits, improve awareness on HIV, prevent obesity, curb smoking among expectant mothers, and explore water birth safety. 

“We’re pleased to provide pilot funding to some of the many talented community groups and researchers who are engaged in improving health and health care throughout Indiana,” said Douglas K. Miller, M.D., co-director of the Indiana CTSI CHEP and Richard M. Fairbanks Professor of Aging Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “These organizations and the partnerships they represent are the folks who go out in our communities every day to help people across the state experience better health care and achieve healthier lives.”

Six of the seven community-based research projects selected by Indiana CTSI CHEP will use the funds to implement existing academic-community partnerships that involve members of the community at many different levels. These six projects each received up to a maximum of $20,000 in funding. A seventh project will use the $5,000 in awarded funds to lay the foundation for a larger project, by further developing the partnership and project objectives.

All projects were selected for their strong potential to gain additional support from other agencies after the one-year “cultivation” period provided by the pilot funds. “We see all these projects as the start of long-term collaborations with the Indiana CTSI CHEP program,” Dr. Miller said.

The seven projects funded by the CHEP community-based research pilot program, including both the community and academic partner:

  • Calvin Roberson, vice president of programs at the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, and Mohan Dutta, Ph.D., professor of health communication and director of the Center on Poverty and Health Inequities, Purdue University, will partner on a project titled “Culture-Centered Heart Health Promotion Among African-American Youth in Marion County.”
  • Jamie Smith, state coordinator at Safe Kids Indiana, and Joseph O’Neil, M.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics, IU School of Medicine, will partner on a project titled “A Partnership to Develop the Indiana Latino Child Passenger Safety Strategic Plan.”
  • Deidra Coleman, health and wellness coordinator and program director at the Indianapolis Urban League, and Mary Ott, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, IU School of Medicine, will partner on a project titled “Improving Adolescent HIV Awareness and Behavior: Evaluation and Expansion of the ‘I Need You to Listen, Hear and Understand Me’ Tour.”   
  • Karl Nichols, executive director of the St. Joseph County Minority Health Coalition, and Irene J. Kim Park, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, University of Notre Dame, will partner on a project titled “Discrimination, Coping and Mental Health in Latino Families.”
  • Nancy Morales, health outreach coordinator at La Plaza, and Lisa Staten, Ph.D., associate professor of public health, IU School of Medicine, will partner on a project titled “Compañeros en la Salud” (Partners in Health).
  • Booker Thomas, CEO of HealthNet, and Sarah Wiehe, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, will partner on a project titled “The Avondale Health Study: Community Engagement for Place-Based Patient-Centered Outcomes Research.”
  • Jeanne Ballard, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist with HealthNet, and Michael Weiner, M.D., associate professor of medicine, IU School of Medicine, and investigator in health services research, IU School of Medicine, will partner on a project titled “Water Births: A Cost and Safety Analysis.”

The Indiana CTSI Community Health Engagement Program promotes collaboration among community partners throughout Indiana to improve research, health and health care. It fosters the development and work of community coalitions, individuals and organizations by aligning and developing a statewide coalition of stakeholders interested in improving the health and health care of the residents of Indiana and in evaluating health-related priorities, policies and programs. For more information, visit

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute is a statewide collaboration between Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, and public and private partnerships, that facilitates the translation of scientific discoveries in the lab into new treatments and therapies in Indiana and beyond. It was established in 2008 with a $25 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science of the National Institutes of Health, along with support from the state, the three member universities, and public and private partners. Indiana CTSI is a member of a national network of 60 CTSA-funded organizations across the United States. For more information, visit