Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 83, Issue 6, pp 1004–1012 | Cite as

The Art and Science of Integrating Undoing Racism with CBPR: Challenges of Pursuing NIH Funding to Investigate Cancer Care and Racial Equity

  • Michael A. YonasEmail author
  • Nora Jones
  • Eugenia Eng
  • Anissa I. Vines
  • Robert Aronson
  • Derek M. Griffith
  • Brandolyn White
  • Melvin DuBose


In this nation, the unequal burden of disease among People of Color has been well documented. One starting point to eliminating health disparities is recognizing the existence of inequities in health care delivery and identifying the complexities of how institutional racism may operate within the health care system. In this paper, we explore the integration of community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles with an Undoing Racism process to conceptualize, design, apply for, and secure National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to investigate the complexities of racial equity in the system of breast cancer care. Additionally, we describe the sequence of activities and “necessary conflicts” managed by our Health Disparities Collaborative to design and submit an application for NIH funding. This process of integrating CBPR principles with anti-racist community organizing presented unique challenges that were negotiated only by creating a strong foundation of trusting relationships that viewed conflict as being necessary. The process of developing a successful NIH grant proposal illustrated a variety of important lessons associated with the concepts of cultural humility and cultural safety. For successfully conducting CBPR, major challenges have included: assembling and mobilizing a partnership; the difficulty of establishing a shared vision and purpose for the group; the problem of maintaining trust; and the willingness to address differences in institutional cultures. Expectation, acceptance and negotiation of conflict were essential in the process of developing, preparing and submitting our NIH application. Central to negotiating these and other challenges has been the utilization of a CBPR approach.


Breast cancer Community-based participatory research  Health disparities Institutional racism. 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Yonas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nora Jones
    • 2
  • Eugenia Eng
    • 1
  • Anissa I. Vines
    • 3
    • 6
  • Robert Aronson
    • 4
  • Derek M. Griffith
    • 5
  • Brandolyn White
    • 3
  • Melvin DuBose
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Greensboro Health Disparities CollaborativeThe Partnership ProjectGreensboroUSA
  3. 3.Program on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health OutcomesUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of Public Health EducationUniversity of North CarolinaGreensboroUSA
  5. 5.Department of Health Behavior and Health EducationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  6. 6.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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