Community Engagement Core

The vision for the Community Engagement Core (CEC) is to serve as the information and communication axis for GC-CPEH stakeholder and target audiences. Our mission is to facilitate translation of Center science, increase environmental health literacy, and build relationships that will lead to research responsive to our communities’ needs.

Our ultimate goal is to improve community awareness and understanding of environmental health issues while assisting researchers to understand those concerns of importance to the community and thus inform their scientific studies.


The CEC will coordinate different programs and activities, serving as a link between the GC-CPEH and community, including:

Mobile-Clinical for Outreach And Community Health (Mobi-COACH)

Our Mobile Clinical Research Unit (Mobi-COACH) is a modified 32’ 2005 Winnebago Journey 32T powered by a 300-horsepower Cummins® diesel engine as well as a solar-powered charger.  The vehicle also includes a 7,500-watt Onan Quiet Diesel generator to power the vehicle when it is stationary as well as a converter charger and charge connector to enable recharging of batteries via shore power.  Included are RV leveling jacks, patio and front entrance awnings, slide-out toppers, dual pane windows, air horns, satellite dish and elevation sensor, six-way power driver seat, passenger seat with footrest, rearview monitoring system, water purification system, and new tires. 

The vehicle has been retrofitted to include a phlebotomy lab that satisfies clinical laboratory facility regulations, including replacement of all permeable surfaces with materials resistant to biological contamination.  The lab includes a regulation phlebotomy chair as well as countertop space sufficient for a mounted centrifuge to process drawn blood.  Also included is a fully functional freezer for storage of samples and multiple, locking storage units for caching of supplies (blood tubes, gowns, gloves, sharps containers, alcohol wipes, urine sample cups, etc.). 

The vehicle also includes a full-sized restroom for collection of urine samples.  A propane unit provides hot water for handwashing and clean-up activities. The vehicle has a separate room that has been similarly retrofitted as an examination room with an examination table for the medical doctor to conduct physical assessments of research subjects.  

The vehicle has been inspected by an off-site professional as well as the UTMB Fleet Services Division to ensure compliance with all state and federal laws.  It is fully ensured by the University of Texas System. The MCRU will provide facilities, equipment, and staff resources to support a variety of clinical studies at research sites across the UTMB facilities and in community settings.  Through a single point of contact, investigators may request use of these facilities, equipment and staff resources to support their research.

SCI Cafes (where Sciences and Communities Interact)

SCI Cafes are hosted by the CEC staff and center members at local cafes. Community members are invited to join to informally discuss topics of interest or concern. Example topics include Disaster Research Response, Healthy Homes, Military Exposures and Veterans Health, Environmental Health Policy and Me, and Asthma and Respiratory Disease.  SCI Cafes are hosted monthly at various venues. Click here to for the upcoming SCI Cafes.

Environmental Justice Encuentro

The EJ Encuentro is a gathering of community members to discuss environmental health concerns and exchange ideas. The CEC is organizing a series of mini-Encuentros in targeted neighborhoods (with the option to join remotely) with the help of local EJ organizations. These meetings will address health disparities and issues of environmental justice and social justice. The Encuentros offer a platform to discuss disparities and inequities, taking into account all social determinants of health. Together, we will identify issues and prioritize solutions from a neighborhood perspective. This is an opportunity to hear diverse perspectives, including discussions on the impact of COVID-19. These meetings, along with informal SAB gatherings, will help us prepare for a more formal SAB meeting with the Center leadership.

Community Health Needs Assessments

  • Health of Houston Survey: The Health of Houston Survey is the largest health survey of adults and children in Harris County and the City of Houston. The survey is a valuable source of statistics on health, health care and insurance, cancer screening, mental health, health behaviors and neighborhood conditions at county, city and neighborhood levels. Dr. Steve Linder, Co-Director of the CEC, leads this effort through the Institute for Health Policy at the UTHealth School of Public Health. The Institute conducted the first Health of Houston survey in 2010 and the second in 2018.
  • Ascertaining the Medical Needs of Galveston County: The CEC conducted a community health needs assessment to characterize the medical needs of the Galveston community. Specifically, we sought to characterize the current and past state of health of the Galveston population, the services provided and where accessed, gaps in services, and the barriers preventing people from accessing care and/or being healthy. A report was prepared presenting data on measures designed to summarize information about given priority topics in population health or health system performance. Health indicators provide comparable and actionable information across different geographic, organizational or administrative boundaries and/or can track progress over time. With a clearer picture of the medical and other needs impacting health and health care access for the community, stakeholders are enabled to prioritize issues and make evidence-based decisions and contributions to the improvement of community care.

Training Initiatives

The CEC seeks to enhance Community-Based Participatory Research through Community Engagement and Community-Based Participatory Research Training.


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Cite the Center

Please remember to cite center in your publications.

“Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P30ES030285. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.”