iRISE was founded in 2014 to serve as a platform for advancing clinical and translational research at UTHSC, with promotion of health equity through research into health disparities as an integral theme. This nascent CTSI (Clinical and Translational Science Institute) grew out of a successful effort in the child health sphere and is acting as a new, over-arching program that interweaves the many existing strengths of UTHSC. Multi-level programs with vertical integration of training competencies have been developed in order to institute an inter-professional translational workforce that can participate in health disparities research and help achieve the goals of iRISE.
UTHSC is ideally situated to participate in the national conversation regarding changes in the conduct of translational science due to a long-term and ongoing investment in a culture that values innovation and the concepts underlying the “triple aim.” We intend to boost this commitment through development of novel programs and through increased connectivity to other CTSA hubs.
Poverty is a major issue in the mid-South. 16.0% of families and people in the region have an income below the federal poverty level ($15,142 for a two-person household) and 27.1% have an income below 150% of the federal poverty level. 15.6% of the population has no health insurance, while 32.4% has public coverage. Median family income of counties in the mid-South ranges from $23,270 in Tunica County MS to $58,851 in Desoto County MS. The percent of children below the federal poverty level ranges from 15.7% in Desoto County to 43.4% in Tunica County. In the city of Memphis, 46% of children below the age of 18 live in families with income below the federal poverty level. Many of the surrounding counties have a high prevalence of chronic disease and high mortality rates. While many of the overall health outcomes are near or below the national average, within counties, dramatic disparities often exist between whites and blacks. For instance, in 2009 the infant mortality rate for Shelby County was 5.0 per 1000 for whites, but 18.5 for blacks. While the challenges to achieving health equity are steep due to these factors, the trade-off is that the mid-South represents a rich population for research of the kind supported by CTSA Hubs, and UTHSC is poised to partner with others to address them.
Goals of iRISE:
- Leverage the current child health-based CTSI structure to expand and interweave clinical and translational research resources within the broader UTHSC in a novel institute for research and innovation.
- Integrate iRISE, the nascent UTHSC CTSI, with broader national programs and with local community efforts.
- Develop systems to train a broad-based workforce that understands the importance of promoting health equity and can participate in interdisciplinary clinical and translation research with engaged communities.