Background: Community engagement has become a prominent element in medical research and is an important component of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program. Area Health Education Centers engage communities in education and workforce development.
Methods: Engaging Communities in Education and Research (ECER) is a successful collaboration among the Colorado Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the Colorado Clinical Translational Science Institute, and Shared Network of Collaborative Ambulatory Practices and Partners--Colorado's practice-based research collaborative. The ECER Conference is an annual conference of community members, health care providers, clinical preceptors, AHEC board members, university faculty, primary care investigators, program administrators, and community organization leaders.
Results: Over 1,000 people have participated in the ECER Conference representing all regions of Colorado. Several projects from the "new ideas" breakout session have been developed and completed. Six-month follow-up provided evidence of numerous new collaborations, campus-community partnerships, and developing research projects. Several new collaborations highlight the long-term nature of building on relationships started at the ECER Conference.
Discussion and conclusion: ECER has been a successful collaboration to develop and support campus-community collaborations in Colorado. Although seemingly just a simple 3-day conference, we have found that this event has lead to many important partnerships.
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