Our Faculty Spotlight celebrates the institutional partners who make the vital connections that drive the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance’s (MVA) collaborative learning environment.
Jennifer Erves, PhD, MPH, MAED, MS, CHES, is a familiar face around the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA). Since moving to Nashville in 2013 to complete her postdoctoral training with the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core, her perennial involvement in MVA programming has helped the Alliance build community ties.
“The Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance supports the collaboration between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the community to support initiatives that seek to improve existing health disparities,” she says. “It serves as an information hub for researchers along the translational continuum, whether it is making connections with other researchers or helping researchers build trust and partnerships within the community to conduct research or serve in advisory capacities.”
Today, Dr. Erves is a member of the newly launched MVA Faculty Affiliate Program. She explains, “The transition to independent research can be challenging as one learns to navigate academia, build a research team, and establish collaborations.” Dr. Erves believes that the MVA provides invaluable support for researchers in all stages of their careers.
Addressing HPV Vaccine Hesitancy
Along with her collaborators at Meharry Medical Group Pediatrics and Vanderbilt DOT 8 Pediatrics, Dr. Erves is exploring ways to address human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine hesitancy among parents using a tailored communication application—a mobile phone-based tool that sends parents tailored pre-visit information to help them make informed decisions.
“Parents and providers do not always have time for these important conversations,” Erves explains. “We want to answer parents’ questions or help them identify questions to ask their providers about the HPV vaccine pre-visit.”
The hope is that this will lead to increased vaccine uptake and improved communication during patient-provider encounters.
Dr. Erves believes that findings from this project have the potential to transform how we educate parents about vaccines their children need.
With COVID-19 cases again rising across the country, Dr. Erves calls attention to a campaign in Davidson County for individuals who are undecided about the COVID-19 vaccine or are unsure whether they should get the booster.
“We have gone through an extensive process of working with community leaders, community members, a communication firm, and a multi-disciplinary research team to develop this campaign,” she says. “‘Your COVID Vax Facts’ is available to answer all your questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.”
About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance