Duke REACH Equity Center Reveals the 2021 Career Development Awardees

The Duke Center for REsearch to Advance HealthCare Equity (REACH Equity) has selected the fourth cohort of Career Development Awardees – REACH Equity Scholars. Targeting junior faculty, these two-year awards support mentored research projects focusing on the REACH Equity theme: addressing racial and ethnic disparities in health by developing and testing interventions that improve the quality of patient-centered care in the clinical encounter – a setting in which racial and ethnic disparities are well-documented. Scholars are selected through an NIH-style peer review process.

These three awardees will begin their time as REACH Equity scholars in July 2021:

Charles Muiruri, PhD, Medical Instructor, Department of Population Health Sciences

Project Title: Addressing barriers to blood pressure control for African Americans living with HIV

Dr. Muiruri’s research seeks to reduce the burden of non-AIDS conditions such as cardiovascular disease in historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups living with HIV. His REACH Equity project will use an implementation science framework to determine the most salient modifiable barriers to design and test the feasibility of a clinic-based intervention for African Americans living with HIV who have achieved viral suppression and have uncontrolled blood pressure. Primary mentor: Hayden Bosworth, PhD.

Charity Oyedeji, MD, Assistant Professor (effective 7/1/21), Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology

Project Title: Sickle cell disease functional assessment validation and refinement (SILVR) study

Dr. Oyedeji’s overall research career goal is to understand accelerated aging, functional decline, and frailty in adults with sickle cell disease (SCD), and develop interventions to ameliorate these issues. The goal of her REACH Equity project is to develop a validated assessment tool that can facilitate early identification of functional impairments among older adults with SCD to provide the framework for future work to develop personalized exercise training interventions to improve functional impairments. Primary mentor: JJ Strouse, MD, PhD.


Jennifer Plumb-Vilardaga, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Adult Psychology & Psychiatry

Project Title: Improving physical activity through values and activity pacing

Dr. Plumb-Vilardaga’s long-term career goal is to mitigate persistent pain through behavioral and physical activity interventions for older adults, particularly for racial groups who bear a disproportionate burden of persistent pain. Her REACH equity project will target modifiable barriers and facilitators for a physical activities intervention for older African Americans with osteoarthritis using culturally-sensitive
motivational enhancement through values clarification. Primary mentor: Tamara Somers, PhD.


The REACH Equity Career Development Award program is directed by Laura P. Svetkey, MD, Professor of Medicine and Associate Director of the REACH Equity Center. Scholars engage in mentored research and a career development program provided by the REACH Equity Center that includes a core curriculum, training in community engagement, statistical guidance, supplemental mentorship from REACH Equity faculty, a works-in-progress seminar series, and an annual disparities research colloquium. Prior to the end of the 2-year award period, each scholar is expected to submit a grant application for next-stage funding.

Kimberly S. Johnson, MD, Director of the REACH Equity Center, said, “Our REACH Equity Scholars are an outstanding group of young investigators working across disciplines, settings, and diseases to advance health equity for racial and ethnic minorities.  I am extremely excited to welcome this fourth cohort of scholars.  Their proposals will develop and test broadly applicable, creative solutions to address health disparities…Dr. Svetkey and I look forward to working with them over the next 2 years of their REACH Equity support and beyond.”

The REACH Equity Center is one of twelve Specialized Centers of Excellence (U54), funded by the NIH through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

For questions, please contact Laura Svetkey (laura.svetkey@duke.edu), Director of the REACH Equity Investigator Development Core, or Cheryl Miller (cheryl.j.miller@duke.edu), REACH Equity Research Program Leader.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *