Reflecting on values-driven research

What’s next for PPHC in 2023?

When our team the People, Place & Health Collective at Brown University early last year, we envisioned an approach to research that is values-driven and community-engaged. On this, the winter solstice and shortest day of the year, I’m reflecting on how far we’ve come to make this not just a statement of purpose but an enacted reality.

Since founding the People, Place & Health Collective (PPHC) in February 2021, we’ve launched new projects, grown our team, and deepened relationships with our community partners. Members of our team have been working with the Rhode Island Department of Health to identify areas hard hit by the pandemic but have been left behind in vaccination and testing efforts. , led by collective member and assistant professor , gives community members engaged in vaccination and testing efforts on the ground the real time data they need to close these disparities.

Real time, community-based communication is a theme of some of the work we’ve been doing this year. , a project launched by collective member and assistant professor alongside assistant professor of medicine, Dr. , is a project that tests drug samples across the state to see what is in the street drug supply. Half way through the project, 90 samples have been tested and these results have been promptly communicated in the form of , , and . The project also has an ethnographic component where people who use drugs are interviewed about their experiences using drugs in a time of uncertainty in the supply, more to come on that in the new year.

We’re also looking at the intersections between technology and treatment. This year, we launched Mobile Peer Support, a study led by our co-director Dr. and Dr. . This trial is studying the use of a mobile app for people who receive treatment or recovery supports for opioid use disorder, and is recruiting people from Rhode Island and across the United States.

None of this would be possible without our team’s outstanding and dedicated research staff, who lead some of our flagship projects such as and manage our day-to-day operations, bringing innovation, passion, and creativity to the work. Our team members have also taken on new roles within the Brown University School of Public Health, including , an assistant professor of the practice, who leads the school’s academic programs as our assistant dean for education. I’m extraordinarily proud of our entire team for the positive impact they’re having at Brown, in communities across Rhode Island, and beyond.

What’s next for PHPC in 2023?

We’re committed to strengthening our values and conducting research that’s aligned with our key mission: connecting rigorous research methods with meaningful community engagement to improve the health of all Rhode Islanders. We are extraordinarily grateful for our community-based collaborations and state agency partnerships, which are truly the foundation for the research that we do. One of our key priorities in 2023 is to further support these partnerships by creating more leadership and research opportunities for people with lived experience and those from historically underrepresented groups.

While our values remain the same, we’ll be launching new, ambitious research projects in 2023. Alongside our community partners and in collaboration with our colleagues at , our team will be leading an evaluation of some of the first sanctioned in the United States. We are planning a rigorous evaluation held to the highest scientific standards, and will be evaluating the impact of overdose prevention centers on people’s health and communities. We are committed to centering the voices of people who use drugs and those with lived experience at all stages of the research, and will approach all aspects of this work with an equity and racial justice lens. Be sure to follow us on , and , as more information on opportunities to participate in this exciting new research will be coming soon.

Third, we’re doubling down on in novel and impactful ways. Public health communication isn’t just an afterthought at the end of our research projects, but a central component of our research and a core part of what we do. In addition to further expanding our social media presence, look out for a new team website early in 2023.

Finally, we’re also taking our research team off campus and into the community! This January we’ll be moving into a in South Providence, which will help us connect with our partners and further support our community-engaged work. I’m so excited to welcome all of you to 66 Pavilion Avenue; stay tuned for more information on a celebration and open house!

I am so proud of our many achievements this year, and am indebted to our entire team of students, postdocs, faculty, and staff who do the hard work of making a values-driven research agenda a reality. Happy holidays friends, and may 2023 bring peace, prosperity, and health equity for all.

Yours sincerely,




Public health research that is people centered, place oriented, & data driven. We study drugs, infectious diseases + intersecting epidemics.

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Brandon DL Marshall, PhD

I am an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health. Read about my team’s work here: