The Florida Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities (FL-CEAL) is a part of the National Institute of Health’s Community Engagement Alliance.

The Alliance, which includes several states across the country, was established to address COVID-19 disparities by addressing misinformation and diversity in clinical trials.

The goal of the FL-CEAL is to establish effective, community-engaged strategies to enhance education, awareness, access, and inclusion of underserved communities in research designed to advance the prevention and treatment of COVID and reduce COVID disparities in the state of Florida.

The initiative includes seven research studies from five of the state’s leading academic institutions, all of which have community partnerships as a central component.

Statewide Partners

FL-Ceal Partners

Research Projects

1. The UM-FIU project is conducting formative research on barriers/facilitators to COVID prevention, acceptance of treatment, and future participation in clinical trials among three underserved LatinX communities: agricultural, low income urban (LIU), and sexual/gender minority (SGM).

2. The Research Center in a Minority Institution at Florida International University (FIURCMI) project is working to identify perceived barriers/facilitators to testing and participating in vaccine trials, as well as strategies for educating and reaching disadvantaged populations living in urban areas in South Florida, with an emphasis on Blacks and the elderly.

3. The UM-FAMU project is conducting research to determine the level of awareness and understanding of COVID and the barriers/ facilitators for participation in COVID research studies in north Florida’s minority communities, with a particular focus on Blacks.

4. The HCN project is examining the barriers/ facilitators that may exists among its patients for participation in COVID research studies as well as the information and misunderstanding which may exist. They are also examining perceptions among providers with regards to having their patients participate in such studies.

5. The Moffitt Cancer Center project focuses on barriers/facilitators to participation in COVID research ranging from observational studies to vaccines trials currently being offered or planned in West Central Florida.

6. The UM project focused on recruitment of minorities in COVID vaccine trials via community-based and informed approaches, including outreach and engagement led by Community Health Workers and continues to engage these partners to develop strategies for increasing minority recruitment in future COVID trials and other non-COVID clinical trials.

7. The UF project partnered with Federally Qualified Health Centers and Community Health Workers to ensure robust participation of minorities in two major COVID studies that were part of the OneFlorida network and is continuing the partnership for future COVID clinical trials


Led by Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, our statewide coalition includes established investigators whose careers have focused on medically and socially underserved populations.

  • Elena Bastida, PhD, Florida International University (MPI)
  • Victoria Behar-Zusman, PhD, University of Miami (MPI)
  • Adriana Campa, PhD, RD, MBA, Florida International University (MPI)
  • Olveen Carrasquillo, MD, MPH, University of Miami (MPI)*
  • Mario de la Rosa, PhD, Florida International University (MPI)
  • Cynthia Harris, PhD, Florida A&M University (MPI)
  • Terisa James, Health Choice Network (Co-I)
  • Erin Kobetz, PhD, MPH, University of Miami (MPI)
  • Tim Long, MD, Health Choice Network (MPI)
  • Nicholas Metheny, PhD, MPH, RN, University of Miami (Co-I)
  • Folakemi Odedina, PhD, University of Florida (MPI)
  • Elizabeth Shenkman, PhD, University of Florida (MPI)
  • Susan Vadaparampil, PhD, MPH, Moffitt Cancer Center (Co-I)
  • Eric Wagner, PhD, Florida International University (MPI)


National CEAL Website
Resources to Share (includes shareable resources on topics including COVID-19 Basics, Vaccines, Clinical Trials, and Diversity & Inclusion)
Community Engagement