Public health research on the LGBT+ population in the United States is growing, from new findings in HIV prevention and treatment to looking into disparities in access to care during and after the pandemic. So why aren’t more queer researchers involved in shaping this developing field?
Noah Mancuso, a PhD candidate at Emory Rollins School of Public Health, wanted a say in who was doing the research that affected him and his community. He started Queer Health Collaborative (QHC) to bridge the gap between researchers and the people they study. Queer Health Collaborative brings together consultants’ lived LGBT+ experience with their public health expertise to provide tailored services for research and other health projects.
Influencing Atlanta and Beyond
“One big problem we are working to solve is the stigma experienced by queer people when they try to access health care,” Mancuso said. “The projects we are working on are trying to address these gaps for the queer community.”
Noah, along with the twelve consultants on his team, is driven by the impact Queer Health Collaborative will have on the policies developed from their research. QHC is currently working on a project that uses mobile health technology to increase access to healthcare by collaborating with community members. Another project is addressing racial and ethnic disparities in HIV treatment/prevention outcomes among queer men, specifically within Latinx communities. The next goal for QHC is to grow their portfolio of projects, both in number and reach.
“I would love to have more queer people employed in this field and I would love to be able to maybe do this full time,” added Mancuso, who currently balances the growing consulting firm with his academic schedule. “Once I’m done with school, I plan to build our network beyond Emory to a more national scope. It would also be cool to go international, with my background in global health.”
Creating the Collaborative
While participating in HIV research in Malawi and in the United States, Mancuso realized he wanted to lead these kinds of critical projects. However, he didn’t see many queer people in leadership positions in his field. This led him to pursue higher education with his master’s and now PhD at Emory, where he found support from faculty, researchers, and co-curricular programs.
Noah began working on the idea for Queer Health Collaborative with a microgrant program at The Hatchery, the Emory Center for Innovation. He continued building the startup in The Hatchery Summer Incubator, during which he grew his team of consultants and secured contracts with academic and research institutions, as well as state and local governmental health agencies.
QHC’s consulting model utilizes principles of human-centered design to collaboratively engage with the LGBT+ community. Not only are they involved in the research, but community members make up the team doing the research. Each of the QHC consultants identify as LGBT+ and guide the work from their lived experience.
“We can be the ones in charge of everything from ideation to implementation to analysis,” Noah expressed. “It’s an exciting thing to see so many young queer people getting involved, interested and supported.”
Want to connect with Noah? While the company’s website is under construction, you can send an email here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Hilderbrandt is the Innovation Program Coordinator at The Hatchery, Emory’s Center for Innovation, where she works with exceptional student founders in The Hatchery Incubator. Kate‘s core values of curiosity and connection have heavily influenced her career, leading her to curate skills across multiple roles and industries, such as coaching, writing, branding, training and development, non-profit leadership, film and television production, and innovation. You can follow her on LinkedIn to start a conversation about innovation strategy, storytelling, or coaching.