UAlbany Launches the Institute for Social and Health Equity

By Erin Frick

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 22, 2024) — Last week, the University at Albany launched the Institute for Social and Health Equity (ISHE) — a new research and training hub designed to harness UAlbany’s existing strengths, together with community engagement, to address longstanding societal problems related to health disparities and inequity in the Capital Region and beyond. 

The Institute will provide a “home” for multidisciplinary research collaborations across the University, with regional partners in academia, government, nonprofit institutions and the private sector. Dedicated research interest groups at UAlbany are already exploring topics such as healthy aging, maternal and child health disparities, and environmental health disparities. 

“Interdisciplinary efforts like ISHE lean into UAlbany’s unique strengths by creating connections and leveraging cutting-edge technologies, like AI, to solve real-word problems,” said UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez. “Among the research centers housed at ISHE are the Global Center for AI in Mental Health and the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis. These centers leverage UAlbany’s unique areas of expertise, research infrastructure, and connections to government and other external partners to push the boundaries on what academic research can achieve."

Paul Morgan, Empire Innovation Professor at UAlbany’s School of Public Health, is leading the Institute as its inaugural director. “We are tremendously excited about the many conversations we had together during the launch including those fostering research and community collaborations that will help advance social and equity locally and across our state,” said Morgan.

The launch was marked by a celebration featuring invited guest speaker Adam Gamoran, president of the William T. Grant Foundation, who met with UAlbany faculty and staff over two days to discuss ongoing research efforts and strategic collaborations taking shape within the Institute. 

As president of the William T. Grant Foundation, Gamoran leads efforts to facilitate research aiming to improve the lives of young people, with an emphasis on evidence-based strategies. His presentation at the ISHE launch event focused on ways to effectively convey research to decision-makers to ensure academic knowledge production, particularly social science research, is being used to inform policy. 

Speakers at the event included NYS Department of Health Commissioner James McDonald, UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez, VP for Research and Economic Development Thenkurussi (Kesh) Kesavadas and ISHE Director Paul Morgan.

Forging community partnerships is central to ISHE’s mission. Among the over 110 attendees at the launch were representatives from the NYS DOH Office of Health Equity and Human Rights, the NYS Office of Youth Justice and the NYS Office of Justice Research and Policy.

Spectrum NewsNews Channel 13 and The Daily Gazette covered the event. 

To learn more about ISHE initiatives, including opportunities for research collaboration, grant writing support and information on other funding mechanisms, contact Debbie Hazapis, associate director of operations for the Institute.