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Dr. Poorna Kushalnagar awarded NIH grant to address cancer health equity in deaf and hard of hearing populations

October 14, 2021


Poorna Kushalnagar, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Center for Deaf Health Equity, is the contact principal investigator on a new five-year, $4,422,938 collaborative grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund’s Transformative Research to Address Health Disparities and Advance Health Equity initiative for her project titled “Using technology-enhanced approaches to advance cancer health equity among diverse deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing populations.”

The project goal is to customize a technology platform for use by community health workers (CHWs) who are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing and use American Sign Language (ASL). The web- and mobile-based CHW-ASL tool has two parts: 

(1) fully accessible learning curriculum for CHWs, and 

(2) virtual guided practice environments to support CHWs’ patient-centered navigation work and clinicians’ communication with deaf, deaflind, and hard of hearing patients. 

This will deliver an innovative, accessible technology that has the potential to significantly impact and transform health equity in the deaf, deaflind, and hard of hearing community. This impactful work is supported by a highly interdisciplinary team, spanning expertise in DDBHH health disparities medicine, public health, health informatics, human factors engineering, and computer science.

Dr. Kushalnagar’s award from NIH includes funding for researchers from the Dell Medical Center at the University of Texas at Austin (Chris Moreland, M.D., M.P.H.); University of Virginia (Rupa Valdez, Ph.D.); Starship Inc. (Wayne Zachary, Ph.D.); and Sam Houston State University (Tracy Knight, Ed.D.). Community collaborators include Donalda Ammons, Ed.D., of Riverside, California; Georgia Robins Sadler, Ph.D., M.B.A., B.S.N., of the University of California at San Diego; and Sowmya Rao, Ph.D., biostatistician.

Dr. Kushalnagar’s grant is one of 11 awards funded by the NIH Common Fund to support collaborative investigative teams who propose unusually innovative research projects, which, if successful, would have a major impact in developing, implementing, or disseminating innovative and effective interventions to prevent, reduce, or eliminate health disparities and advance health equity.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the Common Fund within the Office of the Director at NIH under Award Number U01OD033240. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Award amount: $4,422,938 for five (5) years

14 October 2021


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