JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs

September 27, 2001
MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Stephenson
PHONE: 410-955-5384
E-MAIL: gstephenson@jhmi.edu

Hopkins Urban Health Institute Awards First Community Grants

The Amazing Grandmothers may sound like a senior citizens aerobics team, but this group of women from the Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in East Baltimore have much more serious undertakings in mind. They are raising their grandchildren. The parents of these kids are either absent from home or incapacitated by substance abuse.

The Amazing Grandmothers, and three similar programs designed to fight the epidemic substance-abuse problem in East Baltimore, are the first community-based participatory research projects funded by the new Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute.

The institute announced last week that a review board, made up of six community members and two Hopkins representatives, has awarded four grants totaling around $163,000. In all, the board received 12 applications for research grants. The four approved projects must go through one of the Johns Hopkins or Bayview Medical Center institutional review boards before funding can be released.

Proposals were required to focus on one of five areas addressing a substance-abuse need and to represent a partnership between Hopkins faculty and a community organization.

The Amazing Grandmothers Project — a partnership between the School of Nursing, faculty member Laurie Edwards, Tench Tilghman Elementary School and the Amazing Grace church — was awarded a grant of $34,184. The project will target 10 families where grandmothers are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren. To assist these substitute parents, faculty and staff from other community-service programs, such as the Julie Community Center, will provide visits to the homes, an eight-week family nurturing program, and a substance-abuse prevention program for the grandchildren.

The other three successful grant proposals were:

• A partnership between Department of Psychiatry faculty member Brian Poeschla, of the Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU), and the Mattie B. Uzzle Outreach Center for $31,076 that will study whether initial substance abuse screening and direct referral admissions from the community to the department's ITU will result in better outcomes.

• A project by Department of Psychiatry faculty member Annelle Primm, School of Public Health faculty member Rosa Crum and Zion Baptist Church for $48,523 that will examine the role of spirituality and religious practices in the treatment of patients with substance-abuse and severe mental illness.

• A project between Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing faculty member Marion D'Lugoff, the Wald Community Nursing Center and Heart, Body and Soul Inc. for $49,368 that will expand on the Linking Individuals to Need and Continuing Support (LINCS) project. Part of the primary care delivered at the Wald community clinics will now include substance abuse. Training in substance abuse screening also will be offered to part-time community health workers through the Heart, Body and Soul program.

Claude Earl Fox, M.D., institute director, says he hopes these initial grants will be a springboard for community programs and Hopkins research projects to receive funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an arm of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. "Community-based participatory research is a growing field and I think we're going to see more money available from funding agencies like NIH," Fox says.

In addition to offering a chance for partnership between community programs and Hopkins, Fox says the Institute's grants "help us understand better what the community wants in the way of substance abuse programs, and give us a way to provide local residents with the tools to fight this problem."

Tom O'Toole, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and the institute's associate director, will meet with grant applicants who didn't receive funding to assist them in revising their proposals. "We want to improve their chance to obtain funding for their projects either through Hopkins, NIH or any other funding opportunity," he says.

O'Toole is encouraged by the number of faculty from the campus's three schools who answered the call for grant proposals. He also believes that "once faculty from all the health professional schools develop more of a comfort level and expertise in this kind of research, we'll see more activity."

The Urban Health Institute, established and funded by Hopkins in 2000, is a multi-disciplinary institution for research, education and community outreach on issues related to urban health with jointly appointed faculty, a core staff, and connections to relevant community, government and health agencies. Its charter is to bring to bear the resources of Hopkins and its partners to improve the health status of East Baltimore residents.


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