Four Tufts Faculty Join the TCRC Steering Committee – October 2014

TCRC enthusiastically welcomed four new members to our Steering Committee this semester: Sara Folta (Friedman School), Nicole Holland (Dental School), Alex Blanchette (Anthropology), and Cora Roelofs (Community Health).

2014 RFP Released! – October 2014

TCRC is seeking strong proposals for community-collaborative research projects. Up to 2 projects will be funded up to total of $22,500, with the maximum award being $15,000/proposal. Applications are due at 5 PM on November 14th. Please click here for more information on funding requirements and how to apply!

New Course in Community-Based Research to be Taught at Tufts This Fall – May 2014

The course is titled “Community-Based Research in Urban Borderzones” and will be co-taught by Deborah Pacini Hernandez and Cathy Stanton. Click here for the course description.

TCRC featured in the Tufts Daily – January 2014

The Tufts Daily recently published two articles regarding TCRC funding community research efforts, click the links below to view them:

Tufts Community Research Center provides funding to local groups

TCRC Funding benefits Tufts, community

Update on New TCRC Funded Projects – January 2014

Alewife Brook, Photo Courtesy of MyRWA

Last month the Tufts Community Research Center (TCRC) selected two university and community partnerships to be the recipients of seed grant funding for implementing their proposals. This year the TCRC committee reviewed the highest number of applications to date.

The first proposal to receive funding, titled “Mitigating the stress effects of racism on health through healing, education, and empowerment”, is a partnership between Tufts and the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center. Building on past collaborative work between Tufts and the health center, this pilot plans to recruit adolescent People of Color for an 8-10 week intervention. Participants will be taught critical race theory and cognitive behavioral techniques for self-care before using their knowledge to develop messages for their peers and the broader community. The proposal’s plan to address a population within the community facing disparities, with clear goals for future research, was impressive to the committee.

The second accepted proposal is a cooperative effort between Tufts and the Mystic River Watershed Association to address pollution in Alewife Brook. Also based on a history of collaboration, this proposal seeks to accurately assess pollution levels and sources of phosphorus loads in the Alewife Brook. The results of this project will inform future research and action. TCRC looks forward to the united effort of Tufts and the community around a broader environmental issue.

Immigrant Health and Youth submitted to the National Institute of Mental Health
In fall 2007, TCRC awarded seed funding to Jayanthi Mistry and a coalition of community partners to develop a proposal around education and mental health in Somerville youth.The team submitted their proposal to the National Institute of Mental Health at NIH in June 2008 under the title, Immigrant Youth: Health and Resilience.The community partners are The Welcome Project (Warren Goldstein-Gelb from the steering committee), Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (Carol Wan from the steering committee), Immigrant Service Providers Group/Health (Alex Pirie from the steering committee), and the Somerville Public Schools.Tufts professors Jean Wu and Susan Ostrander (both from the steering committee) are also co-investigators.The proposal is for a 2-year developmental grant.

NIH to fund Assessing and Prevention of Obesity among New Immigrants
The National Institute of Child Health and Development (at NIH) is in the process of funding the Assessing and Prevention Obesity among New Immigrants proposal to which TCRC provided seed funding in 2006. This is also a community-based participatory research study that is a collaboration of Tufts (Chris Economos of the steering committee), the Brazilian Woman’s Group, Community Action Agency of Somerville (Alex Pirie of the steering committee), Haitian Coalition, and the Welcome Project (Warren Goldstein-Gelb of the steering committee).This five year $2.5 million grant will be used to study immigrants and obesity in Somerville.

NIH funds Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (at NIH) has funded the Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health (CAFEH) proposal for which TCRC provided seed funding in 2005. This community-based participatory research study is a collaboration of Tufts (TCRC steering committee members Doug Brugge and John Durant) and five community organizations: Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (Ellin Reisner from the steering committee); Chinese Progressive Association (Lydia Lowe from the steering committee); Latin American Health Institute (Bart Laws from the steering committee); Chinatown Resident Association and Committee for Boston Public Housing.The five year, $2.5 million project will study near highway pollution and its health effects in Somerville, Chinatown and possibly South Boston.

Tufts/T-NEMC CTSA Proposal

TCRC steering committee members Laurel Leslie, Elmer Freeman and Doug Brugge helped develop and will be part of the leadership core for the community engagement aspect of the new Clinical and Translational Science Initiative grant to Tufts from NIH.This $25 million, five year award will, among other things, provide important opportunities for community involvement in clinical research at Tufts and Tufts Medical Center.

Speed Dating
We hosted the first ever “speed dating” event at Tufts. The half day program was designed to introduce Tufts researchers and local community members to each other.The event was attended by about 2 dozen community representatives and a similar number of Tufts faculty, students and administrators.There was positive to enthusiastic feedback on the event, although if one problem was evident it might have been that finding the perfect collaboration in one morning was a bit optimistic.

2007 TCRC Grant Award

In fall 2007, TCRC awarded seed funding to Jayanthi Mistry and a coalition of community partners to develop a proposal around education and mental health in Somerville youth.  The team worked on a proposal to the National Institute of Mental Health at NIH under the title, Immigrant Youth: Health and Resilience.

The proposed research project is designed as the first step for a long range project that will examine psychological and behavioral health issues among children and adolescents from immigrant backgrounds, document challenges and barriers faced, and assess family and community based strengths and assets that can facilitate psychological health and resilience. This first step is designed as a community based participatory research project to conduct comparative analysis of the nature and scope of psychological and behavioral health issues among children from neighborhoods in two cities that serve as urban gateway communities for recent immigrants. Consistent with the goals of the Program Announcement, the primary objectives of this R21 proposal are (a) to conduct a set of two studies that will generate preliminary data, hypotheses, and assessment procedures as the foundation for a subsequent R01 proposal, and (b) to build capacity among the members of a community-academic partnership that has been established over the past nine months. The partnership has been formed between community-based organizations, schools in Somerville, and Tufts University.

The community partners are The Welcome Project (Warren Goldstein-Gelb from the steering committee), Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (Carol Wan from the steering committee), Immigrant Service Providers Group/Health (Alex Pirie from the steering committee), and the Somerville Public Schools.  Tufts professors Jean Wu and Susan Ostrander (both from the steering committee) are also co-investigators.  The proposal is for a 2-year developmental grant.

TCRC at the tenth annual conference of CCPH, 2007
A notable recent public presentation was the session that Lydia Lowe of the Chinese Progressive Association, our graduate assistant Bindu Panikkar, and our director, Doug Brugge conducted at the tenth annual conference of the Community Campus Partnerships for Health in Toronto in April, 2007. Our session was on “community research and community organizing” and was attended by about 60 actively engaged conference goers. The conference was a substantial success with 650 attendees, mostly from the US and Canada, but also from many other countries.

Symposium 2006
Our community research symposium in spring 2006 was widely judged a success. However, based on discussion with our advisory board we decided not to try to simply replicate the program again in 2007 and instead we are planning on holding a working session in the fall of 2007 that will be designed to help initiate new collaborations between faculty and community partners.

2006 TCRC Grant Award

In fall 2006, TCRC awarded seed funding to Chris Economos and a coalition of community partners to develop a proposal around Assessing and Preventing Obesity in New Immigrants. TCRC funding supported the key informant interviews and formative research that informed the successful grant proposal to the NIH.

The Project “Assessing and Preventing Obesity in New Immigrants” will test whether an appropriately timed intervention- developed with active input by the immigrant community in Somerville, Massachusetts will be effective in preventing weight gain in both the mother and child.  The intervention will focus on lifestyle coaching and will target immigrants from Braziil, Haiti, and Latin America that have arrived in the United States within the last five years. The proposed study is a , two-year randomized controlled research trial and was submitted to the National Institutes of Health.

This is also a community-based participatory research study that is a collaboration of Tufts (Chris Economos of the steering committee) and the Brazilian Woman’s Group, Community Action Agency of Somerville (Alex Pirie of the steering committee), Haitian Coalition, and the Welcome Project (Warren Goldstein-Gelb of the steering committee).  This five year $2.5 million study immigrants and obesity in Somerville.

2005 TCRC Grant Award

In fall 2005, Doug Brugge and his community project partners worked on a proposal to the NIH on relationship between air pollution gradients and health effects in individuals living next to major highways.

We propose a community-based participatory research (CBPR) study of the relationship between air pollution gradients and health effects in individuals living next to major highways. There is evidence that (1) people living close to highways experience significantly elevated exposures to constituents of motor vehicle exhaust including ultrafine particles (UFP; 0.01-1 microns) and black carbon; and (2) that motor vehicle pollution is associated with cardiac mortality and morbidity in adults, and asthma and reduced lung function in children.  C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker of risk for cardiac illness, has been shown to increase in response to changes in particulate exposure, making it a viable indicator of the potential impact on cardiac health.  Our core study involves measuring 5 traffic-related pollutants (i.e., UFP, PM2.5, NOx, CO, black carbon, particulate PAH) in 4 neighborhoods within 400 meters of highways in the Boston area. A background site >1000 m from highways will also be monitored.  We will compete a scientific survey of residents living in the neighborhoods to determine pediatric asthma prevalence.  We will determine the time residents spent within the near highway zone currently and rigorously measure highway pollution gradients in the neighborhoods.  We will document exposures at work, school and while commuting.  For a subset of non-smoking households we will obtain pulmonary function tests from children and analyze multiple blood samples per person from adults for CRP and fibrinogen.  Our study will be (1) the first to test associations between highway pollution gradients and biological markers of health, (2) the first CBPR study of highway pollution, and (3) the most comprehensive collection of data on time spent in the exposure zone and many confounders and effect modifiers.  We will conduct bivariate and regression analyses and have developed preliminary mathematical models that frame our approach to analyzing the large set of data.  Our team consists of faculty at Tufts University and 6 co-investigators from community organizations that are concerned about the impact of highways on the health of residents in their communities.  We will train and hire field staff from the communities and have an advisory board.  We will link community participation to the science through participation in our steering committee and through our advisory board.  Our study is designed to report useful information locally as well as influence pressing national policy needs.