CTSC Health Disparities Un-Meeting

Numerous studies prove that repetition or exposure to new concepts and ideas multiple times increases the likelihood of being able to recall and apply new information.

Sparking Conversation to Enhance Health Equity Research

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health disparities are preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations. Racial and ethnic health disparities related to COVID-19 put many Black and Brown communities in an undesirable spotlight–unwilling recipients of disproportionate harm from the virus. Due to social drivers of health, including socioeconomic status, people who have been marginalized were found to be at greater risk for hospitalization. Research can assist in eliminating health disparities by: 1) informing disease prevention, health promotion, and care delivery efforts for specific subpopulations; and 2) translating effective tailored interventions in partnership with communities and other stakeholders for health prevention and treatment in subpopulations. This un-meeting will bring together researchers, clinicians, policymakers, public health professionals, healthcare innovators, influencers, and other interested groups to discuss and develop innovative and effective ideas to support and further develop health disparities research through clinical and translational science and beyond.

Four (4) hours of Continuing Research Education Credit (CREC) are being pursued for this event. 







Morning 4x4 Presentations (Framing the Issues) 


Morning Breakout Sessions


Report Out


Engaged Break


Afternoon 4x4 Presentations (Framing the Issues) 


Afternoon Breakout Sessions


Report Out


Breakout Summaries


Closing Remarks

4x4 Presentations


The Role of Community Health Centers in Addressing Health Disparities 

Domonic Hopson, MPH, President and CEO, Neighborhood Family Practice (Cleveland) leverages lived experience influences his empathetic leadership approach with a non-profit, patient-governed organization that provides health care to America’s medically underserved communities. In 2021, 1,400 community health centers provided care at more than 14,000 locations to over 30 million patients. 

How Community Health Organizations Provide Scaffolding for Those Left Behind in Healthcare Institutions 

Yvonka Hall, MPA, Executive Director, Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, is a nationally recognized health disparities expert whose organization has provided over 60,000 masks to residents and 200,000 meals to disabled families to date throughout the pandemic. In addition to heralding numerous vaccination clinics, NEOBHC operates COVID-19 support groups where members can learn from experts about their symptoms. 

Community Development Corporations Define Their Role in Public Health

Sherita Mullins, Director of Supportive Services, Burten, Bell, Carr, Development, Inc. ensures that residents in the Buckeye neighborhood have access to services touching all social determinants of health. This community development corporation services a predominantly Black population in the Central, Kinsman, and Buckeye neighborhoods and small portions of Fairfax and Union-Miles–areas that have experienced decades of disinvestment due to structural racism.


Data Science and Systems: Ensuring Better Representation of Minorities and Social Determinants of Health in Large Datasets 

Deborah Duran, PhD, Senior Advisor, NIH/NIMHD advises the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities on the state of data science, data analytics, and data systems field and supports coordination of NIMHD efforts to obtain better representation of minorities in large datasets and addressing biases in emerging technologies. She has been a key contributor, throughout the pandemic, on increased emphasis on data science and common data elements. 

Health Equity Research, Implementation, and Evaluation: In Pursuit of Health Justice

Philip Alberti, PhD, Founding Director, AAMC Center for Health Justice; Senior Director, Health Equity Research and Policy, is a nationally recognized thought leader about the roots of health inequities and structural solutions required to ensure that all communities thrive. He sparks, supports, and contributes to community-driven, multi-sector efforts that build the evidence based for programs, policies, practices, and partnerships that eliminate health inequities. 

Physician Activism in the Age of Health Equity 

Kavita Shah Arora, MD, Division Director, Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Professor, The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill is a physician activist whose clinical, research, and education interests center around reproductive justice and ensuring evidence-based and equitable reproductive health policy. She also focuses on disparities in surgery for permanent contraception. 

Speakers (in order of appearance)

Dr. Grace McComsey stands in front of a window

Grace McComsey, MD, FIDSA

Vice President of Research and Associate Chief Scientific Officer, University Hospitals, Director, UH Clinical Research Center; Principal Investigator, Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University 

“At the start of this new chapter in our CTSC, we embraced what we don’t know. For a long time, we established that research is not inclusive or diverse, and, as such, has not widely benefited the community we serve—we still lack a clear understanding of how to fix these shortcomings.”

Grace A. McComsey, MD, FIDSA is Principal Investigator of the CWRU Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland. A professor of pediatrics and medicine at CWRU, Dr. McComsey also serves as the Vice President of Research, Associate Chief Scientific Officer and Research Integrity Officer for University Hospitals, and directs the UH Clinical Research Center with a staff of more than 250 research professionals. Internationally recognized for her research in HIV, she has been a clinical and translational scientist at CWRU for the past 24 years. She has authored over 300 peer-reviewed publications in the area of metabolic and cardiovascular complications and treatment of HIV infection, has served as PI on more than 15 NIH grants, and led several multicenter studies thru the NIH funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group.

Given her expertise in infectious diseases, Dr. McComsey was easily able to transition to SARS-CoV2 and COVID research at the beginning of the pandemic. Most recently, through a highly competitive grant process, her proposal to have Cleveland selected to be one of 15 NIH RECOVER PASC Adult Cohort sites was recently awarded and is recruiting and studying long COVID patients from UH, MetroHealth, and the VA Medical Center, a testament to her ability to collaborate with multiple health systems in Cleveland and nationwide.

Dr. McComsey has received several awards as the result of her research, including a national Research Award from the HIV Medical Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America recognizing her work in HIV metabolic complications, the YWCA Women of Professional Excellence Award, and Crain’s Women of Note in recognition of her organized and innovative response to the COVID pandemic in Northeast Ohio.

Shari Bolen

Shari Bolen, MD, MPH

Associate Professor, Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Co-Leader, Population Health Sciences, Center for Health Care Research and Policy

“My personal mission is to conduct actionable community and stakeholder engaged research, education and advocacy to ensure we have thriving healthy equitable communities in the region and nationally.”

Dr. Bolen is the Alfred F. Connor Sr. Health Services and Population Health Research Professor, Professor of Medicine and Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Founding Director of the Population Health Research Institute at The MetroHealth System, and a general internal medicine physician. Dr. Bolen serves as the Director of Cardiovascular Disease Programs for Better Health Partnership – a regional health improvement collaborative, and co-leads the Ohio Cardiovascular and Diabetes Health Collaborative (Cardi-OH) funded by the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.  Nationally, she just finished serving on the Department of Health and Human Services National Clinical Care Commission charged with developing recommendations to congress on addressing gaps in federal programs and policies for persons living with diabetes, and serves on the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention National Hypertension Control Roundtable. Her career has focused on implementation of evidence-based strategies and innovative programs within primary care clinics to improve cardiovascular health outcomes and reduce disparities in these outcomes with a specific interest in diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Her primary goal is to improve the care of the patients and communities she serves.

Domnic Hopson

Domonic Hopson, MPH, FACHE

President and CEO, Neighborhood Family Practice (Cleveland)

“My childhood informed my understanding of how people navigate through poverty. It instilled in me an empathy for what people endure just to get by.”

Mr. Domonic Hopson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Neighborhood Family Practice (NFP). NFP serves more than 22,000 patients across eight sites in Cleveland and Lakewood, OH. NFP provides primary and preventive care and integrated services, including behavioral health, pharmacy, midwifery and dental.

Before joining NFP, Domonic was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the City of Cincinnati Primary Care (CCPC) and the Assistant Health Commissioner for the City of Cincinnati. In his CEO capacity, he led an organization that saw over 40,000 patients annually across 21 sites of care, including school-based health centers and community health centers. In his Assistant Health Commissioner capacity, he led the Cincinnati Health Department’s Clinical and Population Health Division, including home health and school nursing services, which consisted of 65 registered nurses supporting Cincinnati Public Schools. Domonic oversaw the Cincinnati Health Department’s COVID-19 response from April 2020 – May 2021.  

He previously held regional and operational management positions within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at VA medical centers in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi. Hopson received his Master of Public Health and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Domonic was most recently recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business magazine on the 40 Under Forty and New Faces in New Places lists.

Yvonka Hall

Yvonka Hall, MPA

Executive Director, Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition

“I think that when you look at inequities and how the African American community is disproportionately impacted here, we have to look at the cause of the inequities and the key culprit is racism.”

Yvonka M. Hall, MPA is the Executive Director of the nationally recognized Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition. She received a Master of Public Administration from Texas Southern University and a Bachelor of Arts from Notre Dame College. She is a proud graduate of John Marshall High School in Cleveland, Ohio and a 2019 inductee into the Alumni Hall of Fame. The Cleveland Plain Dealer named her the HomeGrown Hero for her work addressing food insecurity.

The 1974 murder of her mother Yvonne Boston Hall dramatically changed her life; her childhood promise to use her life to help others has lead to the creation of cutting edge programs and impacted thousands of people’s lives. She was recently named as 100 Women to Know in America. She recently Executive Produced a documentary about COVID in the African American community titled "Black COVID - The RONA".

She is a mother, grandmother and activist deeply impassioned and involved in social justice activities locally and nationally. Her efforts will save many children from the lifelong impact of lead poisoning. Her work is designed to address equity issues in the community and highlight the need for policy in calls to declare racism a public health crisis. She was honored as a Black Green Woman in 2021. She was recently appointed to serve on the National Environmental Protection Agency National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (NEJAC).

She is a board member serving on numerous local and national organization's. She is a nationally recognized Congressional award winning health disparities expert. She speaks all over the country about effectively engaging the African American Community the Art of Community Engagement. 

She is an activist, leader, influencer, humanitarian, speaker, researcher and philanthropist.

Sherita Mullins

Sherita Mullins

Director of Supportive Services, Burten, Bell, Carr, Development, Inc. 





Sherita Mullins is the Director of Supportive Services for Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc., a nonprofit Community Development Corporation, located on the Eastside of Cleveland, Ohio.  She designs, manages and directs supportive services ranging from youth development, home repair assistance, health and wellness and public art.  She also manages grant writing and the coordination of community engagement activities. Prior to BBC, She assisted with research and evaluation of community investments for Living Cities: National Community Development Initiative, a New York City-based nonprofit organization that invests in community development. She holds her Master of Science degree in Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Urban Policy from The New School in New York City and a dual Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Studies and Psychology from The University of Michigan.  One fun fact about Sherita is that she loves animals and has a Rottweiler named Suki Skye.

Jennifer King

Jennifer King, PhD

Assistant Professor, Co-Director, Center on Trauma and Adversity at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University

“Now, more than ever, we need all the tools available to us to care for our mental health—and we need to do so in ways that don’t require tons of time and resources.” [in reference to 28-card “Take a Break” micropractice deck]

Dr. Jenny King is an Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Center on Trauma and Adversity in the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She has more than 15 years of clinical practice experience working directly with traumatized individuals, families, and communities with the goal of addressing the impact of trauma across systems. Dr. King works to prepare future social workers to engage in clinical practice that is rooted in the neurobiology of trauma and healing. Dr. King provides leadership over the trauma-informed curriculum at the Mandel School. A highly sought-after speaker, she draws from her practice experience to bridge the gap between the academy, research, and the general public, sharing complex information in accessible ways.

Deborah Duran

Deborah Duran, PhD

Senior Advisor, NIH/NIMHD






Dr. Duran is the Senior Advisor on Data Science, Analytics and Systems to the Director of the National Institutes of Minority and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health. She focuses on implicit and explicit biases in data curation, AI designs, algorithm development, and the impacts on communities. AI and ethics focus her efforts, and she strives to increase underrepresented populations capacity to utilize big data, the cloud and data science resources.

She has developed the ScHARe (Science Collaborative for Health disparities and Artificial intelligence bias Reduction) Research Collaboration Cloud Platform Cloud Platform focusing on social science data, including social determinants of health, to better understand health disparities and health inequities. ScHARe also provides confidential and private workspaces to conduct research using the cloud. The ScHARe program hosts a collaboration stage to address AI biases and develop better tools, and to conduct health disparities with a team of experts. In addition, monthly Think-a-Thons enables cloud instructions for novice users and launches collaborative research on health disparities.

She also focuses on the inclusion of social determinant of health (SDOH) to include in data analytics to better apply diagnostics, treatments, and interventions to reduce health disparities. Focus is on the standardized measurement and metrics of SDoH.

Prior to this role, she has been the director of science policy, scientific planning and data analytics for over 20 years. She is an author and received three HHS Secretarial Awards and numerous NIH awards exemplifying her leadership skills and ability to advance science. Prior to government, she was a principal investigator, researcher for the National Coalition of Hispanic Health, an advocate for healthy equity, a professor, and a high school teacher.

Philip Alberti

Philip Alberti, PhD

Founding Director, AAMC Center for Health Justice; Senior Director, Health Equity Research and Policy

“Listening to local voices is crucial because those closest to injustice are those best able to identify solutions to that injustice.”

A population health scientist whose singular professional commitment to health equity research and action spans over 20 years, Philip M. Alberti, Ph.D. is a nationally recognized thought leader about the diverse roots of health inequities and the structural solutions required to ensure all communities thrive. He has published dozens of reports, essays, and peer-reviewed articles, is a sought-after public speaker, and has served on numerous advisory boards and expert panels for diverse organizations and federal agencies.

Currently, as the Association of American Medical College’s (AAMC) Senior Director, Health Equity Research and Policy and the Founding Director of the AAMC Center for Health Justice, Dr. Alberti sparks, supports, and contributes to community-driven, multi-sector efforts that build the evidence base for programs, policies, practices, and partnerships that eliminate health inequities.

Prior to joining AAMC in 2012, Dr. Alberti led research, evaluation, and planning efforts for a Bureau within the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that worked to promote health equity between NYC neighborhoods. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and was a Fellow in the National Institute of Mental Health Psychiatric Epidemiology Training program.

Kavita Shah Arora

Kavita Shah Arora, MD, MBE, MS

Division Director, Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Professor, The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

“Just as bench-to-bedside researchers partake in translational research, I lead through translational advocacy. My passion is to apply evidence-based medicine and research to health care policy to improve health and reduce disparities.”

Dr. Kavita Shah Arora is a tenured Associate Professor and the Division Director for General Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Dr. Arora received her BS with a minor in Philosophy from the Pennsylvania State University. In 2009, she graduated with both an MD from Jefferson Medical College and a Master's Degree in Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University. She subsequently completed a Master's in Science of Clinical Research at Case Western Reserve University. She currently serves as the Greenwall Fellow in Bioethics for the National Academy of Medicine and is Chair of the national ethics committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She has served on the national ethics committee of the American Medical Association, on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Bioethics and the Humanities, and on the Governing Council for the Young Physicians Section of the American Medical Association. Her clinical, research, and education interests center around reproductive justice and ensuring evidence-based and equitable reproductive health policy, with a focus on disparities in surgery for permanent contraception.