The Disparities Research Unit (DRU), part of the Department of Medicine’s Mongan Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, is dedicated to undertaking innovative, collaborative research projects that focus on understanding and improving health services, and eliminating health and health care disparities for diverse racial and ethnic and/or immigrant populations. Established at Mass General in 2015, the DRU employs state of the art research methods and innovative statistical approaches to answer pressing questions that affect access to and quality of care as well as outcomes. Utilizing collaborative approaches with researchers, clinicians and community groups, the DRU supports an array of research activities as well as nurtures a core of junior researchers. Our dynamic team of multidisciplinary researchers includes clinicians, policy analysts, health economists and statisticians. We address questions regarding health service delivery, health policy and public health for multicultural populations using epidemiology, systems and organizational theory, economics and financing, and qualitative and quantitative methods.
We currently operate 3 major federally funded grants at the DRU, spanning epidemiological research and intervention development and testing. We run a NIA/NIMH supported grant on building community capacity for disability prevention for minority elders that brings together academic and community partners to test an intervention to reduce mental and physical disability. Our NIMHD study addressing mechanisms underlying racial/ethnic disparities focuses on exploring the mechanisms that underlie racial/ethnic differences in mental disorder onset and persistence. Our NIDA-funded project evaluates the effects of NY state Medicaid programs on access, patterns of care, and outcomes of substance use disorder treatment. We also have a project funded by the William T. Grant Foundation in which we use Photovoice methodology to understand and incorporate youth perspectives in the development of community interventions aimed at improving adolescent behavioral health. Additionally, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Connections program and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, we run dynamic mentorship programs to develop the skills and productivity of minority junior scholars through matching with mentors and tailored activities to increase productivity of manuscripts and grant proposals.
It is my personal mission as Chief of the Disparities Research Unit to continue to develop cutting edge research that positively impacts clinical care, policy and practice and improves the health care and wellbeing of diverse populations.
Margarita Alegría, PhD
Chief, Disparities Research Unit