We do not support your browser. Please take a moment and upgrade to the most recent version of Internet Explorer.

Reducing health disparities in pediatric asthma patients leverages CTSI services for success



UCLA CTSI News Archive


Sande Okelo, MD, PhD

Investigator spotlight on Dr. Sande Okelo’s research

Dr. Sande Okelo, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology and Director of the Pediatric Asthma Center at UCLA, has been effectively utilizing CTSI resources almost since its inception. This collaboration started back in 2013 and has continued consistently to this day.

Dr. Okelo’s research efforts are committed to improving outcomes and reducing disparities for pediatric patients with high-risk, chronic asthma, captured primarily via admission to the Emergency Department. Dr. Okelo has already partnered with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) twice to carry out this important research and he has future CHLA collaborations planned in order to spread high-level quality of care throughout Los Angeles.

As these patients constitute an underserved population in healthcare, Dr. Okelo has partnered with CTSI’s Integrating Special Population (ISP) program on multiple occasions, receiving consults from them on specific projects to help with conceptualization, identifying collaborators, and study recruitment. The ISP is available for post-docs and faculty at any level who are performing research relevant to special populations (such as children, older adults, and those with health disparities). Any other investigator working with special populations can learn more here.

This is what Dr. Peter Szilagyi, Co-Leader of ISP, had to say about this partnership: “Dr. Okelo has a passion for improving the health of children with asthma through transformative health services research and use of technology to help guide asthma care. He embodies the mission of the UCLA CTSI by focusing on vulnerable populations (particularly low-income children with asthma), employing innovative and rigorous research methods, collaborating with community organizations and multiple institutions and CTSIs, and mentoring many trainees and junior individuals.

Dr. Okelo has also made frequent use of CTSI’s Community Engagement and Research Program (CERP). CTSI’s CERP was pleased to offer Dr. Okelo services including: two community engagement studio sessions with community-academic partners to provide guidance on community advisory boards (CABs) for how to incorporate community engagement into Dr. Okelo’s PCORI project (study design, intervention design, dissemination, etc); providing examples and resources of agendas/powerpoints and invite letters for Community Advisory Boards (CABs); and community partner matchmaking with contacts for community organizations with high asthma rates. This was pivotal to his work, which involves interfacing with a population who may be facing a variety of access issues. These are services accessible to any CTSI investigators interested in engaging more with community partners, and more can be learned here.

Other CTSI resources that Dr. Okelo has used include the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design Program (BERD) for assistance with the statistical side of his research, and the Grant Submission Unit (GSU) to support the project management required for the submission of large and complex grants.

“The CTSI has been a vital resource to my research career, including before, during, and between grant applications.  The resources that the CTSI has provided, including biostatistics, internal grant reviews, award opportunity notifications, and support in completing the application process have been wonderful and vital. The members of the CTSI have been a great team to work with!” Dr. Okelo said about his experience with the CTSI.

In partnership with stellar researchers such as Dr. Okelo, the CTSI is here to create fulfilling collaborations with UCLA investigators at any level of their career in order to support, enrich, and translate their research efforts.