New Office to Advance Community-Engaged and Research-Practice Partnerships

The Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) and the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) together have launched a new office focused on utilizing evaluation and associated responsive and community-engaged research to improve practices and augment impact.


The Office of Evaluation and Applied Research Partnership will serve as a coordinated and interdisciplinary hub that unites foundational work underway at SSRI and CTSI; in particular, it aligns SSRI’s Applied Research, Evaluation, and Engagement team with CTSI’s Evaluation and Strategic Planning team.


The office will facilitate leadership in evaluation and associated research partnerships across the university, provide a mechanism to offer specialized expertise to university and community entities, and work to advance multiple aims in Duke’s larger strategic plan. The latter includes supporting research development, fostering equitable community engagement, and augmenting teaching and learning opportunities.


“This office’s ability to draw on and bring together diverse disciplinary bases across both the social and clinical and translational sciences has the potential to build critical learnings to inform research and evaluation practice, ultimately improving society,” said Susanna Naggie, MD, MHS, interim director of Duke CTSI and associate professor of medicine and vice dean for clinical research for the School of Medicine.


Don Taylor, SSRI faculty director and faculty in the Sanford School of Public Policy, agreed and said, “This exciting partnership joins expertise from across Duke to provide actionable results from high quality evaluations of innovative programs. This collaboration will allow Duke to better integrate social science knowledge into research projects to yield results that are relevant for public policy.”


Activities within this office will focus on partnering with campus, health system, and community initiatives to develop and implement 1) evaluation and associated responsive/community-engaged research efforts; 2) capacity-building and learning opportunities; and 3) advances and applications of evaluation and related applied and community-partnered research.


Jessica Sperling, PhD.

The office will be led by Jessica Sperling, PhD, who currently leads both CTSI and SSRI groups that this office unites. “This office owes its existence to Dr. Sperling’s vision and is a product of her expertise and knowledge in the areas of evaluation, community engagement, and equity,” said Joe McClernon, PhD, CTSI Co-Director for Integration and Strategic Partnership and faculty in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “She’s built fantastic teams at CTSI and SSRI and we’re excited to see where their combined vision, talent, and energy can lead.”


Ed Balleisen, PhD, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, is excited for this new initiative will be able to accomplish. “I view this office as extending a critical mechanism to build bridges across disciplines, to deepen Duke’s partnership with external organizations, and to extend our capacity to leverage Duke’s research expertise to address societal imperatives.”


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