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WVCTSI’s Ambassadors for Community Health Research: Partnering with the Community to Accelerate Change

Building on institutional strengths to expand community-based research, the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI) is launching “Ambassadors for Community Health Research,” a pilot program focusing on increasing rural resident involvement in research.

The program, created by the WVCTSI’s Community Engagement and Outreach Core, is inviting West Virginians to work alongside researchers to make a positive local impact. Through this active collaboration, community members will advise on multiple aspects of community-based research, including funding, study conduct, and result dissemination back to the community.

“We are committed to enhancing community input into  esearch,”  said Dr. Sally Hodder, WVCTSI director, associate vice president for clinical and translational science and Preeminent Scholar Chair at West Virginia University. “The Ambassadors for Community Health Research program provides an excellent opportunity to engage community members as active partners in  improving health in West Virginia through research.”

To join the program, no prior education is required. Community members chosen as the program’s ambassadors will receive training and education to better understand clinical and community research, basics of human subjects’ research, and community-engaged research plans. They will also receive a stipend of $1,000 for their participation in the program. Ambassadors will then be matched with investigators interested in working closely with communities to implement community-engaged research.

“The Ambassadors for Community Health Research Program is designed to engage community members as full partners in research,” said Dr. Brianna Sheppard, co-director of the WVCTSI Community Engagement and Outreach Core. “We are excited for the opportunity to learn with and from West Virginians who want to use research as a tool to support the wellbeing of their community by becoming Ambassadors.”

For additional information and questions, visit the Ambassadors for Community Health Research webpage, or email Bree Gustke, Community Engagement & Research Coordinator, at