About CEAL

CEAL at a Glance

CEAL's Mission

To provide trustworthy information through active community engagement and outreach to the people hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the goal of building long-lasting partnerships as well as improving diversity and inclusion in our research response to COVID-19.

Where CEAL Teams Are Working

CEAL Teams are currently working in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, DC Metro Area, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Texas.

Coordinating COVID-19 Trial Networks

  • Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV)
  • COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) 
  • Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx SM)
  • Collaborating Network of Networks for Evaluating COVID-19 and Therapeutic Strategies (CONNECTs)

Areas of Focus


How CEAL Works

CEAL research teams focus in two areas:

  1. Supporting and expanding community outreach  
  2. Establishing communication networks

Doctor and patient during consultation.

Supporting and expanding community outreach

CEAL will work to support and expand existing NIH community outreach efforts already underway through COVID-19 trial networks, such as ACTIV (treatments), RADx (diagnostics) and COVPN (vaccines).

The Alliance does this work through NIH-funded research programs that existed before the pandemic and have a track record of research that improves the health of racially and ethnically diverse communities. 

Through CEAL’s research teams, NIH will identify and connect with some of the hardest-hit communities, including those who might otherwise not be reached through COVID-19 clinical research recruitment sites.

Patient on virtual conference with doctors.

Establishing communication networks

CEAL will work to establish communication networks across available channels and through engagement with trusted organizations and people. 

This will make it easier to share accurate and trustworthy information about the virus, how to reduce its spread, and how to protect people, families and their communities.

Inclusion of a diverse mix of people in COVID-19 trials remains essential, also, for developing  vaccines and other treatments that are safe and effective for everyone.    

In addition to information about the virus, it is important to encourage people in places where COVID-19 has caused more sickness and death to join testing, treatment, vaccine, and other COVID-19 research studies, using messages and channels that speak to them.

How CEAL is Funded

In September 2020, the National Institutes of Health announced an award for outreach and engagement efforts in ethnically and racially diverse communities that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eleven research teams were established as part of the NIH’s CEAL Alliance and received $17 million in grants to reach residents at risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. 

In April 2021, to bolster research to help communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the NIH is funding $29 million in additional grants. This funding was supported by the American Rescue Plan. The awards provide $15 million to the 11 teams already conducting research and outreach to help strengthen COVID-19 vaccine confidence and access, as well as testing and treatment, in communities of color. An additional $14 million will fund 10 new research teams to extend the reach of COVID-19 community-engaged research and outreach.

As teams within the CEAL Alliance personalize these outreach strategies, they will also share their findings with each other and the broader community of those working to move the country past the pandemic. 

CEAL Team Principal Investigators and Institutions

CEAL research teams share a goal of quickly launching outreach efforts to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable populations and to evaluate these efforts through community-engaged research.

Mona N. Fouad, M.D., M.P.H.
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Sairam Parthasarathy, M.D.
University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson

Pearl McElfish, Ph.D.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock

Arleen F. Brown, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles

Donald Nease, M.D.
University of Colorado Denver

Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H.
University of Miami

Tabia Henry Akintobi, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta

Molly Martin, M.D. 
University of Illinois at Chicago

Marie A. Krousel-Wood, M.D.
Tulane University, New Orleans 

Cheryl Himmelfarb, Ph.D., R.N.
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

Benjamin Linas, M.D.
Boston Medical Center

Erica Marsh, M.D.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Caroline Compretta, Ph.D.
University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson

Matthew Kreuter, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Washington University in St. Louis

Lisa Cacari Stone, Ph.D.
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Chau Trinh-Shevrin, DrPH
New York University School of Medicine, New York City

Anissa I. Vines, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

José Arturo Bauermeister, Ph.D., M.P.H.
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Vivian Colón-López, Ph.D., M.P.H.
University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences

Paul Juarez, Ph.D.
Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee

Jamboor Vishwanatha, Ph.D.
University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth

Linda Squiers, Ph.D.
Technical Lead
Technical and Administrative Support and Coordination (TASC)
RTI International


Partnering with Communities

You can find more information on how CEAL is working with communities to address COVID-19 in our CEAL Fact Sheet (PDF, 1.04MB).

NIH COVID-19 Response

The leadership and expertise of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) drives CEAL’s NIH-wide community engagement effort focused on addressing the major impacts of COVID-19 on specific communities.

For more information on the larger NIH response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the NIH coronavirus page.

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