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Global Health Disparities Group Moves Its Headquarters to MSU

Morgan State University has been selected to host the Central Office of the International Collaboration for Participatory Health Research (ICPHR), an organization established in 2009 to address the problem of health inequalities. The affiliation between the global organization and Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University officially commenced operations in February 2021 and is slated to continue for five years.

ICPHR’s focus area, participatory health research, or PHR, seeks to maximize the participation of those whose life or work is the subject of said research, in all stages of the research process, an approach that has become “increasingly important to finding solutions in communities where the occurrence and severity of health problems (are) greatest,” ICPHR’s website states. The organization’s goals align with the mission of Morgan’s School of Community Health and Policy (SCHP), which is “to develop a corps of health professionals committed to transforming urban communities by promoting health and reducing health inequities.” SCHP professor Payam Sheikhattari, M.D., and Gillian Silver, associate director for administration of Morgan’s ASCEND program, are leading the transition of the central office to Baltimore from its previous home in Berlin, Germany.

ICPHR has more than 400 members from 20 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, Oceania and Africa. The group has organized 11 annual working meetings in various countries — including the 10th Annual Working Meeting at Morgan in June 2019 — at which academic and community researchers have presented findings of their projects and initiated international collaborations around research, training and scholarly contributions to the field. The meeting at Morgan two years ago attracted more than 70 individuals from 12 countries around the world.

The goal of the ICPHR is “to establish (participatory health research) as an  integrated part of local, regional and national strategies to meet the needs of disadvantaged communities by addressing issues of health inequality.” The group has made significant contributions to its field by writing joint publications in the areas of defining and understanding PHR’s core concepts, enhancing the quality of PHR studies and reinforcing and increasing the impact of PHR.

“Hosting ICPHR’s central office enhances Morgan’s capacity to develop high-caliber international collaborations as well as faculty and student exchange programs,” said Dr. Sheikhattari.

As Morgan aspires to attain R1 research classification, opportunities such as this, and others in this space, provide the critical touch points necessary for the University to achieve recognition as a higher education institution at the highest level of research activity. Adding to the valuation and merit of the University’s affiliation with ICPHR, Dr. Sheikhattari summates, “In addition, it will enhance both Morgan and ICPHR’s capacity to secure international research and training awards through U.S. federal and other grant opportunities. This is aligned with Morgan’s motto, ‘Growing the Future, Leading the World,’ and brings global perspective and more resources to address health disparities in Baltimore, the United States and beyond.”

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