Providing breast cancer screening to women with severe mental illness. Preventing the use of opioids among adolescents by testing the effectiveness of interventions on social media. Ensuring ethnically diverse neighborhoods have access to online health information. Addressing bias in algorithms for diagnosing and supporting mental health. Using sensors and common-sense strategies to manage indoor air quality. These are just a few examples of the 14 innovative and interdisciplinary projects the new Rutgers Community Design for Health and Wellness – Interdisciplinary Research Group (CDHW-IRG) is funding to directly link research to community-based concerns in New Jersey for improved health and wellness of their residents.

Through CDHW, the CDHW-IRG seeks to catalyze community-engaged, interdisciplinary, cross-campus research that creates solutions to the gaps, risks, and opportunities for health and wellness that lie at the intersections of population health, personalized medicine, and the evolving communication and information context in New Jersey and beyond.

Over the past several months, CDHW-IRG has provided seed funding to 14 projects, selected through competitive review, that have proposed novel approaches to addressing classic “upstream” issues that can impact personal health and community well-being, such as the social-physical-economic environment, behaviors, health services, biology and genetics, and public policy. While each project addresses different community health concerns, all projects focus on the role of information and communication as a determinant of health and well-being. The complexity of the issues addressed requires interdisciplinary research that takes a design attitude that values working with communities to solve multi-dimensional problems.

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