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New ADVOCATE Program Advances LGBTQ Clinical Health Equity

The Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) at Northwestern University is home to a new research program dedicated to clinical and translational health equity for sexual and gender minorities.

Led by Director Lauren Beach, Ph.D., J.D., and Associate Director Sumanas Jordan, M.D., PhD, the Advancing Opportunities in Clinical and Translational Equity in SGM Health Program, or ADVOCATE SGM Health Program, includes affiliate faculty from ISGMH, Northwestern Medicine, and Lurie Children’s Hospital.

“Our program is focused on building critical partnerships between clinicians in Northwestern’s hospital network and researchers studying sociobehavioral and public health throughout Northwestern. Our ultimate goal is building tools that help clinicians engage with LGBTQ health equity work and provide better LGBTQ patient care,” says Beach, Assistant Professor of Medical Social Sciences and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a core faculty member at ISGMH.

ADVOCATE will use health services and clinical informatics research to identify LGBTQ health disparities and to develop and implement community and patient engaged structural and health systems interventions that improve LGBTQ patient care to promote health equity.

“A key component of ADVOCATE’s mission is engaging with the LGBTQ community to better understand their clinical care needs and experiences. We want our research to translate into real-world practices and policies that have a positive impact on the health of LGBTQ patients,” says Jordan, Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine plastic surgeon specializing in gender-affirming surgery and transgender health care. Jordan is also Medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Gender Pathways Program.

Several NIH-funded projects currently underway form the primary work of the ADVOCATE Program, including Project Recognize, SSOGI Collect, and NM Chartered QI.

“I am incredibly excited to have this program launch,” says Beach. “There’s a need for all health systems across all specialties to engage in this work, and I see the possibilities as endless.”