Erin Donovan teaching class

Second Round of CHER Funds Bring New, Interdisciplinary Research Teams Together​

By Mike Mackert

When the Center for Health Communication (CHC) began formal operation as a joint academic center between the Moody College of Communication and Dell Medical School, one of the main goals of the partnership was to find ways to facilitate interdisciplinary research. I’ve always loved the opportunities to work with colleagues from a range of health fields who know so much about the health issues and populations they’re working with. Everyone who works in health communication ends up feeling the same way – the learning and partnership between people who come to health communication from the communication vs. health sides of the field can be immensely fun and rewarding. The chance to design a program that would help make that happen and support new partnership was an exciting challenge.

To meet that goal, the CHC launched its Communication for Health, Empathy, and Resilience (CHER) grant program in Fall 2017. The primary requirement to apply for funding through CHER is that each proposal has to include a faculty member from Moody College of Communication and one from Dell Medical School. In its first cycle, a number of teams formed for the first time to pursue a range of questions, from how communication strategies correlate with patient perceptions of empathy to how clinical trials might better enroll underrepresented patients. The first year of the program exceeded my hopes for participation, and the new teams that formed continue to pursue that research and additional funding to advance the research they began through CHER.

In our second year of the program, we had another competitive cohort of applicants.  I’m excited to announce that we funded two excellent projects that again bring together faculty from the far reaches of campus to pursue projects that will advance health communication research and practice. They are:

Developing Public Health Messaging to Reduce Asthma Disparities
Principal Investigator: Dr. LeeAnn Kahlor, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
Co-Investigator: Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, Department of Population Health

Optimizing Messages for Personalized Chronic Disease Prevention and Management
Principal Investigator: Dr. Marissa Burgermaster, Departments of Population Health and Nutritional Sciences
Co-Investigator: Dr. Matt McGlone, Department of Communication Studies
Co-Investigator: Dr. Brandon Allport, Departments of Population Health, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics

We are looking forward to seeing what this new batch of partnerships and promising research projects produce in the year ahead.  Congratulations to these teams!