The vision of the UK-CARES Community Engagement Core (CEC) is to grow, maintain, and enhance strong, sustained, multidirectional community-academic partnerships in Appalachia Kentucky. These partnerships will help foster meaningful community engagement, increase environmental health literacy, reduce health risks, and decrease health disparities in the region. To support and achieve this vision, the CEC team developed the aims listed below:

  • Increase awareness in the local community about environmental health research being conducted by UK-CARES.

  • Increase community and stakeholder participation in community-engaged research (CEnR) to identify and communicate environmental concerns in the community to UK-CARES investigators.

  • Increase enrollment in citizen and academic training in science communication to leverage community-academic environmental health science partnerships.

Center Integration and Impact

The CEC will use multidirectional communication as it guides Center members in developing research activities in partnership with community stakeholders to address community concerns. The CEC is a central part of the UK-CARES structure and decision-making processes in three major ways.

  • First, the CEC is tightly integrated into UK-CARES’ cores, programs, and strategic vision with direct impact on community-informed Center decision making. Community interests and concerns are identified and communicated both formally and informally.
  • Second,  applications for Pilot Project Program (PPP) funds will require inclusion of plans for engaging the community and for report back. In addition, CEC partner organizations and collaborators will be eligible to apply for PPP grants. As many of these CEC partners may not have strong track records in extramural support, the CEC will facilitate faculty mentorship by fostering partnerships between UK investigators and CEC partners.
  • Third, CEC leadership will work with the Career Development (CD) Program, Integrated Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC), Analytical Core (AC), and PPP to ensure integration of community-engaged research (CEnR) methods to support translational research that is sensitive to the needs and concerns of the community. To this end, we will require pilot grantees to complete our new, online Responsible Conduct of CEnR training module. Further, CEC will work with investigators to create tailored community engagement strategies to report back research findings.

Faculty and Staff


Mark B Dignan, PhD, MPH

Positions Held:
  • Core Lead
Photo of Kennoy

Kelly Kennoy

Positions Held:
  • CEC Program Coordinator