CTSI Population Health Improvement Awards Program

Fostering community-research partnerships

Seed awards of $1,500

New and advanced partnership awards of $50,000


Program Description

Achieving significant transformation of community health outcomes requires an integrated approach that involves broad community and patient stakeholder engagement with the research enterprise to speed and optimize uptake of new innovations. Yet, community stakeholders, including public health, social services, community based organizations, caregivers, families, patient advocates, insurance companies, and payers have not been optimally involved in shaping research.  Lack of engagement impacts integrated, interdisciplinary collaboration, slows innovation, and may hamper development of creative opportunities for translation of scientific innovations to broader populations.

While many recognize that patient and community stakeholder engagement is necessary and optimal to stimulate the generation of innovative solutions to improve health and reduce health inequities, there are limited funding mechanisms for this important activity. Consequently, the Duke Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) funds the Population Health Improvement Awards program to stimulate and foster community-research partnerships that advance solutions to improve local health and health care delivery. The awards also can be leveraged to provide the necessary funding to generate pilot data for future funding opportunities involving community-research collaborations.


This Awards program aims to engage community and academic partners in collaborative research that promotes novel ideas to improve community and population health. Duke CTSI, home of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Award at Duke, will provide approximately $100,000 annually to support pilot awards that can be used to either a) develop new community-research partnerships or b) foment already existing community and research partnerships that aim to develop and test effective solutions to improve community and population health. These partnerships and innovations can originate from community stakeholders or from Duke research partners but they must involve both community and research collaborators.  

The CTSI Population Health Improvement Awards program has a several funding opportunities designed to identify and promote the most promising community-research collaborations. These collaborations will work together to develop solutions designed to address population health issues identified as priorities by the Durham community and provide support for community-partnered studies to generate pilot  data needed to develop larger scale proposals, awards, and projects.

Key Dates for 2022

Mandatory Letter of Intent Deadline: Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Invited Application Submission Deadline: Friday, March 18, 2022

*Rolling application deadline for $1,500 Seed Awards (Reviewed and awarded in February, June, September, December).

New and Advanced Partnership Awards: $50,000

Two $50,000 awards to stimulate new and advanced community-engaged partnerships that are initiated either by community organizations or Duke researchers. Applications must contain both community and Duke research collaborators and show strong evidence of collaboration and partnership in all aspects of the proposal.

  • New community-research partnership teams will aim to co-develop solutions designed to improve community and population health and address Durham County health priorities. Competitive applications will  develop and pilot approaches to translate evidence-based discoveries into community settings or develop pilot data for a larger implementation program or award. 
  • Advanced partnered research teams of community organizations/groups and Duke researchers will have already developed innovations to health problems and are ready to advance testing these solutions through broader community-engaged implementation. Preference will be given to proposals which have an explicit plan for integration of evidence based practices into community settings with a plan for sustainability, and a plan to mobilize community assets and strengths to test feasibility of implementation strategies for population health improvement 

Download the 2022 PHI Award RFA

Seed Awards: $1.5K - Not accepting applications this year

CERI provides small 1-year seed awards to community organizations and Duke investigators interested in developing partnerships for co-developing novel solutions that impact community and population health. Community organizations and Duke research partners interested in working with the CTSI’s Community Engagement Core will receive small planning awards of $1,500 and guidance on developing impactful community-research partnerships and planning collaborative population health improvement research proposals.

Applicants are encouraged to consult with the Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERI) to help facilitate connections with other CTSI cores that can assist with their projects (e.g. biostatistics, metrics and evaluation, project management, emerging technologies).

Request a Consultation with CERI.

Note that any projected assistance from these cores should be included in the budget. Assistance is available to all awardees and includes a variety of engagement support services including capacity building, tools for sustainable and equitable partnerships, and ongoing feedback and input, as needed.


  • Duke CTSI and CERI are interested in the following types of research projects that have been envisioned and co-created through a collaboration between community and Duke partners:Research that focuses on health care priorities identified in the community through community-level assessments such as the 2020 Durham County Community Health Assessment , including but not limited to diabetes, obesity or overweight, mental health, substance use, cold, flu and cough, violent crime, affordable housing, gentrification, public transportation improvement, police reform and crime reduction, physical activity infrastructure, access to care, and health programming and health education
  • Priorities identified by interdisciplinary and multisector community-level coalitions, including but not limited to Partnership for a Healthy Durham, Latinx Advocacy Team and Interdisciplinary Network for COVID-19 (Latin-19), the African American COVID Task Force (AACT+), Aging Well Durham, the Community Health Coalition, and others
  • Evidence-based strategies to strengthen the roles that Community Health Workers play in improving population health
  • Research that focuses on areas of disparity and health equity (Race or ethnicity, sex, sexual identity, age, disability, socioeconomic status, and geographic location)
  • Pilot studies that use previously gathered data in selecting and tracking outcomes, including, but not limited to Patient or Community Reported Outcomes
  • Tests of innovative implementation strategies to optimize uptake of solutions at the community level that show promise and are committed to developing solutions that are sustainable
  • Projects that are geared toward improving local health and securing follow-on support for larger investigations of implementation
  • NOTE: This RFA does not fund program/project development or evaluations of existing programs/projects. Quality improvement projects are not funded through this mechanism

Contact Information

General questions not answered in the RFA about the proposals and the review process should be addressed to kiah.gaskin@duke.edu before submission.