Center for Health Equity & Engagement Research

Promoting equity in health and healthcare through innovative research, development and growth of researchers, and stakeholder engagement to transform population health.

Lori A. Bilello, Ph.D., M.B.A., M.H.S.
Fern J. Webb, Ph.D.
Caitlin Murphy, M.P.H., M.S.

The Center for Health Equity and Engagement Research, or CHEER, aligns with UF Health’s strategic priority to facilitate research that leads to greater health equity. The center is housed within the Office of Research Affairs at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.

What is health equity? Health equity means that everyone has a fair opportunity to reach their highest level of health. In Jacksonville and across the U.S., there are currently large and persistent gaps in health due to barriers in access to resources and services in a variety of areas, such as education, health care, jobs, and housing. To achieve health equity, we must consider individual needs and ensure access for everyone to good jobs, quality education, safe housing and neighborhoods, and quality and affordable healthcare.

CHEER is a central hub for research and community engagement activities that focus on improving equity, especially among underserved populations. It provides access to resources and expertise that foster research and education efforts to empower residents, clinicians, organizations and communities.

CHEER builds on a longstanding university commitment to promote health equity research using patient-centered and community engagement models. CHEER’s research focus is to:

  1. Better understand social determinants of health and underlying causes of health inequities that impact patients and the community.
  2. Design and evaluate interventions to mitigate those determinants.

For more information, contact the CHEER team at or 904-244-3193.

Key Goals

Advance Medicine and Population Health

  • Design, test, implement and evaluate interventions to improve equity in health care and health outcomes.
  • Increase understanding of the determinants that affect the quality and equity of health and health care.

Attain Operational and Financial Efficiency

  • Serve as a clearinghouse for proposed projects from Jacksonville and Gainesville researchers as well as from other organizations who are interested in working with key stakeholders from our various populations.

Enhance Communication and Marketing

  • Promote/market CHEER to the UF and wider stakeholder communities.

Recruit and Retain Top Talent

  • Recruit and educate key stakeholders including clinical faculty/staff and community partners on community participatory research approaches and partner with them on research projects that advance health equity.

Grow and Enhance Partnerships

  • Foster and engage a diverse network of researchers, clinicians, and key stakeholders in developing, expanding, and implementing a research agenda that addresses barriers to health equity.


CHEER collaborates with a variety of partners, both within the UF enterprise and in the broader community.

Health Care Excellence and Organizational Enrichment’s Mission is to cultivate a culture of excellence and a safe environment, where all individuals, experiences and differences are welcomed, valued and respected.

The University of Florida's Urban Health Alliance (UHA) was formed in 2019 to create access and opportunities for better community health. UHA seeks to bring organizations and individuals together to help create community-initiated, self-sustainable strategies and solutions by focusing on four key pillars:

  • Services – Identify and implement programs to address SDOH and reduce health disparities.
  • Education – Provide education and training opportunities in our community for individuals of all ages.
  • Research – Conduct and provide support for innovative research to improve health equity and outcomes in our community.
  • Policy – Provide empirical evidence to inform, create, and modify policies affecting population health.

UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) accelerates the translation of scientific discoveries into practice for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure of human disease.