This series on health disparities in the Pittsburgh region is the result of collaboration between the New Pittsburgh Courier, Community PARTners, a core service of the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Institute and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. Pitt assistant professors Michael Yonas, DrPH, and Jessica Griffin Burke, PhD, and professor Ronald D. Stall, PhD, co-direct Community PARTners with Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League. Dr. Yonas recently sat down to speak with Ms. Bush about the partnership.


MY: Why is “Take charge of your health today. Be informed. Be involved.” important to you?

EB: Without the right information and resources, we are unable to address the health disparities facing our men, women, children and families in Allegheny County. I am excited about this unique partnership between the Urban League, the New Pittsburgh Courier and the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). It’s important because it represents a strong commitment to improve the health status of African Americans in Allegheny County. The information highlighted in these upcoming eight monthly segments in the Courier is based on the topics discussed in the just-published Allegheny County Health in Black and White. This new collaboration is an exciting way for us to bring information related to health resources, information and research to the community.

MY: How did you get involved with this project?

EB: It was my idea! Being involved with each of these organizations helped me to bring these three important community resources together.

MY: Why is this partnership important for the community?

EB: This new collaboration is the first step in growing a partnership to better understand and address both new and long-term health issues. If we don’t get the right information through the right media, with the right organization to lead this project—I don’t think we’ll see the changes in our communities that we need.

MY: Why should the community consider participating in research?

EB: We need EVERYONE to become informed and learn about opportunities to participate in research. Everyone! There is a long and understandable history of mistrust of research by African Americans. This has to be acknowledged, respected and addressed. Because of this history, fewer African Americans have participated in research. Unfortunately, the lack of participation results in research findings that do not aptly reflect the diversity in our community.

With that said, we need more people—especially African Americans—to learn about the potential risks and benefits of deciding to participate in research. These segments will help. It’s great to have our partners at CTSI to answer any and all questions about research participation.

MY: Have you participated in clinical research?

EB: Yes, I have. I participated in both the HeartScore study and in a sleep study. In each I have to say I received extremely sensitive, respectful, non-invasive and thorough care. They were both very comfortable experiences. They were free and very helpful—giving me much more information than I would have acquired on my own. In cases where anything needed attention, they provided the information directly to my primary care physician. Overall, excellent experiences in both cases.

(For more information, please contact Community PARTners at 1-866-422-1575,, or visit our website at

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