News Center for Community Health Partnership & Research

Through two funding programs, center supports multiple community-academic projects

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

The Center for Community Health Partnership and Research announces funding for several community-academic partnerships through its Pitch Partners² and Community Partnership Support Funding programs. Both funding programs support collaborative research and interventions that advance health equity and benefit community health.

At Pitch Partners events, attendees present public health-related project ideas in order to identify potential partners and receive critical feedback. In addition to facilitating better communication between academia and the community regarding best practices, those in attendance learn about current Washington University community initiatives and research. Selected presenters then apply for a rapid seed funding opportunity that nurtures and develops community-academic partnerships.

The following projects recently received Pitch Partners2 awards:

Project: ASPEN Network Inc. data infrastructure development

Community Partner & Primary Investigators: ASPEN Network Inc. – Jefferson County Health Center; and, Ben Cooper, MPH, manager of the Public Health Data & Training Center; and Hilary Reno, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Hospitalist Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; and co-director of the Public Health Data & Training Center

Project Summary:  Current ASPEN initiatives focus on mental health partnerships and connecting individuals to the right resource at the right time. A vital gap is the need for more efficient data collection and dissemination to not only identify community public health needs but to also help show impact. ASPEN currently faces challenges including poor interoperability and difficulty developing algorithms that can accurately utilize ASPEN data to identify trends or determine impact. This partnership would enable ASPEN to develop clear baseline data and strategies for short and long-term program effectiveness.

Project: Development and implementation of education promoting cannabis and firearm safety

Community Partner & Primary Investigator: Parents as Teachers; and, Tara Copper, MD, and Lindsay Clukies, MD, both associate professors of pediatrics in the Division of Emergency Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis  

Project Summary: Among all types of injuries, firearm-related injuries have recently become the leading cause of death in young people in our country. Safe storage of firearms is associated with less unintentional and self-inflicted firearm injuries and deaths. Additionally, there has been an increase in unintentional ingestions of cannabis or THC products by children causing breathing problems and depression of the central nervous system. As unintentional poisonings and firearm injuries have become more common, the need for focused education on these topics has become more important. While general information about ways to limit these injuries has been part of previous Parents as Teachers education, this project will expand upon existing materials and add new, current information that is relevant to the present status of unintentional injuries in the United States.

Project: Improve program evaluation to demonstrate the impact of vision services

Community Partner & Primary Investigator: Eye Thrive; and Jason Newland, MD, professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Schnuck Family Endowed Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at St. Louis Children’s Hospital

Project Summary: Through this project, Eye Thrive seeks to research and document the larger impact that vision services, including the correction of vision impairments, is having on the educational outcomes of K-12 students in St. Louis. Through this multi-phase project, Eye Thrive will 1) Improve programmatic evaluation strategies and implement new evaluation tools, 2) Develop a research study proposal in partnership, and 3) Conduct a full research study on academic performance in students before and after receiving prescription glasses from Eye Thrive.

Resulting from their participation at a Pitch Partners event, the following project team recently received a Community Partnership Support Funding award:

Project: Evaluating a Pediatric Occupational Therapy Pilot Program’s Impact: Saint Louis Crisis Nursery

Community Partner & Primary Investigator: Saint Louis Crisis Nursery; and Salma Bachelani, instructor in Occupational Therapy and Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Project Summary: Individualized pediatric occupational therapy services are a recognized, evidence-based approach to addressing developmental delays and increasing independence in young children. However, families experiencing challenges like transiency, high poverty and limited regular engagement with health care professionals are rarely aware of or able to access these services. This project will evaluate a pilot occupational therapy program targeting underserved St. Louis area children under age six, who are in short-term care at the Crisis Nursery.