A photograph of a homeless person's shopping cart with a sign saying Help

UCLA School of Nursing Associate Adjunct Professor Dr. Benissa Salem, PhD, RN, MSN, PHN, CNL, has been named a recipient of the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation’s 2023 Emergent Innovation Grant, designed to support bold, early-stage interventions that improve the health of marginalized populations. 

This year, the Hillman Emergent Innovation (HEI) program welcomed ten new scientists working to transform health care through nursing. 

Dr. Benissa Salem
Dr. Benissa Salem

Dr. Salem’s project, A Pilot Feasibility Trial of HEALthy Beginnings: A Trauma-Informed, Chronic Disease Self-Care Intervention for Middle-Aged, and Older Homeless Women, will pilot test a trauma-informed, chronic disease self-care intervention, HEALthy Beginnings, for middle-aged and older women experiencing homelessness. This population typically experiences significant traumatic life events, and are managing multiple physical and mental health conditions.

“Strengthened by nursing’s unique biopsychosocial approach to care, HEALthy Beginnings will be delivered by a nurse-led, community health worker team,” Salem said. “With this crucial funding, we will be able to determine the feasibility of HEALthy Beginnings and pave the way for testing in future randomized controlled trials to examine the effectiveness of this innovative program in decreasing health disparities among this underserved community.”

“Nursing has a long history of developing innovative solutions to some of healthcare’s most intractable problems,” said Ahrin Mishan, Executive Director of The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation. “The community-centered approaches we are funding this year are a testament to the vital role nurses play in improving the health of some of society’s most overlooked and minoritized populations.”