HEDL Research Projects

The Health Equity Data Lab, generously supported by Accenture, funds innovative research projects focused on the lab’s pillars, including health literacy, health access, precision social determinants of health, and health equity indicators identified through the Forum. These projects are led by interdisciplinary teams of researchers and community partners who collaborate to transform health and well-being in the South Bend – Elkhart region and beyond.

Current projects

Indigenous Cancer Disparities: Multi-Modal Data Integration

Project Leaders: Meenal Datta and Margaret Traeger

Departments: Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering | Department of IT, Analytics, and Operations

This project focuses on understanding the role of racial disparities and social determinants of health in cancer incidence and outcomes among Indigenous populations. Dr. Datta and Dr. Traeger, along with their team, employ a variety of data science techniques including social network analysis, bioinformatics, and machine learning to investigate this critical issue.

Emergency Room Usage and Hospitalization Study

Project Leader: Margaret Pfeil

Departments: Department of Theology | Center for Social Concerns

Community Partners: Donald Zimmer, MD, Memorial Hospital Emergency Department; Katharine Callaghan, MD, Associate Director of Family Medicine Residency Program at Memorial Hospital; Sheila McCarthy, Director of Motels4Now at Our Lady of the Road.

In collaboration with community partners, this project evaluates the impact of the emergency low-barrier housing program, Motels4Now, on participant Emergency Room usage and hospitalization rates at Memorial Hospital. The research team aims to shed light on the effectiveness of this program in improving the well-being of its participants.

Bridging the Data Gap Between Parental Adversity and Infant Health Outcomes

Project Leader: Theodore Beauchaine

Department: Department of Psychology

Community Partners: Mark Fox, MD, Associate Dean of the Indiana School of Medicine South Bend and Deputy Health Officer at the St. Joseph County Department of Health; Kimberly Green Reeves, Executive Director of Community Impact at Beacon Health System; Cassy White, Lead Project Specialist at Beacon Community Impact.

Working closely with community partners, this project seeks to address health-related social needs and risks for pregnant individuals, infants, and families in St. Joseph County. The team is focused on integrating data from various local healthcare providers and building predictive models to identify parental social determinants of health.

Housing – Health Equity Nexus: Better Housing as Health Risk Mediator (HOUSE4HEALTH)

Project Leaders: Ming Hu and Chaoli Wang

Departments: School of Architecture | Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Community Partners: Collaborating with local South Bend community organizations.

This project collaborates with South Bend community organizations to develop a machine learning-aided model to assess built environment indicators related to climate change-accelerated health risks, with a specific focus on housing conditions. The research aims to contribute to a healthier living environment.