CCHERS is a bridge!

Located at the heart of a medical mecca, CCHERS has been a witness of a paradox where the benefits of research and innovations happening here do not always trickle down to the people who are most in need, especially those from the communities of color. This situation happens as minority populations have been under-represented in research, a long-standing issue deeply rooted in institutional racism, leaving their voices unheard, health needs unaddressed, and potential untapped. Empowering Boston’s underserved populations has been CCHERS’ unwavering commitment since it was established in 1991. Engaging the minority populations in research is one of the pillars that supports CCHERS’ vision of a healthcare system based on health equity and racial justice. Long before any name was given to this effort, CCHERS has served as a bridge to the most vulnerable populations in Boston, building trust that once eroded between people of color and the research establishment, facilitating community engagement in research, and helping communities utilize research findings to advocate for policy change.


The creation of Boston BRI…DGE in January 2016, funded by The Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI), formalized CCHERS’ previous community engaged research effort and added a new direction to it. The overarching goal, as reflected by the acronym, is to build research infrastructure to support development of genuine community engagement.


The first phase of Boston BRI…DGE, from 2016 to 2018, focused on introducing patient-centered outcome research, building research readiness of patients and community members, exploring best practices for community engagement, and developing a community-derived research agenda. Guided by a Stakeholder Engagement Advisory Board (SEAB) consisting of community activists, patients, caregivers, health providers, and researchers, the first Boston BRI…DGE successfully convened a number of important events covering topics of real interests of patients and communities of color:

  • December 2015 - The 1st Annual Boston BRI…DGE Conference

  • January 2016 - A community training on the Pipeline-to-Proposal

  • January 2017 - A Networking Reception for Researchers of Color in Boston

  • May 2017 - The 2nd Annual Boston BRI...DGE Conference: Patient-Centered Outcome Research Dissemination and Implementation

  • January 2018 - A community symposium on Research, Race, and Trust

  • June 2018 - A community symposium on Race, Racism, and Health in Medical Mecca

  • June 2018 - The 3rd Annual Boston BRI...DGE Conference: Healthy Aging in Place


The positive feedback CCHERS received from various partners and stakeholders involved throughout the first Boston BRI…DGE has informed the next steps of the project. With a new grant from the PCORI starting in January 2019, the Boston BRI…DGE will expand its strategies to include building research capacity of stakeholders, developing a PCOR training toolkit for the community, and providing funding opportunities and technical support for community project proposals (which we call “promising partnerships”). Just like the previous phase, the current BRI…DGE for the next two years will be a stakeholder-led engagement process. It will conduct community symposia and conferences as the past project, in addition to smaller group educational and networking events.