While it may feel that we're never off the clock, when we leave the office or lab we rejoin a different community. We go home to our families, we go out with our friends, we worship with spiritual sisters and brothers, we sit next to neighbors at a movie theater, we visit loved ones in the hospital, we volunteer to help those in need.
Chances are, if you work in research at Meharry, nearly all of the people you will meet during the day provide for your income. Meharry research receives the vast majority of its funding from the National Institutes of Health and other federal grant-making agencies. Taxpayer supported grants. A research grant is not a gift; it is an investment on behalf of the people of the United States expecting a return of better health. From that perspective, all biomedical research is ultimately public health research. It is entrusted to you.
Community Engaged Research recognizes that our investors, the population, have a reasonable expectation of knowing, understanding, and having a say in what we do with their investment. However, the divide between "town & gown", the "ivory tower & real world", the specialist and layperson, keeps that expectation unfulfilled. Community Engaged Research Administration recognizes that someone needs to facilitate a better relationship between researchers and research beneficiaries, especially research participants and partnering organizations. CERA is a new initiative you probably won't see anywhere else just yet.
CERA leverages the expertise of MeRCury and MOSEP on behalf of community organizations that are looking to Meharry for true partnership and mutual benefit in the conduct of research. This means offering support for things not normally considered "research" in the strictest sense. It means offering active, intellectual support for things that community organizations really need: help with program evaluation, reviewing a service grant application, structuring data collection & storage, referrals for care, training opportunities for personnel. It all depends upon the organization.
Like the other teams in the SSU, CERA works to connect needs with resources, and to fill the gap as best we can until a connection is found. Sometimes we will liaise a new partnership. Other times, we'll do our best to offer direct support. In return, we ask that partnering organizations consider becoming long-term collaborators with Meharry for eliminating health disparities in our community.