Two-day conference will highlight community-engaged research

Not all university research takes place in a lab. Some takes place in the community, where researchers work with individuals dealing with health and social issues.

As more Washington University researchers work with community organizations, more knowledge will be needed about best practices, current trends and addressing regulations.

Community-engaged research will be the focus of a two-day conference at Washington University School of Medicine Sept. 26 and 27. The theme of the event is “Community engaged research: Exploring the unique community-academic relationship.”

Two years ago, Washington University’s Human Research Protection Office (HRPO) developed its Community-Engaged Research Program to meet the needs of WUSTL researchers in research collaborations with community-based organizations. The office works with community partners to ensure regulatory compliance for both parties.

Sarah Fowler-Dixon, PhD, education specialist in HRPO, said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) sponsors about three forums a year in different regions of the country, and St. Louis was selected for 2011.

The conference planning committee, in consultation with Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, chose to partner with Nashville, Tenn-based Meharry Medical College, a historically black college that is very involved in community-engaged research, to hold the conference. The conference will include speakers from Meharry, Vanderbilt University, the University of North Carolina and other institutions as well as community-based organizations.

“We want this to be a conversation between the academic community and community partners about issues related to community-engaged research,” Fowler-Dixon says. “We want to do this on a national level to share ideas, best practices and strategies that will advance research in this area.”

On Sept. 26, OHRP will hold a community forum from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Eric P. Newman Education Center. Wayne Riley, MD, president and chief executive of Meharry, will give the keynote address on “Building Partnerships and Trust.”

The rest of the day will include breakout sessions and an opportunity to meet federal representatives from OHRP and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, followed by a reception.

On. Sept. 27, the conference will include a keynote address by Rick Kittles, PhD, scientific director and co-founder of African Ancestry Inc. and associate professor of medicine, of epidemiology and of biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He will speak on “Challenges in Community Engaged Research and Strategies to Overcome Them.”

Other activities include a panel discussion, round-table discussions, lunch and poster presentations and think-tank discussions.

The forum and conference are geared toward IRB members, administrators and staff, principal investigators, research personnel, institutional officials, human subject protection professionals and administrators, patient and participant advocates, privacy and compliance officers, legal counsel and staff, public health officials, community representatives and anyone interested in community-engaged research.

The event is co-sponsored by the OHRP, Washington University in St. Louis and Meharry Medical College, as well as Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Saint Louis University, SSM Health Care, St. Luke’s Hospital, Sisters of Mercy Health System and the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative.

Registration is $95 for one day and $188 for both days if completed before July 31. Registration between Aug. 1-Sept. 14 is $120 for one day and $200 for both days. Late registration after Sept. 15 is $175 for one day and $250 for both days. Valid student ID is required for all students.

The submission deadline for posters has been extended to Aug. 1. For poster guidelines, to register or more information about the conference, visit