Health Extension and Clinical and Translational Science: An Innovative Strategy for Community Engagement

J Am Board Fam Med. 2017 Jan 2;30(1):94-99. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2017.01.160119.


Health Extension Regional Officers (HEROs) through the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNMHSC) help to facilitate university-community engagement throughout New Mexico. HEROs, based in communities across the state, link priority community health needs with university resources in education, service, and research. Researchers' studies are usually aligned with federal funding priorities rather than with health priorities expressed by communities. To help overcome this misalignment, the UNM Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) provides partial funding for HEROs to bridge the divide between research priorities of UNMHSC and health priorities of the state's communities. A bidirectional partnership between HEROs and CTSC researchers was established, which led to: 1) increased community engaged studies through the CTSC, 2) the HERO model itself as a subject of research, 3) a HERO-driven increase in local capacity in scholarship and grant writing, and 4) development of training modules for investigators and community stakeholders on community-engaged research. As a result, 5 grants were submitted, 4 of which were funded, totaling $7,409,002.00, and 3 research articles were published. Health extension can serve as a university-funded, community-based bridge between community health needs and Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) research capacity, opening avenues for translational research.

Keywords: Grants; Health Priorities; New Mexico; Research Personnel; Translational Medical Research; Universities; Writing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Awards and Prizes
  • Biomedical Research / economics*
  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Community-Based Participatory Research / economics*
  • Community-Institutional Relations / economics*
  • Financial Management / methods
  • Health Priorities / economics*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • New Mexico
  • Research Personnel / economics*
  • Universities / economics