Banner Month: Heller receives $11M in grant funding for disparities-related research in September 2021

December 16, 2021

In September 2021, three Heller research institutes were awarded multimillion-dollar grants that, taken together, totaled nearly $11 million in new funding — a record for the school in such a brief time frame. All five grants will fund research projects that focus on identifying disparities and resolving social policy inequities, core themes that align with the Heller School’s mission and its motto of “knowledge advancing social justice.”  

Institute for Behavioral Health receives $2.9 million National Institutes of Health grant to study disparities in alcohol treatment

Senior scientist Maureen Stewart, PhD’09, will lead a team of colleagues from the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy and Research under a five-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health. The study will examine access and quality of alcohol use disorder treatment for people enrolled in Medicaid managed-care plans, with a specific focus on disparities by race and ethnicity, gender and geography.

Nearly 70% of the more than 80 million people enrolled in Medicaid are in managed-care plans, which have control over policies that could impact access and quality of treatment for alcohol use disorder. The team hopes to produce valuable, actionable findings for Medicaid plan administrators, state Medicaid directors and policymakers who seek to improve access to alcohol treatment in the U.S.

Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy granted $2 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to build next generation of the Child Opportunity Index

With this award from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Professor Dolores Acevedo -Garcia and her team will build the next generation of the Child Opportunity Index (COI). The COI is a key component of, a comprehensive research program and indicator database on child well-being and opportunity that focuses on racial/ethnic equity across multiple sectors and geographies in the U.S.

Acevedo-Garcia and her team have mapped the geography of opportunity in the U.S. for over a decade, including launching the pioneering COI in 2014. This new grant will enable the team to update the COI and build the infrastructure needed for annual or biannual updates. Regular updates ensures that the COI will continue to serve as the best estimate of current neighborhood opportunities for children across the U.S.

Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, led by Monika Mitra, receives three federal grants totaling $6 million to expand new and existing research

$1.5 million from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research for the new Center for Disability and Pregnancy Research

The Center for Disability and Pregnancy Research will identify gaps in knowledge about pregnancy and disability utilizing existing and new data sources in order to more fully examine perinatal care, complications and outcomes — particularly involving disabled people of color. It will also develop and test evidence-based interventions and supports to enhance the experience of pregnancy in people with disabilities. The Heller team plans to promote optimal pregnancy-related outcomes for all pregnant people with disabilities through the active communication of findings, along with offering targeted training to the disability community and health care providers.

$2.5 million from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research for the Research Center for Parents With Disabilities 

This five-year award extends existing support for the Research Center for Parents With Disabilities, which conducts research and provides training and technical assistance to improve the lives of parents with disabilities and their families, particularly disabled parents of color. The project’s primary aim is to ensure that the diverse community of parents with disabilities can use and benefit from this research. The center will ensure that disabled parents of color are included in the generation and evaluation of knowledge, products and support under the direction of a national advisory board of racially and ethnically diverse parents with a range of disabilities.

$2 million from the National Institutes of Health to examine disparities in pregnancy care and outcomes among Black and Latina women with physical disabilities

Black and Latina women with physical disabilities are at increased risk of adverse pregnancy experiences and outcomes due to disparities in care based on disability status and race/ethnicity. Despite this systemic deficiency, no known studies have investigated the intersection of disability and race/ethnicity in perinatal care. Lurie researchers aim to provide an assessment of these women’s pregnancy risks and outcomes in order to improve their pregnancy and postpartum care and experiences. The overarching goal of the project is to gain systematic understanding of pregnancy and infant health outcomes and pregnancy care costs for Black women and Latinas with physical disabilities, and thereby establish a foundation for the development and testing of future interventions that will result in better outcomes.