New State-Wide Institute to Accelerate Health Equity-Focused Research

January 26, 2024

BOSTON – Leaders from across Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH) and collaborating institutions today announced plans to establish the Massachusetts Institute for Equity-Focused Learning Health System Science (MIELHSS). Funded by a grant awarded by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the institute will be the first-of-its-kind in New England and one of only 16 institutions in the nation dedicated to accelerating equity-focused, patient-centered research to address health disparities and improve outcomes.

“There is a critical need to address the deeply-rooted, long-standing health disparities we face as a country,” said MEILHSS Executive Committee Member Juan Fernando Lopera, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at BILH. “This institute will bring together patients, communities, scientists, advocates, and health systems to transform healthcare and achieve meaningful impact in health equity.”

Despite Massachusetts being home to many leading research centers, medical schools, and health systems, dramatic health disparities remain present. MEILHSS will use a human-centered design to elevate the voices of historically marginalized communities and close gaps between discovery science and clinical application to improve health equity. This approach puts the patient voice front and center to create collaborative learning networks where researchers, patients and system leaders come together to share experiences and co-design solutions.

“MIELHSS will build the framework for a future of human-centered, equity-focused learning health system science,” said MIELHSS Principal Investigator and Director Jeanne-Marie Guise, MD, MPH, MBA, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “It brings us great pride to know that we are building something so imperative to the future of the health and well-being of the people in Massachusetts and beyond.”

Led by Guise, in partnership with David Bates, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Stephen Bartels, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, the cross-institutional alliance includes patients and leaders from across Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH), Mass General Brigham, UMass Memorial Health, Veterans Affairs, Cambridge Health Alliance, and community health centers. Together, the collective cares for diverse patient populations and shares a common goal to advance equity-focused learning by accelerating research, building a shared data infrastructure, training the next generation of diverse science leaders, and creating a collaborative interorganizational culture.

“Research is a key pillar of equitable access to extraordinary patient care,” said Gyongyi Szabo, MD, PhD, chief academic officer of BIDMC and BILH. “By preparing the next generation of leaders in health equity science with a strong intentional foundation, MEILHSS will accelerate the translation of innovation to clinical practice, improving health outcomes for all in Massachusetts.”

MEILHSS was made possible with support from AHRQ, an agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services. AHRQ provides resources to improve the safety and quality of healthcare for all Americans.

“AHRQ and PCORI are training a new cadre of learning health system scientists. Healthcare systems and their providers will use these scientists' evidence to advance care as quickly, broadly, and equitably as possible,” said AHRQ Director Robert Otto Valdez, Ph.D., M.H.S.A. “Our organizations are following through on our commitment to support learning health systems by helping to train this new group of scientists. That investment is expected to pay off many times over in new knowledge generated and better treatments delivered to patients.”

About Beth Israel Lahey Health

Beth Israel Lahey Health is a health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,800 physicians and 38,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.

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