2019 IRL Themes

IRL’s two themes for 2019 are “clinical practice, social services, and health,” and “community development and health.” Both are detailed below.


Aligning Clinical Practice, Social Services, and Health

There is insufficient knowledge of, and coordination between, clinical practice and social services, particularly for populations experiencing the greatest health disparities. Our aim is to generate community-engaged research on solutions for better integration and alignment of the two systems.

We’re especially interested in unexpected teams that can improve information sharing and collaboration between sectors. For example, imagine:

  • A team with a physician working with experts in informatics and criminal justice;
  • A social worker collaborating with a behavioral health counselor and a housing advocate; or
  • Teams exploring questions like: How do systems connect to promote well-being? How can two-way connections become stronger so doctors can share information that will help their social services colleagues and so social services practitioners can share information that will help doctors meet their patients’ needs? How do emergency databases talk to criminal justice databases?


Community Development and Health

Community development invests more than $200 billion annually in low-income neighborhoods. While there is evidence that the most impactful investments have improved both the built environment and the social and service environment, the relationship between community development and health remains largely unexplored and has not been rigorously evaluated.

This research theme funds teams to explore direct and indirect community development efforts and their impact on health, with a priority on intersectoral efforts (e.g., business, local government, philanthropy, education, etc.).

Here again, we’re especially interested in unexpected teams that can leverage financial investment to improve well-being. For example, imagine:

  • A team with an economist collaborating with a civil engineer and a municipal leader;
  • A business leader working with a sociologist and a public health researcher; or
  • Teams exploring questions like: How can we fund and guide community development in a way that keeps health at the center?


Across Both Themes

The approach to this research, in both themes, is unique in three key ways:

  • Our focus on community engagement, equity, and real-time impact—the foundations of our program—sets this research apart from the existing literature.
  • Our focus on interdisciplinary approaches and fresh—even unexpected—partnerships on our teams. Who are new collaborators you could team with to transform your approach and deepen your impact?
  • The inclusion of leadership development—grounded in equity, authentic engagement, and application of research to influence policy—distinguishes this program from other research grants. Through intensive learning, mentoring, and research, our fellows deepen their influence and impact as leaders with the power to transform their workplace and community.


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