A research collaboration focused on chronic disease in the Eastern Caribbean.

Project Background and Description

The Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN) is a collaborative research infrastructure that presents a unique opportunity to identify and address risk and protective factors for chronic diseases in a diverse population over time. The flagship project, the ECHORN cohort study, examines the lifestyles, eating habits, and health behaviors associated with cancer, diabetes, and heart disease in adult men and women living in the Eastern Caribbean. ECHORN is funded by the National Institute for Minority Health Disparities (NIMHD).

The ECHORN stakeholder network includes site teams in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, New York, and New Jersey; a coordinating center at Yale University; and a coalition of health, policy, and community organizations with interest and experience in addressing long-standing health disparities among African descent and Hispanic populations. When they join our consortium, stakeholders choose to work on an area that is most meaningful for them, be it developing best practices for sharing data, developing learning opportunities, fostering networking among members, or implementing research projects.

CCPH’s Role

CCPH is supporting ECHORN by facilitating a Community of Practice with stakeholders. The Community of Practice promotes authentic collaboration, partnership, engagement, and shared leadership among the individuals and groups who are part of the ECHORN and Yale-TCC communities. The Community of Practice is comprised of researchers, community leaders, and other stakeholders who are working to engage ECHORN’s stakeholders in discussions around community engagement and leadership opportunities through their work with ECHORN and related projects.

Impact

The Community of Practice has provided the ECHORN network with a model for defining, and understanding, stakeholder engagement. This framework has fostered important discussions among our leadership and our consortium members, as we consider what it means for someone to be engaged with us, as well as what that engagement can and should lead to for each person, their projects, and their communities. We are currently developing more concrete ways that our members can participate within ECHORN, at the level of involvement that feels most comfortable and productive for them. We also host educational webinars, share resources, and provide opportunities for our members to build their professional networks.

CCPH has also been involved in our pilot project program, which provides funding for pilot studies that translate precision medicine into real-world practice. Currently we have two projects underway: one examining blood pressure differences in hypertension among patients with different hormone systems, and another looking at genetic differences in patients with diabetes that may affect responses to commonly prescribed medications. CCPH has discussed ways that community engagement can be incorporated into these efforts.

CCPH continues to challenge us to deepen our relationships with stakeholders, as we work on the larger goal of increasing research capacity in the Caribbean.

Connect to the Work

To learn more about ECHORN, visit our website at www.echorn.org or follow us on social media @echornproject. For more information about the consortium, including membership opportunities, please contact yaletcc@yale.edu

ECHORN Leadership:

Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS
Principal Investigator, ECHORN; Chair, Steering Committee, ECHORN; Associate Professor, Yale University, Schools of Medicine and Public Health

Josefa L. Martinez, PhD, MHS
Director, ECHORN Coordinating Center (ECC); Associate Research Scientist, Yale University, School of Medicine

Saria Hassan, MD
Deputy Director, Yale-TCC; Instructor, Yale University, School of Medicine