Northwestern University officials announced, on Feb. 29, that they've launched the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, which will be the first university-wide research institute in the U.S. focused on LGBT Health.
The mission of the institute is to connect scholars across disciplines to create collaborations and stimulate new research that will improve the health of LGBT people across their lifespans, according to a statement.
"This new institute represents Northwestern and Feinberg's commitment to support breakthrough research that improves the lives of LGBT people everywhere," said Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "We want to be a leader in reducing health inequalities in LGBT communities."
The institute will be headed up by Brian Mustanski, associate professor of Medical Social Sciences. He told Windy City Times that it would serve as a center for research on numerous issues pertaining to the LGBT community.
"While we have seen great progress in areas such as marriage equality, part of the reason for the institute is our community experiences inequity in a number of areas around health," Mustanski said.
The institute will focus not only on what drives those inequities, but formulating solutions to combat them. Among its initial components are the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program which conducts research exploring development of sexual orientation and gender identity; the Evaluation, Data Integration and Technical Assistance Program, which analyzes health interventions focused on sexual and gender minorities, particularly ones focused on HIV; and the Complex Systems and Health Disparities Research Program, which focuses on mechanisms driving health disparities in stigmatized populations.
Mustanski said that a steering committee is under development, and that aging, women's health and transgender health issues would likely be among the foci of programming in the future.
"This is a visionary development for Northwestern," he added. "The big opportunity here is to forge collaborations across the entire university."