Methods: The Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical and Translational Research organized the Community Research Advisory Council (C-RAC) to serve a representative group of key stakeholders of the East Baltimore city and Bayview community. The C-RAC was designed to ensure that research proposals are relevant and responsive to the priorities of target populations in the Baltimore community by seeking input from patients, families, healthcare professionals, advocates, and stakeholders who live, work, or serve a specific target population. The council chapters meet four times a year with researchers and conducts community related events and programs throughout the year (i.e. disaster preparedness education, blood pressure screenings and flu vaccine inoculation) throughout the year in partnership with academicians. The mission of the C-RAC is to safeguard the health of Baltimore City residents while supporting the advancement of patient centered research within the Johns Hopkins institution. The C-RAC carries out its mission by 1) evaluating and reviewing health research, 2) informing researchers about community interests and preferences, 3) sharing health and research information and 4) supporting community and faith-based projects. To facilitate attendance, meetings are held in the evening to ensure optimal representation of all interest groups.
Results: Since their establishment in 2009, the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore and Bayview community research advisory councils have informed Hopkins researchers on multiple research projects in the recruitment, cultural sensitivity, research design and dissemination phases of their proposed projects. They have contributed to repairing the strained tie between the Hopkins institution and its surrounding community. They have been a part of the movement to improve the health of Baltimore city residents by conducting health fairs and by providing education to vulnerable populations within the community.
Conclusions: Research institutions should aim for synergistic collaboration with community research advisory councils for developing and maintaining partnerships within their respective communities and to eliminate health disparities, especially when employing a CER approach.