‘Research Made Possible’ Podcast: Schoenberg on Community-based Research

The best solutions begin when you listen to the people whose problems you’re trying to solve. That community-based focus — the crux of what Nancy Schoenberg, Ph.D., says is her approach as a medical anthropologist — has been a guiding value through her 25 years at the University of Kentucky. In this “Research Made Possible” podcast, Schoenberg shares what drives her work on diabetes and cancer in rural communities across Kentucky.

“We are not the experts. The experts are the people we are talking to, so we need to listen to people,” said Schoenberg, the Marion Pearsall Professor of Behavioral Science. “We need to honor that what they say is important in their lives, and why they do and don’t do things. And once we do that, then we can work with them to come up with evidence-based solutions.”

Since 2009, Schoenberg has served as principal investigator on more than $10.8 million in sponsored grants and contracts. She currently leads a mobile health research project, based on an intervention designed at Northwestern University, that targets healthy lifestyle choices.

In 2021, Schoenberg and Mark Dignan, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine, received $764,000 from the National Cancer Institute for Addressing Rural cancer Inequities through Scientific Excellence (ARISE) to train 10 postdoctoral researchers to address cancer-related health disparities in Appalachian Kentucky.

Schoenberg’s goal to train a diverse future workforce of clinicians and scientists is evidenced in her many roles: director of the Center for Health Equity Transformation (established in 2018 to enhance innovative, transdisciplinary and impactful research and training to improve the health of vulnerable Kentucky residents), co-developer and director of the Research Scholars Program (established in 2021 to ensure diversity and inclusion in research by promoting faculty success), associate vice president for research in research professional development and associate director at the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences.