The National Institutes of Health has recently launched a new initiative dedicated to research in health equity, with Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health playing a major role. The Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society program seeks to address widespread disparities in health and medicine across the United States, particularly with regard to minority groups and otherwise disadvantaged communities.
On Sept. 22, the Dornsife school was named the ComPASS Coordinating Center as part of a $20 million grant. Dornsife will be leading and supporting 25 different community-led projects across the country focusing on various populations and inequities in public health. Amy Carroll-Scott, associate professor and Chair of the Department of Community Health and Prevention at the Dornsife School, is leading the project.
Historically, the NIH has centered its research around specific diseases, which Carroll-Scott referred to as “a very biomedical model.”
Organized by the Common Fund, an NIH designation indicating that no one disease is being focused on, the ComPASS program is the first of its kind in attempting to address structures and systems that affect health outcomes.
Carroll-Scott insists upon the importance of research, especially federal funding, in alleviating the wide gaps that exist in healthcare. She credits the Covid-19 pandemic with exacerbating health inequity but also revealing the need for this level of research.
“Until we address the structures that cause the inequities in the first place, we’re just going to keep repeating them,” she said.
According to Carroll-Scott, Drexel’s commitment to civic engagement on an institution-wide level makes it an ideal candidate for leading the community-led ComPASS research projects. She cites the experiences her team has gained working with a variety of diverse communities as a key reason the NIH selected Dornsife for the role.