Affinity Groups

To build on recent success and encourage further cross-campus work, the Steering Committee for the University-Wide Initiative to Reduce Health Disparities is promoting a framework for engaging faculty within self-identified areas of interest, with the aim of generating concrete outcomes, especially external funding proposals.

This framework includes Research Affinity Groups and Idea Labs


Research Affinity Groups bring together researchers interested in common areas of research in health disparities. They are venues for faculty to explore their mutual research interests from multiple disciplinary perspectives, and from there, pursue collaborative products. The faculty in each individual groups provide the direction and organization for the groups work and its intended outcomes.

The groups are a starting point for faculty to identify new collaborators, learn about research projects on campus, and jump-start new activities. The groups anticipate outcomes such as: new collaborations for publications; internal sharing of relationships, data, or equipment, new or next-stage research efforts, sharing of best practices for research teaching. 

Faculty have organized around the following areas: 

  • Access to healthcare, including the implications of economic status and age
  • Disability
  • Ethnicity, linguistics, and culture
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Mental Health
  • Rural Health
  • Urban Health

Faculty may be involved in more than one group, if desired.

Mental Health Affinity Group Update: The Mental Health Research Affinity Group hosted its first meeting for interested faculty in June 2014. The group discussed strategies for enhancing collaboration and identifying new avenues of work. Planned activities include: engagement with D.C. leadesrhip to learn about the District's health priorities, an internal social network analysis of faculty working in the mental health field, and a brown bag meeting series for focused research presentations. The brown bag meeting series will launch in fall 2014, beginning with a presentation on stress, trauma, and mental health. If you would like to join this affinity group, please send your name to or 


Idea Labs denote those research groups which are focused on a developing a specific research topic with strong potential to bring in external funding. An Idea Lab may be a sub-set of a single Research Affinity Group, or pull collaborators from multiple Research Affinity Groups. 

For purposes of this collaboration framework, Idea Labs must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Representation from more than one disciplinary perspective;
  • A track record in the research area, including funded research and/or publications;
  • Demonstrated mentorship between senior and more junior faculty members;
  • Identified potential funding organizations;
  • Dedicated time from PI(s) and their staff for proposal writing, when a specific funding opportunity is identified.

Please contact the Initiative at with progress towards Idea Labs or for more information.