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BCTR and the new Cornell Center for Health Equity


From right, Drs. Avery August and Monika Safford, co-directors of the Center for Health Equity, celebrate the center's opening with Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, and Dr. David Satcher, the founding director of and senior adviser to the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Cornell Tri-Campus Health Equity Symposium, March 15-16 at Weill Cornell Medicine.

From right, Drs. Avery August and Monika Safford, co-directors of the Center for Health Equity, celebrate the center's opening with Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, and Dr. David Satcher, the founding director of and senior adviser to the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Cornell Tri-Campus Health Equity Symposium, March 15-16 at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Adapted by Sheri Hall for the BCTR from an article by Timothy Malcolm for the Cornell Chronicle

The newly-formed Cornell Center for Health Equity (CCHEq) held its inaugural symposium on March 15 and 16 at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. David Satcher’s keynote address emphasized that health equity means “everyone has the opportunity to achieve their highest state of health.”

The CCHEq brings together researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell’s Ithaca campus, and Cornell’s Tech Campus in NYC. Together they will work to better understand why health outcomes vary among demographic groups and generate new evidence on how to eliminate health disparities with the goal of achieving health equity for people locally, regionally, and nationally.

Portrait of Jennifer Tiffany

Jennifer Tiffany

Jennifer Tiffany, BCTR’s director of outreach and community engagement is a key faculty member working with the CCHEq. Tiffany also serves as the

executive director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension’s New York City programs (CUCE-NYC) and leads the Community Engagement in Research team at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Center.  These roles enable her to work with the CCHEq to bring together researchers from New York City and Ithaca and to promote partnerships with communities, practitioners, and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE).

“At a time when economic inequality within the U.S. and New York state is extreme and rising, working actively to promote health equity is particularly crucial,” Tiffany said. “Partnerships with communities that experience extreme health disparities are vital to this work, as are the kinds of multidisciplinary and cross-campus partnerships the CCHEq seeks to develop and sustain. The BCTR has strong interests, resources, and capabilities in all of these areas.”

Tiffany and Elaine Wethington, an associate director of the BCTR, both participated in the March symposium. Tiffany presented on “Using Geospatial Mapping to Plan and Assess Programs" as part of the session on community-partnered research. She also participated in a panel called "Building a Sustainable Community-Engaged Research Program.”

Portrait of Elaine Wethington

Elaine Wethington

Wethington, who is co-director and director of pilot studies of the BCTR’s Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life, has been working for over a year with CCHEq investigators and other Ithaca-based investigators on proposal submissions through the CCHeq. She has also recruited other Ithaca investigators to take part in proposals and other collaborative projects with CCHEq.

“I hope that many other Ithaca faculty follow me in affiliating with the Center for Health Equity,” Wethington said. “Collaboration with the CCHEq is an outstanding opportunity for social scientists to partner on research projects that will have immediate application to improve the lives of New Yorkers living with disadvantage.”

The CCHEq will address disparities in heart disease, stroke, and cancer outcomes in disadvantaged minority communities in the diverse, urban New York City area, as well as in more rural regions of New York state. Working with organizations and providers deeply engaged in their communities, including caregivers and local health centers, the investigators will analyze the role of policy, societal biases, socio-economic status, educational attainment, health care providers, and the home and family environment in overcoming these disparate health outcomes.

For one of its projects, the CCHEq is engaging with Afro-Caribbean communities that increasingly use New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Using data showing higher prevalence of hypertension among populations of African descent, center investigators are working with colleagues at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist to plan events that encourage residents to be screened and receive treatment for hypertension. They hope that these activities will also motivate residents to be screened for common cancers – including breast, colon, and prostate cancers – that are also of higher prevalence in African-descent communities.

Along with that work, the CCHEq hopes to use data collected by Dr. Margaret McNairy, the Bonnie Johnson Sacerdote Clinical Scholar in Women’s Health and an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, on the prevalence of emerging cardiovascular diseases in Haiti. Her work may become useful in identifying and promoting treatment of cardiovascular diseases in Haitian communities in New York City, said Dr. Monika Safford, co-director of the Cornell Center for Health Equity and chief of general internal medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

In Ithaca, Rebecca Seguin-Fowler, associate professor of nutritional sciences in the Colleges of Human Ecology and of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is seeking to reduce heart disease risk factors among women in the central, upstate, and Finger Lakes regions of the New York. In one project, called Strong Hearts, Healthy Communities, Seguin-Fowler is collaborating with CCE educators and the Bassett Healthcare Network’s Center for Rural Community Health to implement and evaluate a six-month cardiovascular disease risk-reduction program for overweight or obese women who are sedentary. The first phase of this community-randomized trial demonstrated effectiveness in reducing multiple disease risk factors, including weight loss and improved physical activity.

As the CCHEq grows, students in New York City and Ithaca will conduct research and work with fellow scientists and staff members across the two campuses. This aligns with one of Cornell’s strategic priorities, which emphasizes a connection between the medical school and other parts of the university through a distinct focus, in this case improving health equity.

The translational nature of the work, which brings together researchers across Cornell campuses and involves community members, is in line with the BCTR’s mission to speed and strengthen connections between research and practice.

“We want to drill down on this issue, so we are partnering with communities to understand their priorities and perspectives, collaboratively developing interventions based on science as well as community realities, and partnering with community organizations to sustain those interventions,” Safford said. “Cornell has such a broad reach. While we’re at the very beginning stages of our center, tapping into that Cornell community and potentially making an impact regionally is really exciting.”

Cornell Center for Health Equity established - Cornell Chronicle

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New book examines incarceration’s impact on children and families


news-2017-incarcerationbook-inpostBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

More than 2 million U.S. children have a parent in prison – a circumstance that impacts individual children as well as our society on the whole.

The newest book in the Bronfenbrenner Series on the Ecology of Human Development, When Parents Are Incarcerated: Interdisciplinary Research and Interventions to Support Children (American Psychological Association), analyzes how parental incarceration affects children and what can be done to help them.

The book is edited by Christopher Wildeman, professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell, Anna R. Haskins, assistant professor of sociology at Cornell and Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, a professor in the human development and family studies department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The book explores the issues from multi-disciplinary perspectives. Sociologists and demographers used complex techniques to develop causal analyses with a strong focus on social inequality. Developmental psychologists and family scientists explore how micro-level family interactions can moderate the consequences of parental incarceration. Criminologists offer important insights into the consequences of parental criminality and incarceration. And practitioners who design and evaluate interventions review a variety of programs targeting parents, children, and the criminal justice system.

Editors Chris Wildeman, Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, and Anna Haskins

Editors Chris Wildeman, Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, and Anna Haskins

“The interdisciplinary nature of this book is particularly unique and important, as successful solutions to such complicated issues are beyond the scope of a single approach,” Haskins said. “The perspectives of several disciplines are necessary in broadening understandings around the impact of parental incarceration for inequality among children.”

The work in the book was drawn from the 5th Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner ConferenceMinimizing the Collateral Damage: Interventions to Diminish the Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children. Held during September 2016, the conference included scholars from variety of disciplines and more than 12 institutions and programs.

The book is the fifth in a series of volumes based on research presented at a Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference. The first four books in the series are:

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Nicholas Kristof to give Bronfenbrenner Centennial Lecture Oct. 2


Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof, a writer for The New York Times known for his work exposing social injustice, will speak on campus Monday, Oct. 2, at 5 p.m. in Call Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Kristof will deliver the Bronfenbrenner Centennial Lecture to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, who taught at Cornell for more than 50 years and is considered by many to be the father of translational research.

Kristof’s lecture is titled “A Path Appears: Promoting the Welfare of Children.” The talk will draw on his work in promoting gender equality around the world and on public health and poverty with a focus on children. His reporting has documented the living conditions of people across the globe and advocated for human rights.

“Nicholas Kristof is the perfect person to help us celebrate the centennial of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s birth,” said Karl Pillemer, director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development. “Urie and Nicholas share an interest in protecting the rights of children and in the ways citizens and policymakers can act positively to change our society for the better.”

Bronfenbrenner’s work at Cornell included developing theory and research designs at the frontiers of developmental science, finding ways to apply those theories to use in policy and practice, and communicating his findings to the public and to decision-makers.

His research was among the first to demonstrate the environmental and social influences on child development and was critical in helping the U.S. government develop the Head Start program, which provides early childhood education, nutrition and parenting support to low-income families.

The Bronfenbrenner Center in the College of Human Ecology capitalizes on translational research as a means to more closely link the twin missions of research and outreach.

Kristof holds a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University and a law degree from Oxford University, England, which he attended as a Rhodes scholar.

Nicholas Kristof to give Bronfenbrenner Centennial Lecture Oct. 2 - Cornell Chronicle

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Bronfenbrenner talk highlights inequalities in children’s health


_R2T0680.jpgBy Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

University of Pittsburgh professor Karen Matthews explored biological links to persistent social inequalities in childhood health during the 2017 Bronfenbrenner Lecture, held June 15 in Martha Van Rensselaer Hall.

Hosted by the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research in the College of Human Ecology, Matthews guided nearly 50 audience members through the most recent research on the inequality in health between children in different socio-economic groups.

“I was given the task of trying to lay out some of the key biological pathways that might be important in understanding connections between the social environment and children’s health,” said Matthews, a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and professor of epidemiology, psychology, and clinical and translational science at Pittsburgh. “And this is really a daunting task because there are so many things that impinge on children’s development that are important in this context; one could spend an entire semester on this topic.”

The lecture highlighted the mission of the Bronfenbrenner Center and the work of the late Cornell scientist Urie Bronfenbrenner, whose ecological systems theory recognized the need to consider multiple levels of interacting influences on a child’s development, including family, community and the greater culture.

Matthews’ work addresses the psychosocial and biological connections between socio-demographic factors and poor health; the development of cardiovascular behavioral risk factors in childhood and adolescence; the influence of menopause on women’s health; and the role of stress-induced physiological responses and sleep in the etiology of heart disease and hypertension.

Matthews stressed that poverty and low socio-economic standing are about more than dollars and cents; they also involve a slew of environmental and psychological factors that can impact a child’s development. Family turmoil, exposure to community violence, early childhood separation, substandard housing and exposure to toxins, noise and crowding all can impact a child’s health, she said.

“As you can imagine, poverty in childhood is not simply low income relative to needs, but also exposure to disadvantaged environments more generally,” she said. “Research points to 65 percent of median-income children in the analysis had zero or one of these particular exposures, whereas the poor had three to four.”

Matthews also reviewed how day-to-day factors can impact several of a child’s physiological systems including the cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory and sympathetic nervous systems.

“A number of the theories of how low socio-economic status or poverty gets under the skin of children have to do with exposure to chronic stress,” Matthews said. “Emotional stressors impact the cerebral cortex, which in turn impacts the hypothalamus, which activates corticotropin-releasing hormone and eventually leads to the release of cortisol.”

Cortisol, a byproduct of chronic stress, increases the risk of numerous health problems including anxiety, depression, heart disease, weight gain and concentration impairment, she said.

“You can imagine that this environment would not be conducive to positive children’s health,” Matthews said.

Matthews concluded the lecture with ideas for, and a small discussion about, future research focusing both on additional physiological parameters as well as holistic data measurement and research design that narrows down models for easier analysis.

She also discussed interventions that are considered low-hanging fruit. These include policy changes to prevent exposure to toxins, such as lead exposure through water pipes, and public service commitments to inform families about the research to help them make changes at home.

Bronfenbrenner talk highlights inequalities in children's health - Cornell Chronicle

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Iscol lecturer: U.S. justice has always oppressed minorities


By Shashank Vura for the Cornell Chronicle

glenn e martin

Glenn E. Martin

When Glenn E. Martin went to the White House last year along with 40 other experts in the field of criminal justice, his colleagues were all accorded green passes. Martin, a former prison inmate, was given a pink pass reading “needs escort.”

Despite the 21 years that had elapsed since his conviction, Martin said he was held back at one point by a Secret Service agent and prevented from going further.

“This moment speaks to barriers Americans face with turning their lives around,” he said, lamenting the “lack of second chances” in U.S. society. “Every sentence, even one day in jail, is a life sentence,” Martin said, noting the “stigma stays with you forever.”

Martin, founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the U.S. correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Martin is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in New York state prisons. He shared his experiences in the Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service Lecture, “Mass Incarceration: An Experience Shared by 65 Million Americans,” Sept. 27 on campus. The lecture is hosted annually by the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research in the College of Human Ecology.

“Is mass incarceration an insurmountable problem?” Martin asked the audience. The U.S. has “five percent of the world’s population,” he said, but accounts for “25 percent of the world’s prison population.” More than 2 million Americans languish in prison, Martin said, and 40 percent of the prison population is composed of black people, who make up 14 percent of the U.S. population. Martin attributed this to a “justice system [which] is only the newest iteration of a system of oppression that has existed for hundreds of years” against racial minorities.

He shared the story of one of his current employees, Richard Simpson Bay. After a conviction for attempted murder of a police offer, the illiterate Bay appealed cases for 24 years before a federal court found him not guilty and that the “prosecutor broke rules” and “conjured up his own idea of what happened that night.” During his incarceration, Bay’s 19-year-old son was gunned down by a 14-year-old boy.

Bay became an advocate for his son’s murderer, making that case that he, too, was a “victim, not an offender.” The prosecutor capitulated and the culprit avoided adult prison. Martin said Bay showed “great compassion” and suggested society does not invest the resources necessary to help “high-crime, high incarceration communities high in victimization,” but punishes them instead.

“Everyone has chance to turn around and change their lives, but only if those in position of privilege create a space for that to happen and are willing to invest in people,” Martin said. Only then can we “get rid of a classist, homophobic, racist and xenophobic [criminal justice] system.”

Iscol lecturer: U.S. justice has always oppressed minorities - Cornell Chronicle

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Fifth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, Thursday, April 19, 2018

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Fifth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference

Minimizing the Collateral Damage: Interventions to Diminish the Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children

September 15-16, 2016

Conference program

The fifth biennial conference in honor of the legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner convened a panel of leading researchers in an effort to cultivate interdisciplinary perspectives and consider the micro-, meso-, and macro-level interventions that best minimize the consequences of parental incarceration for children, families, and communities. Presentations emphasized the strongest interdisciplinary research on the consequences of paternal and maternal incarceration for children (with special attention to mediators and moderators) as well as discussing policies and individual-level interventions that could help lessen the likelihood of parental incarceration or help children whose parents have experienced incarceration. The conference’s overarching goal is to strengthen the connections between research, policy, and practice in the area of collateral consequences of mass incarceration for children.


Minimizing the Collateral Damage: Interventions to Diminish the Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children

September 15-16, 2016

Conference program

The fifth biennial conference in honor of the legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner convened a panel of leading researchers in an effort to cultivate interdisciplinary perspectives and consider the micro-, meso-, and macro-level interventions that best minimize the consequences of parental incarceration for children, families, and communities. Presentations emphasized the strongest interdisciplinary research on the consequences of paternal and maternal incarceration for children (with special attention to mediators and moderators) as well as discussing policies and individual-level interventions that could help lessen the likelihood of parental incarceration or help children whose parents have experienced incarceration. The conference’s overarching goal is to strengthen the connections between research, policy, and practice in the area of collateral consequences of mass incarceration for children.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Bronfenbrenner Conference    Christopher Wildeman    conference    incarceration    inequality    video   

Doing Translational Research podcast: Christopher Wildeman, Thursday, April 19, 2018

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Doing Translational Research podcast: Christopher Wildeman

Incarceration and Inequality
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Christopher Wildeman
Department of Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University


Incarceration and Inequality
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Christopher Wildeman
Department of Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University

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2016 Iscol Lecture: Glenn Martin, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

 
glennmartin

Mass Incarceration: An Experience Shared by 65 Million Americans
Glenn Martin, JustLeadershipUSA

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
7:30pm
G10 Biotech Building



Is mass incarceration an "insurmountable problem"?  Glenn E. Martin, the founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA, will address this question in the 2016 Iscol Lecture. Mr. Martin is at the forefront of the effort to bring the voices of those directly impacted by mass incarceration into the criminal justice reform conversation. Hear about his goals to cut the U.S. correctional population in half by 2030, his organization's campaign to close Rikers Island Correctional Center, and how you can work on criminal justice reform next summer.

Glenn E. Martin is the founder of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Glenn is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in NYS prisons. Prior to founding JLUSA, Glenn served for seven years as VP of Public Affairs at The Fortune Society, and six years as Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center. Glenn is co-founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow, a 2012 America’s Leaders of Change National Urban Fellow, and a member of the governing boards of the College and Community Fellowship, Million Hoodies, and the California Partnership for Safe Communities. Glenn also serves on Governor Cuomo’s Reentry and Reintegration Council, the advisory board of the Vera Institute’s Public Health and Mass Incarceration Initiative, the National Network for Safe Communities, the Executive Session on Community Corrections at Harvard University, and the Global Advisory Council (GAC) of Cornerstone Capital Group.

Glenn was named on the 2015 Root 100 list of most influential African Americans. In 2015, Glenn wrote an open letter to President Obama, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, after a visit as an invited guest to the White House when he was separated from his colleagues and given a special escort due to his criminal conviction. Glenn was later invited back to speak on a panel at the White House, getting the chance to meet with President Obama at an event focused on criminal justice reform. In 2016, Glenn was appointed to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal  Justice and Incarceration Reform; at the invitation of New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to look at the possibility of closing Rikers Island. Glenn regularly contributes his expertise to national news outlets such as MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Al Jazeera, and CSPAN.

This talk is free and open to all.

(1) Comment.  |   Tags: incarceration    inequality    Iscol Family Program    Iscol Lecture   

2015 Iscol Lecture, Thursday, April 19, 2018

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2015 Iscol Lecture

Workforce of the Future
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reshma Saujani
Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code

Tags: inequality,   Iscol Lecture,   STEM,   technology,   video,   youth,  

Workforce of the Future
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reshma Saujani
Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code

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Two in five African-American women know a prisoner


news-wildeman-inpostRecent research findings, co-authored by BCTR affiliate and fellow Christopher Wildeman (Policy Analysis & Management), show that on average African-American adults, and women in particular, are more likely to be acquainted with someone who is incarcerated  than whites. Forty-four percent of black women and 32 percent of black men have a family member, neighbor, or acquaintance in prison, compared to 12 percent of white women and 6 percent of white men.

In a Cornell Chronicle article, Wildeman notes,

Our estimates show even deeper racial inequalities in connectedness to prisoners than previous work might have implied. Because imprisonment has negative consequences not only for the men and women who cycle through the system but also for the parents, partners and progeny they leave behind, mass imprisonment’s long-term consequences of racial inequality in the United States might be even greater than any of us working in this area had originally suspected.

These results show further racial inequality wrought by the U.S. prison boom, with potentially harmful consequences to families and communities lacking social supports to raise children and manage households.

The study was led by University of Washington associate professor of sociology Hedwig Lee ’03 and co-authored by Wildeman and was published by Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race. The article, Racial Inequalities in Connectedness to Imprisoned Individuals in the United States, is co-authored by Tyler McCormick at the University of Washington and Margaret Hicken at the University of Michigan. The study was unfunded.

Wildeman is co-organizer (with Anna Haskins, Sociology, and Julie Poelhmann-Tynan, University of Wisconsin - Madison) of the 2016 Bronfebrenner Conference, which will examine mass incarceration's effects on children.

Study: 2 in 5 African-American women know a prisoner - Cornell Chronicle
Racial inequalities in connectedness to imprisoned individuals in the United States - Du Bois Review

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