The Detroit metropolitan area is characterized by many community strengths, yet the city of Detroit in particular experiences health inequities on a broad scale, especially in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mental health. Many Detroiters grapple with the region's legacy of racism and the barriers that accompany this legacy across a range of life experiences that, directly and indirectly, increase residents' vulnerability to poor physical and mental health outcomes. Wayne State University (WSU) supports multidisciplinary faculty whose research addresses these inequities, but no infrastructure exists to facilitate collaboration between these researchers or partnerships between researchers and community stakeholders and assets.
The Center for Health Equity and Community Knowledge in Urban Populations (CHECK-UP) is working to build this infrastructure by working across metropolitan Detroit communities and WSU's schools, colleges, centers, and departments to identify, investigate, and act upon the barriers and bridges to health equity in the region. CHECK-UP is driven by the imperative that WSU prioritize and promote shared leadership with community stakeholders in medical and behavioral research, an approach referred to as community-based participatory research (CBPR). In fact, many WSU faculty already apply a community-engaged approach to their work. Methodologies that build engagement and participation will be central to CHECK-UP because of their promise in reducing health disparities, increasing the public relevance of WSU research, and increasing the diffusion of scientific discoveries throughout community at large.