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Health Equity and Community Research

Mental health disorders and substance use — and their consequences — disproportionately affect underserved populations, such as racial and ethnic minority groups, persons living in poverty and those who are homeless. Social determinants abound: lack of access to health services and education, social stigma, neighborhood violence, and food and housing insecurities. The greatest burdens fall upon those who have long suffered from discrimination and society’s underinvestment in their communities. Our landmark studies investigate the multilevel causes and solutions to health inequities and guide the development of innovative health policy.

 
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Karen Abram, PhD

The Health Disparities and Public Policy Program co-led by Abram conducts large-scale epidemiological studies of traditionally underserved populations. Funded by the National Institute of Health, the Department of Justice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies, Health Disparities and Public Policy focuses on studying the health needs of racial and ethnic minorities and persons who are impoverished, homeless or incarcerated.

The interdisciplinary group co-led by Karen Abram, PhD, includes faculty-level research investigators, research assistants, interviewers, statistical programmers, data processors, administrative and support staff, as well as graduate students enrolled in the Clinical Psychology PhD and master’s programs in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Results from their research studies have provided the needed empirical data to guide U.S. policy: Findings have been cited in Supreme Court amicus briefs, congressional hearings and surgeon general’s reports. We are currently conducting two studies: the Northwestern Juvenile Project and the Northwestern Juvenile Project: Next Generation. Begun in 1995, the Northwestern Juvenile Project is the first large-scale longitudinal study of psychiatric disorders, antisocial and criminal behaviors and adult outcomes of juvenile detainees. Next Generation is the first intergenerational study of this special population. The group is investigating the characteristics that promote resilience among the children of the original participants in the Northwestern Juvenile Project. By identifying the strengths of children, their parents, social networks and communities, they will determine what experiences promote mental health, healthy relationships and educational attainment. 

Contact

710 North Lake Shore Drive
Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60611

For inquiries about this research, please contact healthdisparities@northwestern.edu.

Visit the Health Disparities and Public Policy Program webpage.

 
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Michael Brook, PhD

Michael Brook directs the Isaac Ray Research Program in Behavioral Sciences and the Law, which utilizes behavioral and public health science methodologies to better understand violence risk and the interaction between individuals and legal systems.

Michael Brook, PhD, ABPP, directs the Isaac Ray Research Program in Behavioral Sciences and the Law and co-leads the Forensic Neuropsychology Laboratory with Robert Hanlon, PhD.

The research program is rooted within the bio-psycho-social model of human behavior. Brook and the program members believe that the problems that exist at the intersection of human behavior and the law are inherently complex and, as such, are best informed by research approaches that are integrative and multidisciplinary. Current projects in their research program examine the integrations between personal and environmental factors that drive the gun violence epidemic, the use of digital technology to improve access to mental health for justice-involved individuals and the use of behavioral neuroscience tools to advance existing methodologies for violence risk assessment.

Contact

676 North Saint Clair Street
Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60611

For inquiries about this research, please contact irrp@northwestern.edu or visit the Isaac Ray Research Program webpage.

 
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Tracy Fehrenbach, PhD

Tracy Fehrenbach is involved with I Am Enough (IAE), a group therapy intervention for women of color impacted by the loss of a loved one to gun violence or incarceration.

Tracy Fehrenbach, PhD, works with I Am Enough (IAE), developed out of a community-based participatory research project directed in collaboration with Lisa D. Daniels, founder of the Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Justice, and close community partnerships with clergy and women who lost a loved one to gun violence or incarceration. IAE may be the first and only culturally responsive, trauma-focused intervention developed specifically for women of color impacted by the loss of a loved one to gun violence or mass incarceration.

Contact

710 North Lake Shore Drive
Suite 1200
Chicago, IL 60611

For inquiries about this research, please contact t-fehrenbach@northwestern.edu

 
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C. Hendricks Brown, PhD

The vision of the Building Relationships/Research for Implementation and Dissemination to Generate Equitable Systems (BRIDGES) Program is to improve health outcomes for all. Brown's team is composed of Feinberg faculty, trainees, postdoctoral students and research staff with a shared interest in:

- Developing and collaborating in application of innovative research methods and tools to conduct rigorous implementation research.
- Developing and delivering trainings on implementation research, implementation methodology and implementation practice.
- Fostering partnerships between communities, researchers and service delivery systems.
- Supporting improved delivery, evaluation and sustainment of health services.

The BRIDGES team led by C. Hendricks Brown, PhD, participates in a diverse set of research projects and initiatives, including:

Contact

710 North Lake Shore Drive
Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60611

For inquiries about this research, please contact bridges@northwestern.edu or visit the Bridges Program webpage.

 
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Tali Raviv, PhD
Tali Raviv's research program focuses on promoting mental health and resilience for children and communities impacted by poverty, toxic stress and trauma, and racism. We conduct school- and community-based intervention research in partnership with school and community leaders. Our work examines the effectiveness, implementation, dissemination and sustainability of school- and community-based interventions, with the goal of improving access to culturally relevant and evidence-informed prevention, early intervention, and mental health treatment programs and reducing health disparities. I also have a specific interest in school-based program development and evaluation.

Lurie Children’s Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR) is dedicated to promoting access to mental health services for youth. CCR develops, evaluates, and disseminates programs to promote systems change, increase access and reduce mental health disparities.

Current Projects

The Resilience Education to Advance Community Healing (REACH) Statewide Initiative is supported by Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER II) from the U.S Department of Education. REACH goals are: 1) To prepare educators and schools to support student mental health and resilience via trauma-informed policies and practices; 2) to foster educators’ personal and professional resilience and self-care; and 3) to assist districts in creating school mental health structures and data-riven approaches to addressing trauma and building resilience. CCR is partnering with the American Institutes of Research and Loyola University Chicago to conduct a mixed-methods analysis of the REACH implementation and outcomes.National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3; https://ncs3.org) is a SAMHSA-funded center within the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). The mission is to provide states, districts, and schools with the knowledge and tools to implement culturally responsive, trauma-informed policies and practices that promote equity and well-being.The Stress and Coping Toolkit is a series of brief lessons and activities implemented by 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teachers to build student coping skills and mental health awareness, promote positive social connections, and enhance resilience in the face of ongoing stress. The toolkit was developed in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, and we are examining feasibility, acceptability, and initial utility.Strengthening Transition Resilience of Newcomer Groups (STRONG). In partnership with Loyola University Chicago and Chicago Public Schools, we are using a group randomized mixed-methods design to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of the STRONG school-based intervention (Hoover, 2018) in promoting mental health and resilience among newcomer students.

 

Contact

680 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611

For inquiries about this research, please contact traviv@lurieschildren.org

 

 
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Emily Rogalski, PhD

Emily Rogalski is a clinical and cognitive neuroscientist and the associate director of the Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease at Feinberg. She directs three research programs:

  1. Neuroimaging of Aging, Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias
  2. Primary Progressive Aphasia Research Program (which includes the Communication Bridge non-pharmacological intervention program)
  3. The multisite SuperAging Research Initiative

Emily Rogalski, PhD, the Ann Adelmann Perkins and John S. Perkins Professor of Alzheimer's Disease Prevention, has a successful history of consistent foundation and NIH funding spanning more than 15 years. Her research uses a multimodal and interdisciplinary approach and primarily focuses on two aging perspectives: primary progressive aphasia (PPA), in which neurodegenerative disease invades the language network, and SuperAging, in which individuals are seemingly resistant to the deleterious changes in memory associated with “normal” cognitive aging.

SuperAging Research Initiative: SuperAgers are 80+ year-olds with episodic memory function that is at least as good as cognitively average individuals in their 50s and 60s. Rogalski operationalized and established the SuperAging phenotype and leads the NIA-funded multisite SuperAging Research Initiative.

PPA Research Program: Rogalski's PPA research spans more than 15 years and has focused on characterizing the clinical and anatomical features of PPA, ascertaining the drivers of disease progression and identifying potential genetic and developmental risk factors. This work has also led to fundamental changes in the understanding of language network organization.

Care, support and non-pharmacologic intervention: Another important goal of Rogalski's research is to optimize access to high-quality non-pharmacological care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementias (ADRD). She has developed educational programs, one of the first support groups for individuals living with PPA and, more recently, the Communication Bridge Intervention, which is designed to maximize communication and quality of life for individuals living with PPA and their carepartners. She currently leads an NIH Phase 2 randomized, clinical trial testing the efficacy of the Communication Bridge Intervention.

Multisite study leadership: Rogalski serves in leadership roles for two NIA-funded P30 awards and is the Neuroimaging Biomarker Core Leader for Northwestern’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) and the Pilot/Exploratory Studies Co-Core Leader for Northwestern’s Pepper Center. She is also a site PI for multi-center NIH initiatives, including the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) and Longitudinal Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Study (LEADS).

Contact

300 East Superior Street
Tarry Building
Chicago, IL 60611

For inquiries about this research, please contact e-rogalski@northwestern.edu.

Visit the Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease website.

 
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Linda Teplin, PhD

The Health Disparities and Public Policy Program co-led by Teplin conducts large-scale epidemiological studies of traditionally underserved populations. Funded by the National Institute of Health, the Department of Justice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies, Health Disparities and Public Policy focuses on studying the health needs of racial and ethnic minorities and persons who are impoverished, homeless or incarcerated.

The interdisciplinary group co-led by Linda Teplin, PhD, includes faculty-level research investigators, research assistants, interviewers, statistical programmers, data processors, administrative and support staff, as well as graduate students enrolled in the Clinical Psychology PhD and master’s programs in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Results from their research studies have provided the needed empirical data to guide U.S. policy: Findings have been cited in Supreme Court amicus briefs, congressional hearings and surgeon general’s reports. We are currently conducting two studies: the Northwestern Juvenile Project and the Northwestern Juvenile Project: Next Generation. Begun in 1995, the Northwestern Juvenile Project is the first large-scale longitudinal study of psychiatric disorders, antisocial and criminal behaviors and adult outcomes of juvenile detainees. Next Generation is the first intergenerational study of this special population. The group is investigating the characteristics that promote resilience among the children of the original participants in the Northwestern Juvenile Project. By identifying the strengths of children, their parents, social networks and communities, they will determine what experiences promote mental health, healthy relationships and educational attainment. 

Contact

710 North Lake Shore Drive
Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60611

For inquiries about this research, please contact healthdisparities@northwestern.edu or visit the Health Disparities and Public Policy Program webpage.

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