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CTSI: Community Engagement and Research (CERR)


Dr. Baquet
Claudia R Baquet M.D., M.P.H.
Academic Title: Professor
Primary Appointment: Medicine
Secondary Appointments: Administration
Additional Title(s): Associate Dean for Policy and Planning; Director, Center for Health Disparities
Location: HSF 1
Phone: (410) 706-1742 
Bradley Boekeloo
Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park
Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Behavioral and Community Health, School of Public Health
2387 SPH Bldg, Valley Drive
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: (301) 405-8546 

A Model Program

The CERR is transformative in that it provides a new infrastructure for existing expertise and community partners to engage each other in translational research in the “real world” setting.


  • Expand our existing strengths in community engagement to support CTSI activities
  • Leverage our innovative translational community-based participatory behavioral and clinical research program for long-term bidirectional relationships of mutual benefit
  • Evaluate and disseminate findings on the effectiveness and efficiency of the CERR in creating sustainable, bidirectional relationships that influence the success of the CYSI

The UM CTSI CERR is the primary mechanism for supporting all bidirectional community engagement and dissemination of research results across the CTSI. The overarching goals of the CERR are to support the CTSI to improve the physical and mental health of populations and reduce disparities along the continuum of health care, from outreach to prevention and screening, diagnosis, and treatment. This will be accomplished by enhancing existing community partnerships of urban and rural underserved populations and forging new ones with the extensive health services resources and research capabilities of UM and Geisinger Health System (GHS). Safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and quality will be among the targets of the CERR efforts.

We adopt the Institute of Medicines (lOM) Multilevel Approach to Epidemiology 17] as the theoretical model guiding the conceptualization of the community academic partnerships in the CERR. The tOM model is an ecological perspective and recognizes that individuals exist within social, political, and economic systems that shape behaviors and access to resources necessary to maintain health 18,9]. The model highlights the importance of patient/client, provider, and health system factors as interrelated and embedded in a larger system of social, economic, and public health policies [8]. Our framework embodies the integration of the community and UM CTSI institutions working as equal partners in advancing the CTSI mission. Specifically, we will leverage our existing skills, tools, and experience to engage, foster, and expahd trusting relationships with diverse communities to enrich our commitment to learn from those communities.

Expanding Our Existing Strengths in Community Engagement to Support CTSI Activities

UM CTSI is well positioned to expand translational research in community settings. The CERR will integrate the mutual and complementary strengths of the UM professional schools (Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Social Work), the School of Public Health at UMCP, and Geisinger Health System to conduct translational research. The benefits of this effort will leverage community outreach in underserved populations, service delivery, programmatic interventions, and educational programs, as well as new knowledge to translate clinical research to practice and policy by:

  1. Providing ioint education and training to community partners and CTSI investigators in the principles and methods of community engaged research and its significant role in translational research~ thereby developing an informed public and a professional workforce that is skilled in the science of community engagement and translation and trusted by community partners. To accomplish this objective we will utilize educational programs developed by the National Bioethics Research Infrastructure Initiative: Building Trust Between Minorities and Researchers
  2. Engaging and extending our significant urban and rural community-based, and clinically-based network~ of community and academic partners, community based providers (both faith-based and professional), local government, and health and human service organizations that reach defined populations of individuals and are interested in partnering with translational scientists at CTSI to meet program objectives.
  3. Utilizing cloud computing for centralized data collection, computation utilities, databases, GIS and geospatial tools, etc., as well as all data secured measures including HIPAA.
  4. Conducting community-based participatory research and evaluation. We are experts in the conduct of qualitative and quantitative studies that are embedded in the community. This expertise includes skills honed in our work in the community sites, including community engagement, multiple qualitative research methods such as focus groups, key informant interviews, ethnography, and beta analysis.
  5. The Amish Research Clinic in Lancaster, PA. Built upon trust and mutual respect for differing cultures, Dr. Shuldiner and his colleagues have recruited more than 6,000 Amish research volunteers, approximately half of the entire Lancaster Amish adult population, into studies of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia, and osteoporosis. The Amish Wellness Program is a community-based program to engage the Old Order Amish research participants into its registry and biobank for research in complex disease genomics while providing health care to a community that would not ordinarily engage in modern medical care.
  6. Maintaining community-engaged registries for rare conditions. Geisinger and its collaborative partners listened when parents indicated a need a central online location for information, networking, and learning after receiving their child’s diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder. With parent input, Geisinger faculty led the development of the online community for families as part of the Simons Variation in Individuals Project (Simons VIP).
  7. Engaging the Community for Prevention and Control of Chronic Conditions. Geisinger has engaged disease-specific community advisory boards in the development of clinical solutions that efficiently identify persons who are at risk for chronic conditions such as the early onset of obesity in infancy, or who have poorly controlled chronic conditions such as cardiometabolic syndrome.
  8. Understanding community change and health effects associated with Marcellus shale drilling. Geisinger is collaborating with a consortium of health care institutions and academic centers throughout the Marcellus Shale Drilling area to comprehensively and longitudinally examine associations between community change, environmental indicators, and health outcomes associated with natural gas extraction.