Institute’s Pilot Program to Address Health Inequities

Published December 1, 2023

UB’s Community Health Equity Research Institute is launching its first-ever pilot funding program to address health equities and adverse social determinants of health. The institute will fund two projects with a maximum budget of $40,000 each.


The deadline to submit letters of intent is Dec. 14. Complete information, including a recorded Zoom session with tips on applying, is at this link.

Striking Root Causes of Social Determinants of Health

Timothy F. Murphy MD; Department of Medicine SUNY Distinguished Professor; Senior Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research; Research Focus; Infectious Disease; Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; University at Buffalo 2017.

Timothy F. Murphy, MD

The focus is on projects that prioritize addressing health inequities in Buffalo’s African American community, the largest racial group in Buffalo. Successful strategies that come from these projects can then be modified and applied to other disadvantaged populations.

The purpose of the seed funding is to develop preliminary studies to attract major extramural funding to attack the root causes of social determinants of health.

“Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people live, work, learn and play,” says Timothy F. Murphy, MD, director of the institute and SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “The root causes of these social determinants are practices and policies found in underdeveloped neighborhoods and communities, which are driven by systemic structural racism.”

Social determinants of health include, but aren’t limited to, poverty, educational opportunity, unemployment, poor housing stock, limited access to healthy food, underdeveloped neighborhoods, the criminal justice system and environmental exposures, including climate change.

“This pilot funding mechanism is somewhat unique in that the Community Health Equity Research Institute’s Community Advisory Board will be involved in evaluating the projects,” notes Heather Orom, PhD, associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion in the School of Public Health and Health Professions and chair of the institute’s pilot studies committee. “They will make recommendations to help the projects be more responsive to community priorities and help researchers engage community members in ways that are truly collaborative.”

Aim is to Produce Data for a Larger Proposal

Successful projects will: address root causes that underlie adverse social determinants of health and health inequity, ultimately leading to institutional and systemic changes; involve at least one community-based partner; and be designed with the goal of attracting larger-scale external funding.

“Applicants should be proposing projects that will ultimately lead to real and systemic change, and are larger in scope than what the pilot funding can support,” Murphy explains. “The goal is for the pilot studies to produce data that will strengthen a larger proposal.”

Successful applications must include a clear plan for future extramural funding, such as an NIH R01, a National Science Foundation grant or a grant from a private foundation, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

A week after the Dec. 14 deadline for letters of intent, selected applicants will be invited to submit full proposals, which will be due on Feb. 20, 2024, following presentations to the institute’s community advisory board in mid-January.

The institute’s pilot funding program is supported by the Community Health Equity Research Institute Fund.