A new collaborative led by the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research (IFH) has received a $3.6 million, three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to increase participation of New Jersey black, Hispanic and Asian older adults in medical research.

“New Jersey ranks among the top states in the country for overall health, but it is also among the worst in health equity. For the state’s 1.3 million older adults, there are equally large disparities, especially among those who are black, Hispanic or Asian, and who too often are not being sustainably engaged in research,” said IFH Director Dr. XinQi Dong, M.D., M.P.H., the lead researcher.

The New Jersey Minority Aging Collaborative (NJMAC) will bring together researchers and community leaders to help support the recruitment and retention of minority older adults in studies, particularly those interested in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, mental health, multi-comorbidities, health policy and interactions with health care providers.

Community partner organizations include Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey’s three campuses, as well as Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, the Asian Resource Center for Minority Aging ResearchRutgers New Jersey Cooperative ExtensionRutgers/RWJBarnabas Health, the Center for Asian Health at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, the Trenton Health Team (THT) and New Brunswick Tomorrow.

Community leaders will guarantee studies reflect real-life challenges and genuine feedback from aging adults, providing researchers with more relevant information to study.

“Trenton Health Team is proud to partner with RU to make sure the voices and experience of our community members are reflected in this NIH project,” said THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson. “To create innovative solutions, research must be rooted in the community.”

THT serves residents of the six zip codes of Trenton, NJ, with a particular emphasis on the vulnerable and underserved. Community health workers and other THT programs  increase access to quality healthcare for all as we strive to build health literacy, including knowledge about prevention and opportunities for healthy lifestyle choices. Through hands-on interventions, coupled with improved policy and infrastructure, our goal is to improve outcomes for the community as a whole.

Currently, NJMAC is focused on Newark, New Brunswick and Trenton, but it has plans to expand to other New Jersey areas. It will use a “collective impact” design, leveraging the established trust and relationships between the community organizations and aging adults, and the existing framework of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, with its research stations and offices throughout the state. Read more

See news story in ROI-NJ