Penn School of Nursing has launched a research-based social entrepreneurship lab dedicated to supporting the health of LGBTQ populations.
The Eidos LGBT+ Health Initiative is a part of Penn’s $750 million investment into science, engineering, and medicine over the next five years in an effort to promote research on campus. Led by Nursing School researcher and professor José Bauermeister, the lab aims to create a welcoming hub for students and faculty to engage in community-based research and teach students to produce innovative solutions to problems affecting the LGBTQ community.
Bauermeister said that the new initiative is a safe, science-based environment seeking to create solutions that will with widespread impact. Eidos will use the scientific method and incorporate diverse perspectives and lived experiences. This will allow the lab to gain further insights into the health of LGBTQ populations, he added — and improve on existing methods to better serve them.
Bauermeister also said that he wants the collaborative nature of the social entrepreneurship lab to cultivate the celebration of the LGBTQ community and its contributions to society.
“It really is a space to be creative and thoughtful and showcase the potential to have an impact on the health equity space, as well as to continue to push our drive towards social justice,” Bauermeister said.
While the initiative's programming is not yet finalized, Bauermeister said that students and faculty can expect to see speaker series, competitive pilot funds fostering students and faculty collaboration on areas of inquiry in the LGBTQ health space, and further community outreach in the future.
Nursing School Dean Antonia M. Villarruel said the Eidos initiative closely aligns with the Nursing School’s broader commitment to social justice and community-based work, and its people-focused — rather than disease-focused — approach, by including the experiences of members of the LGBTQ community in its research.
“The Eidos initiative addresses an underserved and stigmatized community,” Villarruel said. “It centers their voices in the creation, and dissemination and uptake of products, initiatives that will help them navigate whatever they need, whatever people need to navigate throughout their lives.”
Student input will also play an important role not only in the research at Eidos, but also in shaping how the new initiative will function. Both Bauermeister and Villarruel emphasized their eagerness to welcome students from all areas of the undergraduate population, whether or not they are studying nursing.
The initiative will also be hiring research assistants to work on strategic planning and some tentative projects over the next six months.
“Some of the best ideas are from our students,” Bauermeister said, “and so they have to be front and center."
Villarruel added that nursing is a highly interdisciplinary field that benefits from different backgrounds and perspectives. She said that she hopes that bringing together students of different backgrounds and experiences will help further the lab's commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to make meaningful change, not only in the health of people, but also in the larger society and how we are addressing some of the big health care costs and access to care that we’re all trying to solve,” Bauermeister said.
Students interested in getting involved with the Eidos initiative can send their cover letter and resumé to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In nursing, we very much welcome interdisciplinary and inter-professional learning,” Villarruel said. “If you’re interested in being part of an interdisciplinary team interested in research, Eidos is the place for you.”