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University of Louisville

Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement Core

Project Leader: Lauren Heberle
Co-Investigator: Russell A. Barnett
Grant Number: P42ES023716
Funding Period: 2017-2022

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Project Summary (2017-2022)

Residents of Kentucky suffer disproportionately from many chronic diseases and exposure to toxics in their environment. Dangerously high rates of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer in Kentucky have been well documented. The areas of focus for the University of Louisville Superfund Research Program (UL SRP) Center Community Engagement Core (CEC) are West Louisville, encompassing six zip codes within the larger Metro area. In West Louisville neighborhoods, 61.1% of residents are black/African Americans and 55% of children under age 18 live in poverty. Preliminary assessments suggest that residents living near the Lee’s Lane landfill in West Louisville, a heavily industrialized residential area, and Oakdale, a neighborhood near Churchill Downs, have high in volatile organic compound (VOC) exposures.

The Louisville medical community has a long history of bi-directional interactions with active community involvement in health care delivery and research. The overarching goal of the CEC is to support community and academic scientists/educators in transdisciplinary research that incorporates best practices in community engagement by facilitating beneficial and bidirectional interactions between residents, industry, policy makers, and the UL SRP’s interdisciplinary investigators.

The CEC aims to:

  1. Augment community and investigator capacity for transdisciplinary research focused on exposure to contaminants through facilitating Community Environmental Quality Resource Exchange Sessions and establishing a Sustainable, Institutionalized Collaborative Framework through the Louisville Superfund Center Community Advisory Board.
  2. Support and facilitate project- and core-specific community engagement activities.
  3. Assess change in perception and knowledge of community participants and investigators as a result of engaging in specific UL SRP Center activities.

Through regular public forums and board meetings, support of specific UL SRP Center research projects, and training, community engaged intervention, assessment of community and investigator perceptions and knowledge, and substantive interactions with other Cores particularly the Research Translation Core, the CEC provides content and structural support necessary for ongoing community engaged research aimed at evaluating the health effects of pollutant exposure and reducing exposures to and negative impacts of toxic emissions of volatile organic compounds.

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