Research of Michele Allen

headshot of Michele AllenMichele Allen, MD, MS, conducts participatory research that focuses primarily on health promotion among youth, especially immigrant adolescents, in both family and school contexts.

As the Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research (PHDR), Dr. Allen promotes health equity through collaborative research, education, and community partnerships. She is particularly interested in transforming environments to make them youth-friendly and health promoting for adolescent populations.

For eleven years she has served as PI on Padres Informados/Jovenes Preparados, a community-based participatory research study that supports communication between immigrant Latino adolescents and their parents. The project, a partnership between the University and six community agencies, has been supported by several pilot grants as well as the National Cancer Institute, and its curriculum is being adapted for delivery in primary care by community health workers.

Dr. Allen also serves as Co-PI on Project TRUST, a 7-year partnership with SoLaHmo Partnership for Health and Wellness and Saint Paul Public Schools that promotes student-school connectedness and examines its impact as a social determinant of health. A three-part intervention comprises policy and procedure changes, parent participation, and teacher professional development. Achievement, wellness, and substance abuse are secondary outcomes.

 Underpinning these projects is Dr. Allen’s expertise in community engagement and the science of participatory research. She frequently publishes on the benefits and challenges of community-based participatory research, including a paper on concept mapping within Project TRUST and another on the methodological and design challenges within Padres Informados. Her primary goal, particularly as the leader of PHDR, is to highlight community voices within every aspect of research.

Dr. Allen also serves as PI and Director of the Cancer Related Health Disparities Training Program, a partnership between the Medical School and the School of Public Health that seeks to train researchers in interventions that reduce cancer-related health disparities among underresourced populations. This T32 training grant is funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Allen mentors and teaches in summer internship programs through PHDR and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). In addition, she does trainings for the Office of Public Engagement several times each year. As a family physician, Dr. Allen also sees patients at the Community-University Health Care Center.

Recent grant-funded studies

  • 2016-20, NIMHD, co-PI, "Participatory Trial of a Health Promoting School Approach to Positive Youth Development and Wellness Promotion"

See Dr. Allen's full bio