Rutgers-led collaborative awarded $3.6M NIH grant to build infrastructure for minority aging research


NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (Oct. 8, 2019) –– A new collaborative led by the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research (IFH) has received a $3.6 million, three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to increase participation of New Jersey minority older adults in research.

“New Jersey ranks among the top states in the country for overall health, but it is also among the worst in health equity. For the state’s 1.3 million older adults, there are equally large disparities, especially among those who are black, Hispanic or Asian, and who too often are not being sustainably engaged in research,” said IFH Director Dr. XinQi Dong, M.D., M.P.H., the lead researcher.

The New Jersey Minority Aging Collaborative (NJMAC) will bring together researchers and community leaders to help support the recruitment and retention of minority older adults in studies, particularly those interested in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, mental health, multi-comorbidities, health policy and interactions with health care providers.

Community partner organizations include Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey’s three campuses, as well as Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, the Asian Resource Center for Minority Aging ResearchRutgers New Jersey Cooperative ExtensionRutgers/RWJBarnabas Health, the Center for Asian Health at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, the Trenton Health Team (THT) and New Brunswick Tomorrow.

Community leaders will guarantee studies reflect real-life challenges and genuine feedback from aging adults, providing researchers with more relevant information to study.

“Trenton Health Team is proud to partner with RU to make sure the voices and experience of our community members are reflected in this NIH project,” said THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson. “To create innovative solutions, research must be rooted in the community.”

Currently, NJMAC is focused on Newark, New Brunswick and Trenton, but it has plans to expand to other New Jersey areas. It will use a “collective impact” design, leveraging the established trust and relationships between the community organizations and aging adults, and the existing framework of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, with its research stations and offices throughout the state.

The award will enable the collaborative to build the necessary infrastructure and begin identifying and documenting information such as community needs, barriers, key stakeholders and existing projects.

The information will be used to evaluate NJMAC’s platforms and processes, and will be reciprocal, providing knowledge back to the community and enabling opportunities for future partnerships.

Because New Jersey closely aligns with the overall demographics of the United States, based on age, gender, educational attainment, and race and ethnicity, researchers hope the collaborative will generate a rich research resource that can be extrapolated to other states and organizations, as well.

Ultimately, the collaborative will set a sound infrastructure to improve health equity in New Jersey and fill the gap in minority aging research, Dong added.

“This award represents a substantial investment in the New Jersey diverse communities for reciprocal transfer of expertise and sustainable engagement of community and older adults in the research process,” Dong said.

The collaborative project is supported by a resource grant from the NIH/National Institute on Aging under award number 1R24AG063729-01.