Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Translating Basic Research into Community Practice: The Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA)

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Translating Basic Research into Community Practice: The Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA)

Article excerpt

Abstract

The mission of Cornell University's Edward R. Roybal Center, the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA) is to develop new ways to translate the findings of basic social science research into programs and policies that benefit vulnerable older persons and contribute to improved health outcomes. The overarching goal is the creation of a "research-ready" group of service agencies serving older people in New York City that can be linked to medical and behavioral investigators who seek engagement with service agencies for applied and intervention studies. The CITRA "model" consists of seven overlapping steps: (1) creation of a research-ready network of service agencies; (2) a community-based needs assessment to establish a research agenda for the program; (3) development of a pool of investigators who are available and willing to collaborate with service agencies; (4) development of a model pilot study program to connect investigators to community agencies; (5) investigator development; (6) seminars, events, and research-practice consensus workshops to facilitate researcher-community partner interaction; and (7) engaging researchers and practitioners on critical issues related to aging to invigorate and sustain the partnership.

Introduction

This paper describes a community-based research partnership established in 2003, the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA). The partnership was seeded by an Edward R. Roybal Center grant from the National Institute on Aging (1 P30 AG022845). CITRA is a consortium of Cornell University-based researchers, practitioners, and community organizations working together to design and implement applied research to improve the lives of older persons in New York City. CITRA includes researchers from both campuses of Cornell University, the main Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medical College located in New York City and Westchester, NY. The centerpiece of the partnership is a pilot study program for engaging university researchers and senior community agencies in collaborative research.

CITRA's major mission has been to build a community-agency network that is "research ready." CITRA is composed of two entities: (1) a consortium of Cornell University researchers and research mentees; and (2) a network of community agencies serving older adults in New York City. CITRA's primary community collaborator is the New York City Council of Senior Centers and Services (CSCS). The CSCS is a citywide organization that coordinates the activities of over 265 senior centers and other member agencies throughout the five boroughs of New York. The centers and agencies of the CSCS span virtually all New York neighborhoods, serving over 300,000 older adults. Through its partnership with the CSCS, CITRA has developed and supported opportunities for university researchers to work as equal partners with senior centers and social service agencies to address solve problems that affect the health and well-being of older people.

Over 250 senior centers and other agencies were surveyed in the first year of the project and expressed their willingness to collaborate on research projects. Individual contacts have been made at many of these agencies. A Community Advisory Committee consisting of 30 agency directors and community leaders promotes and facilitates the creation of agency-researcher partnerships for specific projects.

Discussion

Development of CITRA

The long-term aim of CITRA is to enhance the capacity of Cornell University to conduct community-based, translational research on the problems affecting older people. Developing a community-based research approach to the issues of older people is a priority recognized by major funding organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (1) In its first two years, CITRA emphasized needs assessment and the development of an infrastructure for a community-based research partnership with service agencies serving older people in New York City. …

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