Chris Hahm’s Uphill Battle: The Severe Underfunding of AAPI Diabetes Research

Hyeouk Chris Hahm headshotHyeouk Chris Hahm, PhD, MSSW, professor at the Boston University School of Social Work and CISWH affiliated faculty, is the lead researcher for Epi Asian American Women’s Action In Resilience Empowerment (AWARE) study. The study got its name from inspiration out of stories from young Asian American women navigating the challenges of adulthood, American culture, and their parent’s culture. Along with Yvette Cozier, DSc, another lead researcher on the team, Hahm is investigating trauma-related, race-related, and family-related stressors on the risk of Type 2 diabetes among Asian American women.

Despite Asian communities—including Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders—constituting 6.1 percent of the total U.S. population, all clinical research projects focused on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander participants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) comprised only 0.17 percent of the total NIH budget from 1992 to 2018. While the percentage of diabetes research focused on the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community is unknown, Hahm says that AAPI diabetes research is included in the aforementioned percentage. 

According to Hahm, more funding is needed to study diabetes among the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Type 2 diabetes affects nine percent of Asian Americans overall with the highest prevalence shared amongst Filipino, Pacific Islander, Japanese, and South Asian groups. “When you study Asian Americans, it is so difficult because there’s so little grant money out there,” Hahm tells Beyond Type 1. “There has been so little investment from the NIH to support our health because we are invisible.”

Read the full article at Beyond Type 1. 

CISWH Advisory Board Member Heidi L. Allen Appointed to Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission

Heidi AllenHeidi L. Allen, PhD, MSW, associate professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and an advisory board member for the Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health (CISWH), was appointed to the U.S. federal government’s Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) on May 3, 2021.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 established MACPAC to review Medicaid and CHIP access and payment policies and to advise Congress on issues affecting Medicaid and CHIP. The Act directs the Comptroller General to appoint MACPAC’s members.

“Policymakers rely on MACPAC’s thoughtful suggestions concerning Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” said Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), who appointed Dr. Allen.

“We are excited and proud to have Dr. Allen as an advisor and resource in achieving the Center’s mission to reduce health inequities by focusing on access and affordability of health services for children and families with complex health needs,” said Ellie Zambrano, CISWH executive director.

Dr. Allen studies the impact of social policies on health and financial well-being. She is a former emergency department social worker and spent several years in state health policy, examining health system redesign and public health insurance expansions. In 2014 and 2015, she was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in Health and Aging Policy. Dr. Allen is also a standing member of the National Institutes of Health’s Health and Healthcare Disparities study section. She joins the MACPAC along with other newly appointed members Robert Duncan, Laura Herrera Scott, and Verlon Johnson.

Read more at the Government Accountability Office website.

Video – Mental Health & COVID-19: Disparities, Strengths & Global Perspectives

On March 11, 2021, the National Hispanic and Latino Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network hosted a virtual symposium focusing on disparities, mental health challenges, strengths, and global perspectives in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. The speakers shared strategies and resources for Latinx and other racially diverse communities affected by the pandemic. The symposium was attended by more than 150 people and cosponsored by the Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health (CISWH) and National Autonomous University of Nicaragua. Watch the videos below.

Part 1: COVID-19: Disparities, Discrimination, and Mental Health Challenges
Presented by Hanner Hernández-Bonilla, PhD, CPS, Senior Consultant, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, with an introduction by Jorge Delva, Boston University School of Social Work Dean and CISWH Director.


Part 2: Biopsychosocial Strengthening of the University Community and its Environment Against COVID-19
Presented by MSc. Leana Lanuza, National Autonomous University of Nicaragua.


Part 3: Global Perspectives and Strengths in Families Coping with COVID-19
Presented by Luz Marilis López, PhD, MSW, MPH, Clinical Professor; Director, MSW/MPH Dual Degree Program; and Director, CISWH Global Health Core.

Daniel Jacobson López, PhD, Joins BUSSW as Assistant Professor

Daniel Jacobson López, PhD, has been appointed assistant professor at Boston University School of Social Work, beginning July 1, 2021. 

Daniel Jacobson LopezJacobson López, an expert in trauma, brings his innovative research on marginalized identities to BUSSW – specifically examining how possessing multiple marginalized identities affects the ways in which socio-political institutions and systems engage with gay Latino and/or Black sexual assault survivors and the services provided to them. He is currently a T32 postdoctoral associate in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health and a CEED diversity scholar at the Institute for Clinical Research Education and the Clinical and Translation Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. His primary research focuses on the sexual assault of gay Latino and/or Black male sexual assault survivors. He also researches violence against gay Black and Latino men, LGBTQ individuals and, recently, the effects of COVID-19 on people living with HIV/AIDS, focusing on the effects of racism (including anti-Black racism), homophobia, and xenophobia on the sexual assault reporting process and service provision for gay Latino and/or Black men of color. 

“I am thrilled to be joining the renowned faculty at Boston University School of Social Work under the distinguished leadership of Dean Delva,” says Jacobson López. “BUSSW has long served as a paragon of social work excellence in the nation.”

“I am particularly excited,” he adds, “about the possibility of contributing to the various projects at [BUSSW’s] Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health that are focused on integrating public health and social justice initiatives into practice on a global scale.”

Read more.

Webinar, 5/18: Amplifying Voice, Equity, and Well-Being for Social Work, Health, and Social Service Professionals

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM EST
Zoom webinar

Social workers, health providers, and other social service professionals play a valuable role in supporting the health of the communities they work with, yet they are often at risk for burnout and decreased well-being themselves due to inequitable work conditions. The quality of service delivered to communities can be impacted by the well-being of frontline workers on any given day. This panel explores the connection between workers’ voices and their well-being as individuals, and as a collective group. It also covers the benefits of labor unions and strategies for organizing workers in health and social services.

Watch the video:


Yaminette Diaz LinhartYaminette Díaz-Linhart (SSW’10, SPH’11), Doctoral Candidate, Brandeis Heller School for Social Policy and Management; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Fellow; Health Policy Research Scholar, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation




Josette JaramilloJosette Jaramillo, President, Colorado AFL-CIO





Thomas KochanThomas Kochan, George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management; Professor of Work and Employment Research; Co-Director, MIT Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management




Mildred “Mit” C. Joyner, DPS, MSW, LCSW, President, National Association of Social Workers (moderator)




This event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required. 1.5 free continuing education credits are available for social workers licensed in Massachusetts, after completion of a brief quiz. Webinar must be attended live to receive continuing education credits. Questions? Contact [email protected].

Event Accessibility

Boston University strives to be accessible, inclusive and diverse in our facilities, programming and academic offerings. Your experience in this event is important to us. If you have a disability (including but not limited to learning or attention, mental health, concussion, vision, mobility, hearing, physical or other health related), require communication access services for the deaf or hard of hearing, or believe that you require a reasonable accommodation for another reason, please contact the event organizer at [email protected] by April 27 to discuss your needs.



Webinar, 4/13: Caring for Children with Medical Complexity through Transformative Family Partnership

April 13, 2021
3:00pm EST
Zoom webinar

Health equity has taken center stage as our society reckons with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vitally important to health equity is authentic partnership with people with lived experience, but that can remain an elusive goal in the context of healthcare transformation. Launched in 2017, CISWH’s Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network on Children with Medical Complexity (CMC CoIIN), a 4-year project funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, has created transformational partnerships between families and interprofessional care teams that few members have experienced previously. The CoIIN’s goals are to improve quality of life for children with medical complexity, well-being of their families, and cost-effectiveness of their care.

In this month’s webinar session, we welcome Sarah Perkins and Judy Palfrey from CMC CoIIN – Boston Children’s Hospital, Maureen Benschoter and Rahel Berhane from CMC CoIIN – Dell Children’s Medical Center Comprehensive Care Clinic, Austin, TX, and Bethlyn Houlihan and Meg Comeau from CMC CoIIN to share how forging family partnerships impacted quality improvement processes and, subsequently, key outcomes during the pandemic.

Watch the video:

Webinar, 3/24: COVID-19, Black Communities, and Health Justice

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Racialized social policies have created the conditions that make it hard for communities to ​thrive. Inequities in the COVID-19 pandemic have made this quite clear. Improving health equity calls for an acknowledgment of the ways in which white supremacy culture permeates health policies and practice at all levels, as well as taking collective action to develop systems that are led by antiracist change. This panel explored the role that social work, health care, public health, community organizations, and policy can play in advancing health equity.

Read a recap of the event at Boston Medical Center’s HealthCity: Seeking Justice in Healthcare for Black Americans in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Watch the video:

Download the slides:


Linda Sprague MartinezLinda Sprague Martinez, Ph.D, Chair of Macro Practice and Associate Professor, Boston University School of Social Work





Jon Levy

Jon Levy, ScD, Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health; Co-Director, Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course; Boston University Center for Antiracist Research Affiliated Faculty




Cassandra PierreCassandra Pierre, MD, MPH, MSc. Assistant Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine; Medical Director of Public Health Programs, Associate Hospital Epidemiologist, Boston Medical Center




Denise SmithDenise Octavia Smith, MBA, CHW, PN, Executive Director, National Association of Community Health Workers





Ellie Zambrano, MSW, LICSW, Executive Director, Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health (moderator)







2021 Civic Health Conference, 4/23-4/24

Friday, April 23 – Saturday, April 24

The Civic Health Conference, hosted by Vot-ER, will bring students, clinicians, social workers, academics, and hospital leaders together to connect the dots across health and democracy, affirm civic engagement as a social determinant of health, and discuss topics from the importance of local elections to how to engage the youth vote to the power of community organizing. The Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health is proud to sponsor this event and present the following workshops: 

Social Work and Civic Health: Advancing Policy for Equity and Justice

Friday, April 23, 2021, 2:20pm – 3:20pm    

Our panelists, a state legislator, non-profit executive, and leader of a graduate school-based GOTV campaign, will explain social work’s role in promoting equity and justice through policy work. Current initiatives will be described in the context of the social work profession’s historic role in promoting systems-level change focused on political, social, economic, and cultural factors influencing population health.    


  • Tami Gouveia, DrPH, MSW, MPH, (SSW ’11, SPH ’12) State Representative, 14th Middlesex District, Massachusetts House of Representatives
  • Mojdeh Rohani, MSW, LICSW, (SSW ’09) Executive Director, De Novo 
  • Kristina Whiton-O’Brien, MSW, LICSW, (SSW ’95) Assistant Director for Online Advising and Field Education, Boston University School of Social Work
  • Geoff Wilkinson, MSW, (SSW ’85) Clinical Associate Professor, Boston University School of Social Work (moderator)


Social Work Roles in Health Care Settings: Addressing Patient, Family, and Community Needs

Saturday, April 24, 2021, 12:00pm – 12:45 pm

In this session, clinical social workers will describe their roles in relationship to other health professionals addressing patient and family medical, social service, and community resource needs. Panelists include clinicians working in in-patient, out-patient, and community health center settings addressing acute medical, rehabilitation, and behavioral health needs. The panel will highlight the socio-ecological framework of social work practice in practical terms, including discussion of clinician efforts to promote equity, social justice, and civic health through community and political engagement.


  • Dorothy Bergold, LICSW, MSW, (SSW ’81) Medical Social Worker, Massachusetts General Hospital, Primary Care Practice
  • Tfawa Haynes, LICSW, MSW, (SSW ’07) Psychotherapist, Clinical and Group Social Worker, Behavioral Health Staff Specialist, Fenway Community Health
  • Karen Potter, LICSW, MSW, Clinical Social Worker, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Betty J. Ruth, MSW, MPH, (SSW ’84, SPH ’85) Clinical Professor Emerita, Boston University School of Social Work (moderator)

This event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required. Register and learn about the full conference program below. 

1.5 free social work continuing education credits are available for social workers licensed in Massachusetts. Attendance of both workshops is required, along with successful completion of an evaluation and quiz. 

Prof. Lee Named Affiliate Faculty at BU Center for Antiracist Research

Christina Lee, PhD, associate professor at Boston University School of Social Work and research core director at the Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health, has been named an inaugural faculty affiliate at BU’s new Center for Antiracist Research.

The Affiliates Program is a network of faculty and graduate students from BU schools and colleges—and other universities and colleges in the New England area—engaged in antiracist research andwill participate in the Center’s research, policy, narrative, and advocacy work.

Dr. Lee’s research bridges the areas of intervention science, substance use psychology, health disparities, and discrimination. She believes strongly that we should we be asking about discrimination as part of our health care. “Racism and discrimination add other sources of stigma to marginalized populations already burdened with so many societal misconceptions and negative attitudes.” Her pioneering work on immigrant health and the reduction of risky behaviors is advancing the science of treating substance use disorders and improving mental health outcomes for diverse populations.

National Research Project Bundles Interventions to Make More Aggressive Gains in Black Women’s Health

Twelve sites awarded millions to bundle and scale HIV interventions across the country.

LOWELL, MA – March 25, 2021 – The University of Massachusetts Lowell, in collaboration with AIDS United, and the Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health (CISWH) at Boston University’s School of Social Work (BUSSW), have been tapped to lead a national, first-of-its-kind project to evaluate and disseminate bundled evidence-informed and trauma-informed interventions for Black women with HIV.

This work is particularly timely:

  • It comes on the heels of a year defined by race-based inequities in healthcare, political and social unrest, and increased calls for racial and social justice.
  • It supports key federal health initiatives, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) as well as the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Strategy to Address Intimate Partner Violence.
  • It includes a bundled intervention approach in recognition that multi-pronged strategies may more effectively address socio-cultural health determinants, expand utilization of services, and ultimately improve health outcomes for Black women.

According to the CDC, Black women represent 57% of all new HIV diagnoses among women. Black women also disproportionately experience violence, including intimate partner violence, at higher rates than other women, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research

“COVID-19 shined a light on health disparities in our country and the disproportionate burden in Black communities,” says Serena Rajabiun, principal investigator, UMass Lowell. “In the HIV field, we have long known this to be true. That is why funding for projects like this are so critical and why we need to keep researching innovative interventions to ensure equitable access, treatment, and outcomes for Black women.”

Through the Black Women First initiative, grant recipients implement at least two bundled interventions, which may include such focus areas as:

  • Enhanced patient navigation, case management or peer engagement
  • Red Carpet Care experience to address barriers to HIV care
  • Stigma reduction
  • Use of Trauma Informed Care
  • Self-efficacy, health literacy and resiliency
  • Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), sexual violence or other behavioral needs

Valerie Rochester, chief program officer at AIDS United adds, “The importance of this initiative cannot be understated.  Black women do not live single issue lives where health issues can be addressed using a cookie-cutter approach. The bundled intervention approach offers a unique opportunity to provide a range of proven strategies to support Black women, while including Black women in all aspects of this project from inception, execution, evaluation, and dissemination.”

This work is funded by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health Minority HIV/AIDS Fund (MHAF) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), HIV/AIDS Bureau, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part F: Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) and includes 12 grant recipients across the country:

  • Abounding Prosperity, Inc. in Dallas, TX
  • AccessMatters in Philadelphia, PA
  • AIDS Care Group in Chester, PA
  • AIDS Foundation of Chicago in Chicago, IL
  • AIDS Service Center of Lower Manhattan in New York, NY
  • City of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA
  • Grady Health System in Atlanta, GA
  • Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies in New Orleans, LA
  • Positive Impact Health Centers in Atlanta, GA
  • Quality Comprehensive Health Center in Charlotte, NC
  • UCSF Women’s HIV Program in San Francisco, CA
  • Volunteers of America, SE Louisiana in New Orleans, LA

UMass Lowell and CISWH lead the project’s evaluation activities, while AIDS United, in collaboration with the Black Women’s Health Imperative, will provide implementation expertise and technical assistance for the 12 grant recipient sites.

“When we look at the interventions,” says Rajabiun “not only will we be evaluating ‘how they work,’ we’ll also be looking at how to make them as turn-key as possible in order to get them into communities across the country that need them most and who serve at the frontlines of the HIV epidemic.”


About University of Massachusetts, Lowell (UML):
UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UML’s Center for Population Health’s mission and vision is to establish long-term interventions in diverse populations, that effectively reduce the prevalence of diseases and improve overall quality of health and well-being.

About AIDS United:
AIDS United has the singular mission of ending the HIV epidemic the United States through strategic grant-making, capacity building, and policy and advocacy. AIDS United bridges policy with grant-making and capacity building; linking the world of HIV service and community-based organizations with the public health, medical, advocacy and social justice communities to respond to the domestic HIV epidemic. Learn more about AIDS United here.

About the Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health at BUSSW
CISWH is dedicated to expanding the impact of social work in health care and public health in order to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations nationally and globally. CISWH seeks to improve outcomes, patient experience, and population health; reduce costs; and promote health equity and social justice. The Center supports social work leadership in health through cross-sector collaboration with public health, medicine, health economics, technology, and other relevant disciplines. The Center accomplishes its mission through research, community partnerships, policy development, and by providing technical assistance and educational opportunities. Learn more here.

Media Contacts: 

Serena Rajabiun, Principal Investigator
Ph: 978-934-3289
E-mail: [email protected]  

Valerie Rochester, Chief Program Officer
Ph: 202-876-2849
Email: [email protected]