W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s $700K grant will aid 1st phase of Digital Tele-Health Incubation Hub at Jackson State University

(JACKSON, Miss.) — A $700,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will help Jackson State University’s College of Health Sciences launch the first phase of its Digital Tele-Health Hub (DTH) that will address historical health disparities among African Americans.

Dr. Girmay Berhie

The department’s CEPH-accredited School of Public said the coronavirus pandemic and its variants have raised the topics of social injustice and health inequity to the top of the agenda for many businesses and governments. However, public health leaders at JSU say fixing these inequities will not be accomplished through “business as usual.” As a result, they propose establishing a digital health hub at JSU.

Dr. Girmay Berhie, dean of the College of Health Sciences, said the future looks bright for digital telehealth.

“Jackson State University is uniquely positioned to design, implement and scale DTH solutions. It has the potential to reduce costs, increase access, improve health outcomes and reshape how African Americans interact with healthcare systems and providers,” Berhie said.

The School of Public Health proposes developing the capabilities of the new Digital Tele-Health Hub through a specific research project called “Managing Epidemics with Consumer Wearables.”

The hub will focus on three strategic pillars:

  • Phase 1 – Formative Research and Community Development (conducting collaborative research to deeply understand the unique challenges for using digital telehealth and earn the trust of the community).
  • Phase 2 – Study Design and Deployment (partnering with other leading research institutions, technology companies, healthcare systems, community organizers and the public sector to raise awareness of social and health challenges and co-design digital health solutions that proactively address inequities).
  • Phase 3 – Study Operations and Digital Tele-Health Expansion (deploy real-world innovations that have the potential to improve health outcomes for communities of color. JSU will analyze the impact of innovations and share findings with the community, partners, academic peers and other health stakeholders).

The project is in collaboration with the city of Jackson, the World Economic Forum and the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

Dr. Mario Azevedo, professor in JSU’s College of Liberal Arts, and Dr. Fidelis Ikem, dean of JSU’s College of Business, are co-PIs of the project.