Engaged Scholars: Darryl Hood

Photo of Darryl Hood

Engaged Scholars: Darryl Hood

November 2021

Engaged Scholars is a monthly series highlighting Ohio State faculty who have made an impact in our communities through their community-engaged research and teaching.

Darryl B. Hood, Ph.D.
Division of Environmental Health Sciences, College of Public Health/Department of Neuroscience, College of Medicine

The first 20-years of Dr. Hood's career were spent at Meharry Medical College, which is located in an extremely poor census tract in Nashville. There, he became sensitized to the plight of residents in vulnerable communities. At Ohio State, Dr. Hood has continued his innovation in discovery as co-architect of the novel Public Health Exposome framework and analytics. This paradigm-altering framework interrogates hypotheses focused on determining if there are associations between the built, natural and social environment and disparate health outcomes observed in vulnerable populations. The paradigm is extremely relevant to the disparities that are being documented during the current COVID-19 syndemic. Looking forward, Dr. Hood will continue to build on his previous success to enhance environmental public health research in the high risk and vulnerable, underrepresented minority communities of Columbus using the E6= Enriching Environmental Endeavors via e-Equity, Education and Empowerment community engagement approach. It is within that context that Dr. Hood will investigate synergistic hypotheses leading to increased COVID-19 risk trajectory for the already vulnerable populations in Near East side neighborhoods. The functional interdisciplinary, community-based research stakeholder team that he has brought together will address these issues from Ohio State's African American and African Studies Community Extension Center.

Why is it important to engage the community in your research and teaching?

In order to be at the forefront of exemplary applied learning and teaching pedagogy and as it relates to environmental justice communities, we must know firsthand the challenges that face these vulnerable communities.

What led you to the path of engaged scholarship? How did you get started?

During my time at both Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine, from 1993-2013, I received over $11.2 million of research funding. These research projects served as the impetus for the development of an independent, investigator-initiated research program where my long-term goal was to determine the operative mechanisms in exposure-induced dysregulation of central nervous system development to impact learning and memory processes. I was then blessed with the opportunity to lead what has come to be known as the most successful Minority S11 NIEHS-sponsored initiative, which is now referred to as the "Advanced Research Cooperation in Environmental Health (ARCH) Program." The specific title of this program project-like activity was "Mechanisms of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Toxicity." The research conducted under this consortium ultimately contributed to the scientific database that the USEPA used to re-assess the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emissions from smokestacks. Such re-assessments have resulted in public policy changes that have served to decrease the adverse health effects associated with environmental exposures.

As it were, the path to community engaged scholarship began in the laboratory. Now my career is about connecting the dots between molecular level mechanisms and place-based disparate health outcomes in vulnerable populations. Over the past eigh years, my interdisciplinary community-based research stakeholder team has conducted and published research in peer-reviewed journals from several high-risk communities in Columbus. We implemented our Public Health Exposome framework with analytics in those studies to address hypotheses around racial and cultural disparities. Our studies suggest that community led stakeholder coalitions, in collaboration with academia, FQHCs, Medicare providers, mental health and K5 learning centers, can be effective and have the potential to be transformational. Our framework effectively addresses concerns relevant to the manifestation of structural inequalities and social and environmental justice issues that have been hypothesized to contribute to longstanding disparate health outcomes in vulnerable populations that live in close proximity to sources of chemical and non-chemical stressors.

How has your scholarship benefited from engaging with community partners?

Functional, community-based research stakeholder teams that are engaged in true partnerships with residents from high-risk and vulnerable communities will come to be a foundational staple in community healthcare models of the future. My interdisciplinary stakeholder research group is at the forefront of this. Therefore, my scholarship will benefit immensely from developing our E6 model because much remains to be documented from communities that are wrought with chemical and non-chemical stressor exposures, that when coupled with individual behavioral and inherent characteristics, their effects are propagated over the life-course. Extension and application of our concept will be scalable and translatable to like urban communities around the U.S.

What has been a highlight of your community engagement experience?

My selection as the Autumn 2019 African American and African Studies Community Extension Center Engaged Scholar Fellow has been the highlight of the environmental justice work that I do on the Southside and Near East Side communities of Columbus. This came full circle as we completed the design of a demonstration study based on the three community meetings that took place from November 2019 through February 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic came upon us.

The hub of community based participatory research activity in zip code 43203 on the Near East side of Columbus, is the African American and African Studies Community Extension Center (AAAS-CEC) located at 905 Mt. Vernon Ave. Recently, former Executive Vice President and Chancellor of Health Sciences Dr. Harold Paz, introduced Ohio State and the Columbus community in general to E6= Enriching Environmental Endeavors via e-Equity, Education and Empowerment. E6 is the community engagement approach that we utilize to educate, advocate for, and empower residents in high-risk census tracts. To conduct the work that we will describe in our CCTS Pilot Community Engagement Research project we will utilize the aforementioned functional, interdisciplinary, community-based research stakeholder team to address disparate health outcomes on the Near East Side. Our team has been working in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood located in zip code 43203 over the past two years for the purpose of interrogating hypotheses pertaining to disparities in education, housing, and health using our novel Public Health Exposome framework that includes Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) analytics.

  • What was the purpose and goal of the E6 community meeting?
    • The purpose and goal of E6 was to bring about awareness and educate residents by having an open forum discussion with residents of the King-Lincoln district and Mt. Vernon community. Since disparate health outcomes are extremely high in these neighborhoods, we felt a responsibility to this community to attempt to improve the health and well-being of these Mt. Vernon residents. In particular, we discussed surveying potential environmental hazards that are in close proximity to where these residents live, work, play and pray. Awareness and education was brought about by creating effective partnerships between stakeholders such as the CareSource, Primary One Health, Columbus Early Learning Centers, Pitzer Center for Children, Youth and Women, College of Nursing and College of Public Health in conjunction with the Department of African American and African Studies.
  • What were the expected outcomes of the community meetings?
    • The expected outcome of the first meeting was creation of a blueprint of concerns from the residents that were focused on addressing disparate health outcomes in the King-Lincoln District in consideration of chemical and non-chemical stressor exposures from the built, natural, physical and social environment. This led (over the next two community meetings) to drafting in a collaborative manner a demonstration project that serves as the basis for the USEPA STAR grant proposal that we are submitting on November 16, 2021.

What advice would you give to faculty and students who are interested in engaging the community in their scholarship?

Faculty members should contact the Office of Outreach and Engagement, Center for Clinical and Translational Science and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion's Creative Expression Committee to receive guidance on which faculty work in what areas then seek those faculty members out for collaboration and or mentoring.

Sample Engaged Scholarship

Chinonso N. Ogojiaku, Allen, JC, Anson-Dwamena, R., Barnett, K. S., Adetona, O. Im, W. Hood, D. B. The health opportunity index: understanding the input to disparate health outcomes in vulnerable and high-risk census tracts. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5767; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165767

Paul D. Juarez, Mohammad Tabatabai, R. Burciaga Valdez, Darryl B. Hood, Wansoo Im, Charles Mouton, Cynthia Colen, Mohammad Z. Al-Hamdan, Patricia Matthews-Juarez, Maureen Y. Lichtveld, Daniel Sarpong, Aramandla Ramesh, Michael A. Langston, Gary L. Rogers, Charles A. Phillips, John F. Reichard, Macarius M. Donneyong and William Blot. The Effects of Social, Personal, and Behavioral Risk Factors and PM2.5 on Cardio-Metabolic Disparities in a Cohort of Community Health Center Patients. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 May 19;17(10): 3561.doi: 10.3390/ijerph17103561. PMID: 3243869

Cifuentes P, Reichard J, Im W, Smith S, Colen C, Giurgescu C, Williams KP, Gillespie S, Juarez PD, Hood DB. Application of the Public Health Exposome Framework to Estimate Phenotypes of Resilience in a Model Ohio African-American Women's Cohort. J Urban Health. 2019. Mar;96 (Suppl. 1):57-71. doi: 10.1007/s11524-018-00338-w. PMID:30758792.

John F. Obrycki, Tyler Serafini, Darryl B. Hood, Chris Alexander, Pam Blais, Nicholas T. Basta. Using Public Health Data for Soil Pb Hazard Management. Ohio J Public Health Manag. Pract. 2017 Jan 11. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000488. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28079647.

Jiao Y, Bower JK, Im W, Basta N, Obrycki J, Al-Hamdan MZ, Wilder A, Bollinger CE, Zhang T, Hatten, L Sr, Hatten J, Hood DB. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Dec 22; 13(1): ijerph13010011. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13010011. PMID:26703664.

Yuqin Jiao, Wansoo Im, Nicholas Basta, John Obrycki et al., 2015. Development of Educational PPGIS Risk-Communication Tools and Application to Evaluating Urban Soils J. Comm Med. 2015, 1(1): 007. http://jacobspublishers.com/index.php/journal-of- community-medicine-current-edition.

Stokes SC, Hood DB, Zokovitch J, Close FT. Blueprint for communicating risk and preventing environmental injustice. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2010 Feb;21(1):35-52. PubMed PMID: 20173254.

Development of a Public Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS) Portal to Communicate Risk from Potential Exposure to Airborne Environmental Contaminants in a Vulnerable Columbus, OH Community

Hood, Darryl B. (2015-05-06)

The purpose of the study is to integrate PPGIS to encourage Columbus community members to utilize the findings in future risk communication of possible adverse health outcomes from environmental exposures. Soil sampling ...

Application of Citizen Science Risk Communication Tools in a Vulnerable Urban Community

Hood, Darryl B. (2016-05-03)

A public participatory geographical information systems (PPGIS) demographic, environmental, socioeconomic, health status portal was developed for the Stambaugh-Elwood community in Columbus, OH. A soil study was conducted ...

E6=Enhancing Environmental Enterprises via e-Equity, Education and Empowerment

Hood, Darryl B. (2017-05-03)

While Columbus, Ohio is considered one of the more prosperous, well-educated and progressive communities in the United States, it has one of the highest infant mortality (IM) rates in the country. The Stambaugh-Elwood (SE) ...