Texas Christian University received a $1 million grant to prioritize research topics to advance racial health equity.

Dr. Dru Riddle, director of TCU’s Center for Translational Research, is the principal investigator who will lead a prestigious collaboration of investigators and institutions to undertake a comprehensive effort to listen to stakeholders and communities, perform landscape analyses of existing resources and prioritize next steps for systematic reviews with the goal of reducing health disparities.

TCU’s Center for Translational Research is one of the component centers of the Health Innovation Institute at TCU, which is led by Dr. Susan Mace Weeks, vice provost at TCU.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest American philanthropic organization focused solely on health and health care, awarded the grant to members of the Cochrane US Network, including TCU. The university serves as the lead entity, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also partners in the research.

“TCU and our Center for Translational Research has been about making research accessible and applicable to everyone,” Riddle said. “This work is important as it helps set the stage for understanding how structural racism impacts research outcomes, guidelines and recommendations for care.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation defines health equity to mean that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible, which requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination and their consequences.

“By establishing standards to improve the methods, conduct and reporting of systematic reviews specific to racial health equity, Cochrane can help reduce racial health disparities in the U.S.,” said Tiffany Duque, Cochrane senior officer, US Network.

Systematic reviews are rigorous and comprehensive syntheses and critical appraisals of evidence. Cochrane explains that they are the gold standard research tool to improve dissemination of evidence-based practices that can reduce or eliminate disparities. 

“To date, guidance documents for systematic reviews have not routinely considered health equity when selecting topics, considering outcomes, conducting critical appraisal, assessing applicability of evidence to specific populations or settings, nor when communicating findings to key stakeholders and communities,” Riddle said.

This grant sets out to change that, and Weeks said Riddle will be the key asset to the effort.

“TCU truly has an extraordinary scholar in Dr. Riddle,” Weeks said. “His knowledge and research skills would be an asset to any project – especially one as critical to our society as this one – and we are fortunate to have him elevating the presence of TCU and taking the lead on such important national research.” 

In the spring of 2020, Riddle accepted a co-chair position to help lead Cochrane US, an organization that exists to promote informed health care decisions through filtering trusted evidence. He soon found himself representing TCU nationally and internationally while seeking to educate people on obtaining sound insight in an age of swirling information during an unprecedented global pandemic. Read more.

The health equity research began Oct. 1 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2023.

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