The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is a National Institutes of Health sponsored effort designed to translate scientific advances into better medical care. The mission of CTSI and Community Engagement Program is to foster strong relationships between academic researchers, clinicians and local partners with the goal of using these advances in science to improve overall community health.
These Citizen/Scientist partnerships create vital relationships and provide the infrastructure needed to address health disparities by engaging with our communities in a bi-directional dialogue about science and health priorities.
A primary focus of the Community Engagement Program is to overcome obstacles to community involvement in translational research, such as difficulty engaging the community in setting research priorities that affect patients; absence of trust of medical research by the community; lack of systematic methods to inform research of community perspectives before, during, and after the research process; and lack of coordinated recruitment for clinical and translational research through an informed community.
The Community Engagement Program is guided by four core principles:
Bringing together basic science, clinical, and population health researchers with community leaders to work together on translational research
Educating communities about the benefits of being informed medical consumers and participating in clinical research, and educating CTSI investigators about community sensitivities and dissemination of information to lay audiences
Providing meaningful vehicles of engagement for scientists, clinicians and their community partners to work together
Producing a shift from the traditional unidirectional approach of bench to bedside with no involvement of community to an engaged partner approach with bidirectional efforts
The Community Engagement Program uses a collaborative leadership model with co-directors representing MCW, UWM-Milwaukee, MSOE, and the City of West Allis. The co-directors lead the implementation of the Community Engagement priorities with regular input from a diverse Citizen Advocacy Council representing diverse community interests and strong collaboration with fellow CTSI Program teams. Administration of the Community Engagement Program is provided through MCW’s Institute for Health and Society.
Analogous to the best quality improvement research, evaluation of the Community Engagement Program includes a mixture of process measures (e.g., conducting favorably evaluated training sessions) to more “clinically significant” outcomes (e.g., number of health science focused op-ed pieces in specific community newspapers and the dollar value of community based research funding from sources outside the member institutions).
The specific goals of the Community Engagement Program are designed to fulfill its mission and overcome barriers to community engagement in research:
The Community Engagement Program uses MCW’s partnership model, which focuses on “working with” our communities in southeast Wisconsin to improve health, rather than “doing for” them. The model builds upon our strengths to create an organizational framework that cultivates a vital, robust community of clinical investigators, including those from our partner institutions, basic scientists, and community members who recognize their contribution to research as a personal responsibility and civic deed.
The framework supports bi-directional communication, shared expertise, and leveraged resources, while encouraging innovative new approaches to overcome barriers and speed the translation of scientific discoveries into treatments and cures for better human health.
The Community Engagement Program approach supports interrelated, collaborative relationships between each of the Programs of the Institute’s structure and provides new opportunities for faculty, students and staff to expand work with communities to translate research into practice by:
Working together, scientists, clinicians and community advocates can improve the health of our community and bring research discoveries to the patient bedside and community.
Become an advocate and help:
The Citizens Advisory Council as a part of the Community Engagement Program and supports interrelated, collaborative relationships between the key functions of the CTSI structure and provides new opportunities for faculty and students to expand work with communities.
The purpose of the Science Café program is to strengthen science literacy by engaging the community and translational scientists in an informal setting through bi-directional dialogue of current scientific and medical issues and their translational impact on our culture and society.