Translational Science in Schools

About the School Based Research and Practice Network (SBRPN)

The School Based Research and Practice Network (SBRPN) investigated the research interests of schools, and studied how research can best be conducted in schools. It found that schools have a broad range of research interests. School staff members are curious about how research can help them help their students. This curiosity would make them excellent partners in the research process. Most school districts have little research being conducted, with the major exception being the Pittsburgh Public Schools. This suggests that there are many opportunities to work with schools. Most schools are very open to consideration of projects if they feel they are appropriate and designed with student improvement and wellness in mind. Schools would like to have effective solutions to the problems they confront.

All schools would like to see research that:

  1. Minimizes disruption of students;
  2. Minimizes use of class time;
  3. Creates little/no work for the school staff;
  4. Has clearly appropriate consent processes;
  5. Maintains strict confidentiality; and
  6. Has direct and obvious value to the school and district.

Some schools have expressed concerns about research, but through open and honest communication it may be possible to work with any school district. Schools have expressed concerns about surveys,‖ especially ones associated with market research. Some will not allow surveys. Schools can be valuable partners in the design of research projects when they are engaged as co-participants, especially for projects that are in the planning, design, and application process.

As of the end of 2010, SBRPN had met and established contacts with nearly all 43 Allegheny County school districts, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, plus a number of private schools and schools in the surrounding counties. Collaborations involving 15 investigators, five private institutions, and 30 districts representing more than 150 schools have begun. Projects include studies of influenza prevention, respiratory disease transmission, anxiety disorders, environmental factors affecting childhood asthma, parenting strategies, autism, sleep education, and concussion evaluation.

The Network was started with support from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

Important Reports

  1. A Research Agenda For Schools In Allegheny County: A Policy And Practice White Paper
  2. Update to the University Community
  3. Vukotich, CJ Jr and Stebbins S, Schoold and Research: Are They Interested? The Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Experience, ERS Spectrum, 29(4) Fall, 2011 pp29-35

For More Information, Contact

Chuck Vukotich, Project Director, or call 412-383-2400