Department of Medicine

Department of Medicine

  Division of General Internal Medicine

VA Section of General Internal Medicine


Research at the VA Section of General Internal Medicine is carried out by the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP). In July 2001, the VA designated CHERP as a national Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Center of Excellence.


The mission of CHERP is to promote equity and quality in health and health care among veterans. Research focuses on vulnerable veteran populations, including those facing potential discrimination due to race, ethnicity, or social status and those at risk for disparities in health or health care because of other physical or mental conditions.

CHERP research is guided by a framework that recognizes three generations of health equity research: (1) detecting disparities in health and health care, (2) understanding the causes and mechanisms of the disparities, and (3) developing and testing interventions to reduce or eliminate the disparities.


CHERP is based at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center (PVAMC) and is under the leadership of Michael J. Fine, MD, MSc, in Pittsburgh, and David Asch, MD, MBA, in Philadelphia.


CHERP's core faculty base includes 41 investigators: 20 MDs (3 with PhDs and 13 with master’s degrees), 19 PhDs, and 2 PharmDs. An additional 10 affiliate investigators from the VAPHS, the PVAMC, the University of Pittsburgh, RAND Health, and the University of Pennsylvania collaborate with core faculty to achieve CHERP's strategic goals.

The core faculty consists of general internists as well as investigators from several clinical specialties, including nephrology, nursing, pharmacology, psychiatry, pulmonary care, rheumatology, surgery, and women's health. Academic disciplines represented within CHERP include psychology, medical anthropology, communication, sociology, health services research, epidemiology, biostatistics, health economics, and health policy. Together, the clinical and academic investigators provide broad expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methodology, including geocoding, bioinformatics, clinical trial development, quality improvement, community-based participatory research, clinical epidemiology, large database analysis, pharmacoeconomics, psychometrics, econometrics, decision and cost-effectiveness analysis, meta-analysis, and technology assessment.

Funding and Dissemination of Information

CHERP has leveraged generous core funding from the VA HSR&D, the Veterans Integrated Service Network 4 (VISN4), the VAPHS, the PVAMC, and the academic affiliates (University of Pittsburgh and University of Pennsylvania) to successfully compete for new investigator-initiated research support from the VA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and private foundations. The overall funding increased from $19.3 million in 2009 to $24.3 million in 2010.

In fiscal year 2010, CHERP's core investigators published 160 peer-reviewed articles and made 144 presentations at national scientific meetings.

Commitment to Future Research and Training

CHERP's Competitive Pilot Research Program has funded 49 projects to date, resulting in 38 peer-reviewed publications and contributing to successful applications for over $21 million in intramural and extramural funding.

In Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, CHERP hosts postdoctoral health services research training programs sponsored by the VA Office of Academic Affiliations.

To read more about CHERP, click here.