News Chronic Disease

Faculty come together to develop solutions to fight diabetes at “Next Steps” Event

This spring the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis partnered with the Center for Diabetes Translation Research (CDTR) on “Next Steps in Public Health: Eliminating Population-Based Disparities in Diabetes and Obesity.” Led by CDTR director and institute scholar Debra Haire-Joshu, PhD, MSEd, Joyce Wood Professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, 50 researchers from a variety of disciplines from across Washington University, as well as CDTR members from external institutions, came together for a day of brainstorming and discussion to develop papers that inform real world approaches to prevent racial, ethnic and socio-economic disparities associated with Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Papers from the Next Steps session will be peer-reviewed and published as a series in Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy in 2014-15, and then compiled as a collection. At least 12 papers are currently underway.

These papers will address select research questions identified as having key importance by the 2011 Strategic Plan of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) at the National Institute of Health (NIH). Papers will focus on implementing and testing solutions at the population level (aka T4 research) among populations at risk for diabetes and obesity. Additionally, they will inform science on at least one of four dimensions of disparities including: sociocultural, socio-economic, living and working conditions, and the life course (pregnancy to aging). Papers can be original research, special topic, review or case studies, and will address implications for practice, policy and future research directions.

Response to the collaboration was overwhelmingly positive. One evaluation respondent noted “I truly enjoyed the event, and appreciate the opportunity to meet and now work with new colleagues on manuscripts that I would not otherwise have developed.

The Next Steps session also helped inspire additional opportunities. Susan B. Racette, PhD, associate professor in the Program in Physical Therapy and Department of Medicine in the School of Medicine, commented, “This was an exciting, engaging and inspiring event. It prompted me to think creatively about ways to strengthen collaborations with colleagues at other institutions. As a result, I submitted a small internal grant proposal to the Program in Physical Therapy Research Division for a multi-institutional project, with the funds allocated primarily for bringing my colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine and Auburn University to St. Louis for a 1.5-day brainstorming meeting to plan manuscript and grant submissions. I received notice of award last week. This will advance our school-based work and expand the scope to other cities, states and ethnic groups.”

This effort marks the first in a series of “Next Steps” events that the institute will organize around critical public health issues. While subsequent events will focus on other topics and bring together different faculty, all of the events will focus on inspiring innovative ideas and encouraging new collaborations, and will always produce some kind of product (report, paper or other outcome) that aims to make an impact.

If you are a Washington University faculty member and have an idea for a “Next Steps” event to collaborate across campus on a public health topic, please contact Associate Director Victoria Anwuri ( with your idea. All Next Steps should will produce a product that benefits the field, such as a white paper, set of recommendations, priorities statement, grant submission proposal, etc.

Washington University Participants

  • Wendy Auslander, PhD, Brown School
  • Derek Brown, PhD, Brown School
  • Ross C. Brownson, PhD, Brown School
  • Kathleen Bucholz, PhD, School of Medicine
  • Elizabeth Budd, MPH, Brown School
  • Charlene Caburnay, PhD, Brown School
  • Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, School of Medicine
  • Alexis Duncan, PhD, Brown School,
  • Amy Eyler, PhD, Brown School
  • Debra Haire-Joshu, PhD, MSEd, Center for Diabetes Translation Research, Brown School and School of Medicine
  • Jenine Harris, PhD, Brown School
  • Cynthia Herrick, MD, School of Medicine
  • J. Aaron Hipp, PhD, Brown School
  • Darrell Hudson, PhD, Brown School
  • Matthew Kreuter, PhD, Brown School
  • Rebecca Lobb, ScD, School of Medicine
  • Timothy McBride, PhD, Brown School
  • Amy McQueen, PhD, School of Medicine
  • Molly W. Metzger, PhD, Brown School
  • Sarah Moreland Russell, PhD, Brown School
  • Nancy Morrow-Howell, PhD, Brown School
  • Ginger E. Nicol, MD, School of Medicine
  • Lisa Pollack, PhD Candidate, Brown School
  • Enola K. Proctor, PhD, Brown School
  • Jason Q. Purnell, PhD, Brown School
  • Susan B. Racette, PhD, School of Medicine
  • Dominic N. Reeds, MD, School of Medicine
  • Vetta Sanders Thompson, PhD, Brown School
  • Jennifer Sprague, MD, PhD, School of Medicine
  • Richard I. Stein, PhD, School of Medicine
  • Susan Stepleton, PhD, Brown School
  • Jaime Strickland, MA, School of Medicine
  • Rachel Tabak, PhD, Brown School
  • Neil H. White, MD, CDE, School of Medicine

External Participants

  • Eddie Brown, PhD, Arizona State University
  • Michelle Johnson-Jennings, PhD, University of Minnesota
  • Tennille Marley, PhD, Arizona State University
  • Ka’imi Sinclair, PhD, University of Washington
  • Malia Villegas, PhD, National Congress of American Indians