The Interdisciplinary Health Equity Research Center

Researching Health Disparities to Advance Health Equity

The IHER Center seeks to investigate the biological, behavioral, and social determinants of health – factors which are understood as the largest contributors to differences in health and life expectancy among individuals and groups. Alongside the development of innovative interventions in addressing health disparities, strong partnerships between researchers and communities are central to ensuring the impact and sustainability of research center initiatives.

The IHER Center was established in 2022 as part of a five-year research grant awarded from the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program. In identifying Delaware as a socio-demographic microcosm of the U.S., DSU is ideally positioned to pursue high-impact social, behavioral, and biomedical research in the realm of health equity.

Delaware’s academic institutions, health care groups, community-based organizations, and the Division of Public Health are aligned in collaborating with DSU on IHER Center initiatives targeted at improving the health of Delawareans. Moreover, the IHER Center builds upon a growing portfolio of NIH-funded research and recently developed clinical facilities and programs.

IHER Core Centers

As a Historically Black University with a strength in biomedical and behavioral research, IHER will accelerate development of behavioral research capacity, deepen partnerships with other research centers in Delaware, and strengthen ties to the community. The Center’s Cores will fulfill these specific roles in making DSU the center of health disparities-related research in the state.

Research Capacity Core

This Core will strengthen DSU’s research infrastructure for biomedical, social and behavioral research related to health disparities and health equity.

Research Capacity Core

Dr. Derald Wentzien, Director

Investigator Development Core

The main focus of the investigator development core is to implement a program of pilot project grants that will support junior faculty as they establish research programs related to health disparities and collect preliminary data that can support future grant proposals.

Investigator Development Core

Dr. Brian McNaughtan, Director

Community Engagement & Dissemination (CED) Core

The overall goal of the CED Core is to embed a Community First in All Research (CFiAR) approach as a norm across the IHER Center to make research more impactful and responsive to community needs and priorities.

Community Engagement & Dissemination Core

Dr. Dorothy Dillard, Director

Recruitment Core

The Recruitment Core seeks to hire outstanding faculty members at the Associate or Full Professor level to contribute to developing excellence in DSU’s health equity research program. New faculty members will have active research programs supported by NIH or other external funding related to minority health and health disparities.

Dr. Gwendolyn Scott-Jones, Director

IHER Leadership

Dr. Melissa Harrington

Dr. Melissa Harrington

Principal Investigator (M-PI)

mharrington [at]

Dr. Sangeeta Gupta

Dr. Sangeeta Gupta

Principal Investigator (M-PI)

sgupta [at]


DSU researchers pose for a group photo
DSU receives NIH RCMI research grant in 2022, the largest in the University’s history
Dr. Brian McNaughton presents
Dr. Brian McNaughton presents at the April 2023 RCMI National Conference for his IHER research project on Triple Negative Breast Cancer
IHER researchers
IHER researchers attend the 2023 RCMI National Conference
DSU and CCUSA evaluation project group
DSU utilizes IHER support structure in partnering with Catholic Charities USA on the evaluation of their Healthy Housing Initiative