Researchers and representatives from community-based organizations arrived at Community-Driven Research Day looking for a perfect match who shared their interest in solving problems to create a better, healthier environment.
“Here we stand besides partners to improve the life of the community,” said Glenn Bryan, assistant vice president of Community Relations at the University of Pennsylvania, as he welcomed attendees and 32 presenters. “My hope is that you make a connection, and out of that connection you sustain a healthy [collaboration] moving forward.”
The annual event took place Feb. 3 at the Biomedical Research Building at the University of Pennsylvania and attracted more than 250 researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Jefferson University, and other local institutions. They met with an array of community-based organizations to exchange ideas and form lasting relationships with the power to impact healthy neighborhoods.
“Community partnerships and collaborations expand our reach in the community far more than we could by ourselves,” said Cheryl Bettigole, division director for Chronic Disease Prevention at Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health, who was one of the event’s keynote speakers. “They help us create new and innovative ideas.”
For example, Bettigole’s research focused on decreasing the high rate of Philadelphians who are diagnosed with hypertension. Through a partnership with Temple University’s Center for Asian Health, the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association, and the Asian Committee Health Coalition, they tackled the challenge of lowering the sodium in Chinese cuisine while keeping customers happy. They began the Healthy Chinese Takeout Initiative, which served more than 43 million meals over two years that used less sauce and lower sodium products. Over 24 months, significant reductions in sodium content were seen, ranging from 13 percent to 34 percent.
Marjie Mogul, director of research at Maternity Care Coalition, also a keynote speaker, encouraged Community-Driven Research Day participants to contribute their unique set of resources because they add depth to the research process.
“If each of us takes a piece of the puzzle and we work together, we can build a city of health and justice that we want for our future,” Mogul said.