The Health Disparities Research Lab (HDRL) is focused on conducting research on the intersections of interpersonal health communication, chronic and end-stage kidney disease, and organ donation and transplantation. Across these areas of research, the primary goals have been to improve the organ and tissue donation processes, reduce disparities in rates of donation and transplantation for underserved and marginalized groups, and increase access to transplantation in the United States.
Through multiple federally-funded research studies, our work has included evaluation of hospital development and behavioral communication interventions to increase family authorization to solid organ donation; design and evaluation of interventions to increase rates of donor designation among Asian Americans and Latin populations; examination the ethical, legal and social issues of organ and tissue donation for transplantation and medical research/biobanking purposes; development and evaluation of an educational and behavioral communication intervention for kidney transplant candidates; and, studies to understand perceptions of and increase donation vascularized composite allografts. More recently, has been funded to host a Symposium on Obesity and Kidney Transplant and to develop a decision aid for potential living kidney donors of African American and Afro-Latinx descent considering genetic testing as part of the medical evaluation for donation.
The HDRL is directed by Dr. Heather Gardiner. Dr. Gardiner has over 15 years’ experience in the field of organ donation and transplantation. She is a tenured associate professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Temple University. She is the recipient of a Career Development Award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop and test an educational and communication skills intervention for patients with end stage renal disease who are awaiting kidney transplantation. Dr. Gardiner has a strong record of externally funded research for which community engagement remains a core component.