Ethics Grand Rounds | Community Engage Research for Innovation and for Equity? Implications of taking community voice seriously

Community Engaged Research for Innovation and for Equity? Implications of Taking Community Voice Seriously

Headshot of Michelle Allen
Michele Allen, MD, MS


Community Engaged Research (CER) has become a priority for funders to increase representation in clinical trials and address health disparities. CER contributes to health innovations by bringing the perspectives of end-users - those most impacted by health inequities – into the research process.

However, CER does not necessarily lead to improved health equity or trust in the research process. In this talk, Dr. Allen describes tension points between research and community perspectives when we take community voice seriously regarding our routine ways of conceptualizing, conducting, and disseminating research. Dr. Allen uses examples from her own work and that of community partners to consider how we can move from CER for innovation to CER for equity.


Michele Allen, MD, MS, Director, Endowed Chair of Health Equity Research, Co-director of CTSI’s Community Engagement to Advance Research and Community Health (CEARCH), Associate Professor. Dr. Allen is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research, and Endowed Chair of Health Equity Research at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Her research focuses on community-based participatory approaches to developing and implementing health promotion, and tobacco and other substance use prevention interventions for adolescents of color and those from immigrant communities.

Dr. Allen is a leader in the science of participatory research and in increasing capacity on both academic and community sides for research collaboration. She has led multiple studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and other large foundations using participatory approaches. As PI on a NCI-funded T32 on Cancer Health Disparities, and a R25 designed to support the academic persistence of high school and undergraduate students underrepresented in science, Dr. Allen works toward fulfilling her commitment to enhancing the diversity of the research and clinical workforce.

Dr. Allen completed medical school at the University of Minnesota, and a Master’s Degree in sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Allen spends her clinical time serving families at the Community University Health Care Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.