This article shows the importance of groundbreaking research at the University of Kentucky, one of the main initiatives of the university's $2.1 billion comprehensive campaign, Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign.
By Olivia Ramirez
The goal of many faculty, staff, clinicians and researchers at the University for Kentucky, is understanding and addressing the health needs of the people of the Commonwealth. As a step toward improving health equity, the University of Kentucky Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET) was established and recently approved by the UK Board of Trustees.
Kentucky has the highest national rates of cancer incidence and mortality as well as high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, substance abuse and other diseases. These burdensome health conditions disproportionately impact rural, racial/ethnic minorities, sexual minorities and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Health equity research examines health and healthcare for underserved populations and looks at the causes of inequity, develops and evaluates interventions and disseminates findings into community and healthcare settings to improve health outcomes.
"[Kentucky] is one of several states where we see declines in life expectancy so there is a lot of work to be done," said Nancy Schoenberg, director of CHET and the Marion Pearsall Professor of Behavioral Science in the UK College of Medicine. "We believe that research can help inform the best practices that can support improvements in health."
The mission of CHET is to build and enhance innovative, transdisciplinary and impactful research and training aimed at improving the health of vulnerable Kentucky residents. CHET also aims to grow health equity research at UK by training and providing professional development guidance to those interested in studying and addressing health disparities. Through research and training, CHET will increase the number of researchers at UK conducting health-equity focused research. Within the next five years, CHET will recruit new faculty members and postdoctoral scholars from across the nation, enhancing the strength of health equity research.
Not only will the Center continue to enable cross-campus collaboration among researchers, it will create more opportunities to be engaged in communities across the Commonwealth. "We also have community partnerships with government agencies and community based organizations collaborating on implementation science studies to translate findings that are evidence based into their practices," said Carrie Oser, associate director of CHET and interim associate dean for research in the UK College of Arts and Sciences