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Erika Cheng, associate professor of pediatrics and executive director of HEAL-R, shares information about the upcoming Health Equity Symposium, including updates on health equity research collaborations at IU.

First HEAL-R health equity symposium designed to propel researchers ‘from analysis to action’

Erika Cheng, PhD

Erika Cheng, PhD

You may have heard the buzz.

There’s a health equity symposium coming to Indianapolis November 9-10. It’s the first such symposium hosted by a collaborative known as HEAL-R (Health Equity Advancing through Learning health systems Research), a partnership of Indiana University Health’s Office of Health Equity Research and Engagement (HERE), Indiana University School of Medicine, the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), the Regenstrief Institute and the Irsay Institute at Indiana University–Bloomington.

Erika Cheng, PhD, MPA, associate professor of pediatrics at IU School of Medicine, leads the Symposium Advisory Committee and serves as executive director of HEAL-R. She shared information about the symposium, the “learning health system” (LHS) model and health equity research collaborations at IU.


What is the purpose of the symposium?

The purpose of the Health Equity Symposium is to provide a platform for researchers, clinicians, educators and community members to come together and discuss the latest advancements, challenges and opportunities in health equity research. It's an opportunity to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing in the pursuit of health equity.


Who is encouraged to attend the symposium?

We encourage anyone with an interest in health equity to attend, including health care professionals, researchers, educators, policymakers, community leaders and students. The symposium aims to bring together a diverse audience to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and dialogue.


What is a “learning health system”?

A learning health system is a health care system that continuously collects and analyzes data from patient care to inform and improve clinical practices, patient outcomes and health care policies. It emphasizes the integration of research and practice to create a dynamic feedback loop that drives continuous improvement in health care delivery.


What are your personal interests in health services research?

My personal interests in health services research revolve around identifying and addressing health disparities, particularly in vulnerable and underserved populations. I am passionate about using research to identify and implement strategies that enhance health care access, quality and outcomes for all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances.


Health equity word cloudWho is involved with health equity research at IU School of Medicine?

IU School of Medicine has a vibrant and diverse community of researchers, clinicians and educators dedicated to health equity research. This includes faculty, students and staff across various departments and centers—including the Indiana CTSI and the Regenstrief Institute—who actively contribute to advancing health equity through their work. HEAL-R brings together many of these researchers in our Affiliate Faculty program, which is designed to foster shared experiences, mentorship opportunities and collaborative research initiatives focused on health equity.


How can this important research be translated “from analysis to action”?

Translating health equity research from analysis to action requires collaboration between researchers, health care providers, policymakers and community organizations. It involves developing actionable recommendations based on research findings and implementing evidence-based interventions. Engaging with the community and advocating for policy changes are also crucial steps in turning research into tangible improvements in health care equity.


How is collaboration with institutional and community partners advancing health equity in Indiana?

Collaboration with institutional and community partners is absolutely essential in advancing health equity in Indiana. By working together, we can leverage collective expertise, resources and insights to develop and implement initiatives that address the root causes of health disparities.


HEAL-R logoDo you envision the symposium becoming an annual event?

We would love to host an annual Health Equity Symposium! The symposium serves as an important platform for ongoing dialogue and collaboration in the field of health equity. Hosting it annually would allow us to continually build on previous discussions, share new research findings, and engage a growing community of stakeholders.


How can the IU School of Medicine community get involved in advancing health equity?

The IU School of Medicine community can get involved in advancing health equity by actively participating in research, education and community outreach initiatives focused on health disparities. Anyone interested can also join HEAL-R’s mailing list to stay connected with our events. We host monthly seminars focused on health equity topics and have an Affiliate Faculty program to bring together health equity researchers across campus. Additionally, attending events like the Health Equity Symposium provides an opportunity to learn, connect and contribute to the ongoing work in this important area.

Health Equity Symposium 2023 banner

Read more about the symposium speakers, view the agenda and register for the symposium on the “From Analysis to Action” LHS equity conference website.