University Community | Research and Impact

Appalachian institute expands focus to advance health equity research locally and globally

The institute formerly known as the Appalachian Rural Health Institute has broadened its focus beyond rural health and expanded its reach beyond Appalachia. It now operates as the Appalachian Institute to Advance Health Equity Science (ADVANCE).

The organization's next goal is getting more faculty and student researchers from across the University involved in examining health equity from a broad array of disciplines to help underserved populations both locally and in a global context.

"With health equity being a broad topic that can be approached from many perspectives, those of us who study it are dispersed across the University and its schools and colleges. We want to create a space for all faculty who work on these issues to collaborate and receive support on their endeavors," said Cory Cronin, ADVANCE director and associate professor of social and public health in the College of Health Sciences and Professions.

"We are excited to build opportunities for faculty, and also potentially for student researchers looking to explore this area," Cronin said.

He noted that Ohio University already has faculty researchers and expertise in health disparities, health equity, and population health that are critical areas for research in the region, nationally, and globally. ADVANCE will help promote the hiring and retention of diverse faculty members, promote collaborations, and increase extramural funding in the health and social sciences.

"Our goal with the ADVANCE research institute is to support interdisciplinary research related to health equity across Ohio University," said Berkeley Franz, associate director of ADVANCE and the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Ralph S. Licklider, D.O. Endowed Faculty Fellow in Population Health Science in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

"The United States stands out in terms of inequality in health outcomes between different social groups. The goal of ADVANCE is to support researchers whose work is focused on understanding the social factors that underlie health and improving health outcomes," Franz said. "While the previous iteration of this institution focused on the health of rural Appalachia, ADVANCE is committed to supporting health-related research in underserved communities locally, nationally, and in the global context."

Recognizing that faculty expertise in health disparities, health equity, and population health that are critical areas for research in the region and beyond, the Ohio University Board of Trustees recently approved the institute's name change, noting that it will enhance collaboration between the College of Health Sciences and Professions and other Ohio University colleges to promote population health research.

October 21, 2022
Staff reports