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A university-wide initiative bridging Cornell's New York City and Ithaca campuses


Despite substantial investment in research and strong public commitment, little progress has been made to date to improve health equity in the United States and to help people attain full health potential. Significant racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare persist, including disadvantages in access to basic treatment, and impact a broad range of health issues, from differences in length and quality of life to rates and severity of disease and disability. Furthermore, there is a pressing need for research to better understand the “why” underlying health equity disadvantages. How do social position and other socially determined factors contribute to persistent health inequities?

The Cornell Center for Health Equity responds directly to the growing need to better understand both the root causes and the manifestations (symptoms) of persistent health inequity. With a robust research agenda and through academic-community partnerships, the Center advances the science of health equity and shares knowledge in order to make quantifiable progress and to reduce persistent health disadvantages at the local, regional and national levels.

The Cornell Center for Health Equity responds directly to community priorities by focusing on two themes: 1) multiple vulnerabilities to health disparities and 2) stigmatized conditions. It brings together research experts at Cornell’s New York City and Ithaca campuses to collaborate on how to achieve health equity. The Center engages members of the public in every step of the research process, from conceptualization through dissemination and implementation. This Center accelerates Cornell’s commitment to serve as a positive force to achieve health equity with partnering communities in rural and urban settings, while building capacity for health equity research, especially among underrepresented minority scientists, and generating new evidence for a broad national audience.

The Center pursues an integrated study of health disparities with teams based at two campuses:

  • Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City provides a diverse urban, multicultural perspective with a focus on the interplay of numerous health disparities. Co-director Monika Safford, MD, who is based in Manhattan, is a lifelong disparities researcher with an active NIH and PCORI-funded research program in cardio-metabolic health disparities.
  • Cornell University is a world-class research institution known for the breadth and rigor of its curricula, and an academic culture dedicated to preparing students to be well-educated and well-rounded citizens of the world. Its faculty, staff and students believe in the critical importance of knowledge—both theoretical and applied—as a means of improving the human condition and solving the world’s problems. Co-director Avery August, PhD, based at Cornell’s Ithaca campus, is an immunologist who has been recognized for his work on the development of immune memory, and for strategies that may be used to treat asthma. He serves as Cornell’s Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, where he leads faculty recruitment and acts as a critical role model for early-career scientists.

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The vision of the Cornell Center for Health Equity is to nurture durable academic-community partnerships to inform our research agenda, integrate community perspectives into our research, and develop an infrastructure to disseminate and implement the results of our work with the overarching goal of achieving health equity locally, regionally, and nationally.

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