Happy New Year from the Chicago Chronic Condition Equity Network! As we enter our third year as a center, we celebrate the process of sharing knowledge and working together as a diverse and growing body of researchers and community-based organizations.

We were grateful to have several opportunities to gather as a team in 2023, most recently at our second annual meeting in September. In June, researchers and community members convened at the Chicago Health Equity Alignment Summit to discuss topics including housing, mental health, cancer, cardiometabolic disease, economic vitality, education, food access, perinatal health, public safety, and substance use. Throughout the year we held a series of town halls across the Chicago area, in which community members shared their priorities for health equity research. Two concerns clearly emerged in the process: mental health and violence.

We welcomed several new early stage health equity investigators to our Pilot Award program: Rachel Boutté, Kirsten Dickins, Chuka Emezue, Li-Ting H. Longcoy, Sarah Sobotka, Elizabeth Tung, Fabian Sierra-Morale, Victoria Flores, Melissa Gutierrez-Kapheim, Shilpa Iyer, Lauren Little and Anne Hoffmann (co-PIs), Milkie Vu, and Mohan Zalake and awarded minigrants to Chuka Emezue, Dedeepya Konuthula, Daniel Schober, Susan Tran, John Flores, Anna Volerman, and John Martin. Our minigrant program was renamed the Joyce Chapman Community Grant in honor of CSAC member Joyce Chapman. We remain inspired by her legacy of community advocacy.

We are proud that C3EN members are making a difference: Pilot Awardee Saria Lofton’s Food Is Medicine program has been featured on NBC Chicago. Pilot Awardee Chuka Emezue has launched a new violence prevention app. CSAC co-chair Raul Garza was named a Crain’s Chicago Business Notable Leader in Healthcare, and his organization, Aunt Martha’s, was awarded a $9 million grant from Yield Giving. Forty Acres Fresh Market and C3EN partner West Side United broke ground to build a new grocery store in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s west side.

This year, C3EN launches two newly funded research programs, both focused on mental and behavioral health. Activity and Recreation in Communities for Health (ARCH), led by Brad Appelhans of Rush University and Paris Thomas of Equal Hope, is a novel approach to reducing symptoms of depression and lowering cardiometabolic risk. Patient Outcome Reporting for Timely Assessments of Life with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PORTAL-PTSD), led by Neda Laiteerapong of University of Chicago and Melissa Duplantis of Chicago Family Health Center, is a project to screen for PTSD on the south side of Chicago. We are excited about the progress we are making towards collaborative research with our community partners.

We look forward to the impact we can create together as a community in 2024!

Elbert Huang and Beth Lynch