Corbie-Smith selected to lead new Center for Health Equity Research

The Center for Health Equity Research, with the support of the Strategic Plan of the UNC School of Medicine, launches this fall under the leadership of Giselle Corbie-Smith, MD, MSc. The Center will bring together research from across schools inside and outside of the university, making it a home for scholars, trainees, and community members from diverse disciplines and areas of expertise.

Corbie-Smith selected to lead new Center for Health Equity Research click to enlarge Giselle Corbie-Smith, MD, MSc

“This is a significant investment from the School of Medicine,” said Corbie-Smith, Professor of Social Medicine and Medicine at the School of Medicine and Director of the Program on Health Disparities at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC.  “The research that will come out of the Center will improve health in underserved and marginalized communities. It’s an exciting opportunity to be part of it, and I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Individuals working with the Center will form collaborative, multidisciplinary teams committed to health equity, innovation, and translational research.

“We’re looking to really harness the strength of multiple disciplines to address health and equality through research,” said Corbie-Smith.

With the launching of the Center, Dr. William Roper, Dean of the School of Medicine, believes UNC is well positioned to make significant contributions to health equity research because of its longstanding commitment to investigating ways to identify and eliminate health disparities.

“This new center will make UNC a leader in the important area of health equity research,” said Dr. Roper. “We are determined to be at the forefront in this work.  I am personally delighted that Dr. Corbie-Smith has taken on this challenge here."

“One of our most important missions as a School of Medicine is to improve the health of all North Carolinians,” said Marschall S. Runge, MD, PhD, Executive Dean of the UNC School of Medicine, Chair of the Department of Medicine, and Director of UNC’s NC Translational and Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute. “This center is dedicated to doing exactly that – to bring together scholars to identify the most effective ways to serve our at-risk populations throughout the state and nation. And, we are very fortunate to have Dr. Corbie-Smith as an internationally renowned leader for this effort.”

Corbie-Smith, whose scholarly work focuses on the practical and ethical issues regarding involvement of minorities in research, has also received national recognition, and earned a reputation for leadership and multidisciplinary research. Corbie-Smith can also draw on her extensive networks throughout the state of North Carolina to leverage expertise in many areas of health care that will allow for successful reductions in disparities among the state’s population.

“Dr. Corbie-Smith is one of the foremost scholars working in the area of health disparities in the United States,” said Dr. Gail Henderson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Social Medicine.  “She has a long track record of successful research and publication, and equally, of mentoring trainees at all levels in this important field. Her research and teaching are informed by her clinical work and the impact of structural inequalities on the health of her patients. This Center is a natural extension of her work.”

The shared commitment of scholars, trainees, and community members will serve as a bridge among their disciplines and levels of experience. Center members will generate knowledge and contribute to the science of health equity research, driving innovation in collaboration with underserved communities to improve health. The Center will host a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program to provide early stage investigators with the support and opportunities necessary to allow them to develop and strengthen their research. In conjunction with the NC TraCS Institute, home of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, the Center will offer 3-5 grants of up to $100,000 to faculty members whose projects meet the missions of both the NC TraCS Institute and the new Center.

Corbie-Smith anticipates new and innovative research from the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, the School of Social Work, the School of Pharmacy, and even the College of Arts and Sciences.

“We expect to engage researchers from across the university to work in the Center,” said Corbie-Smith. “The beautiful thing about Carolina is that the walls are so low that people are used to collaborating across disciplinary lines. My expectation is for that collaborative spirit to be reflected in the Center. I think that’s the foundation and one of the strengths of UNC and we plan on capitalizing on that.”

Corbie-Smith expects the research coming out of the Center to produce changes in health equality, whether through advances in public policy or improvements in delivery and quality of care in underserved communities.

“There’s always an expectation of the research leading to improved health,” said Corbie-Smith. “Being able to translate research either into policy or practice are ultimate goals. We don’t want the research to be research on its own—we want it to improve the health of our communities.”

To learn more about the Center, visit http://cher.unc.edu.