ABOUT HEALTH POLICY
RESEARCH SCHOLARS

Health Policy Research Scholars is a leadership development opportunity for first- and second-year full-time doctoral students from underrepresented populations and/or disadvantaged backgrounds—students whose ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability, and other factors allow them to bring unique and diverse perspectives to their research. They want to apply their research to advance health and equity, and their innovation helps build a Culture of Health, one that enables everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives.

The Health Policy Research Scholars program includes scholars from disciplines as diverse as psychology, architecture, transportation, sociology, social welfare, environmental health and many others. For this year’s cohort, we’re looking for even broader representation from any research-focused discipline that can advance a Culture of Health.

“I’m excited to take my psychology research outside of the lab and use it in ways to improve the lives of people from underserved communities.“
— HENRY WILLIS

HENRY WILLIS, PHD STUDENT, PSYCHOLOGY & NEUROSCIENCE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY,
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

The experience: HEALTH POLICY RESEARCH SCHOLARS

Over the course of the program, scholars will:

  • Receive an annual stipend of up to $30,000 for up to four years. They may continue in the program, without the annual stipend, during the fifth year or until completion of their doctoral program, whichever occurs first.
  • Receive training in health policy translation, dissemination, communication, health equity, and population health.
  • Develop high-level leadership skills through professional coaching, networking, and an advanced leadership curriculum, including in-person leadership sessions as well as distance-based learning using interactive technology.
  • Continue working from their home institution and applying new learnings in real time.
  • Receive dissertation support and mentoring.
  • Establish and strengthen professional ties to public health and industry leaders.
  • Be eligible for a competitive dissertation grant of up to $10,000.

The result: LEADERS EQUIPPED TO BUILD A CULTURE OF HEALTH IN AMERICA

Upon completion, scholars will be equipped to:

  • Lead and collaborate across sectors, professions, and disciplines.
  • Engage and develop policy relevant research that supports community-led action.
  • Apply research to influence policy related to population health, health equity, and social determinants of health.
  • Frame systemic issues and build policy solutions.
  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of the root causes of inequity, Culture of Health, research, and other concepts.

Health Policy Research Scholars is a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, co-led by Johns Hopkins University and The George Washington University.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

These programs continue the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s legacy of supporting the development and diversity of leaders. Initially focused on health and health care, the programs have been expanded, because we know that building a Culture of Health requires all of us in every sector, profession and discipline working together.

For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. It is working with others to build a national Culture of Health, enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives.

PROGRAM LEADERSHIP

Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD
Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD Director, HPRS;
Professor and Chair, Health Policy & Management at The George Washington University School of Public Health

Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD, is chairman of the Department of Health Policy and Management at The George Washington University, Milken Institute School of Public Health. He joined GWU after 25 years on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he was the William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy and Director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, his doctorate degree in medical sociology from the University of Michigan and postdoctoral fellowship in public health at the Michigan School of Public Health. Thomas has published more than 100 articles in scientific journals. He is a highly sought after lecturer at leading universities, corporations, professional conferences and workshops. Thomas has also provided consultation services for numerous federal agencies and health care organizations on minority health and cultural competency issues and racial disparities in health.

“I believe that health happens beyond the walls of hospitals and that the Culture of Health Leaders program is equipping me with the knowledge and tools to facilitate and bring about health where people are–in their community.” 

—THOMAS A. LAVEIST, PhD

Harolyn M.E. Belcher, MD, MHS
Harolyn M.E. Belcher, MD, MHS
Director, Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training at Kennedy Krieger Institute;
Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Dr. Harolyn Belcher is a Professor of Pediatrics who is jointly appointed in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), Department of Mental Health. She is currently the Director of the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Harolyn is double boarded in Pediatrics and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. Harolyn and clinicians at CCTFS received 10 consecutive years of funding for National Child Traumatic Stress Network grants promoting evidence and trauma-informed mental health treatment for children exposed to trauma (i.e., child maltreatment, community violence, domestic violence and parental risk factors). She is the Co-Principal Investigator on an NIH grant to examine the cost effectiveness of the Chicago Parent Program versus Parent Child Interaction Therapy. Harolyndirects three CDC programs and one HRSA-funded program to support diversity in public health research and maternal and child health careers for up to 65 undergraduate, graduate and professional school students each year who are interested in addressing health disparities and advancing health equity. Collectively, she has provided mentored public health educational experiences for over 300 diverse students through CDC-funded education programs. Harolyn serves on Senator Nathan-Pulliam’s Committee to Address Health Disparities in Baltimore City. She participated on two Maryland Governor’s panels (the Task Force to Study the Use of Methylphenidate and Other Drugs on School Children, and the Maryland Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities Initiative, Access to Quality Service Committee), a National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Disabilities Determination and as a member of the Bright Futures Content Toolkit: Developmental and Psychosocial Workgroup.

Lydia A. Isaac, PhD, MSc
Lydia A. Isaac, PhD, MSc
Executive Director, HPRS;
Associate Research Faculty, The George Washington University and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Lydia Isaac, PhD, MSc, is responsible for all of the day-to-day operations and curriculum development for the Health Policy Research Scholars Program. Before joining HPRS she was the Director of Policy and Health Systems Analysis in the Office of Policy, Planning and Strategic Data in the First Deputy’s Commissioner’s office at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She has worked in local and state government throughout her career and in academia where she has taught classes on community health assessment and the social disparities in health. She has a bachelors’ degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University, a Masters of Science degree in Health, and Social Behavior from the Harvard School of Public Health and a doctorate in Health Policy and Management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Kimberly A. Sparks
Kimberly A. Sparks
Sr. Research Data Manager, HPRS;
Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

With an extensive background in survey design, distribution methodology, and data analytics and utilization, Kim Sparks is the Sr. Research Data Manager for the Health Policy Research Scholars program. She consulted with health care organizations on improving the patient experience while working for Press Ganey Associates, Inc., the oldest and largest patient survey vendor in the United States. Using that experience, Kim then became the Lead Patient Experience Data Manager for the Johns Hopkins Health System. Over the five years in this role, she instructed hospital departments on how to clearly identify specific areas of opportunity along with implementing proven and precise solutions to those opportunities. Kim obtained her Bachelor of Business Management and Consulting degree from the University of Notre Dame in 2004.

Laurie Unruh, MSc
Laurie Unruh, MSc
Academic Program Administrator, HPRS;
Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Laurie Unruh, MSc, joined Health Policy Research Scholars in November, 2016. In this role, she supports online learning activities, scholar recruitment and student services. She serves as a point of contact for scholars concerning program activities and liaises between program and scholar mentors. Previously, she served as a Regional Enrollment Team Manager for the University of Liverpool’s online Masters and Doctorate programs with Laureate International Universities where she handled student recruitment, admissions, student services and retention for students from North America, South America and the Caribbean. Laurie is also a volunteer literacy tutor at an elementary school in Baltimore City. She received her MSc in Philosophy of Social Sciences from London School of Economics and Political Science and her Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Our partners are instrumental in developing and delivering curriculum, providing mentorship and coaching, and extending the network of scholars.

National advisory committee

Hortensia Amaro, PhD, MA
Hortensia Amaro, PhD, MA
Chair, HPRS, National Advisory Committee;
Dean's Professor, Social Work and Preventive Medicine and Associate Vice Provost, Community Research Initiatives at University of Southern California

Hortensia Amaro, PhD, MA, received her doctorate in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was awarded honorary doctoral degrees in humane letters by Simmons College and the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. She has forged vital connections between public health research and practice while dramatically advancing the understanding of substance abuse disorder treatment, HIV prevention and other urgent public health challenges through a distinguished career spanning scholarly research, translation of science to practice, and top-level policy consultation. She also serves on four Institute of Medicine committees. Before joining USC in 2012, Hortensia was with Northeastern University for 10 years, serving as dean and distinguished professor of health sciences and counseling psychology, of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, and as director of USC’s Institute on Urban Health Research. For 18 years prior to that, she was professor in the Boston University School of Public Health and in the Department of Pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Collins Airhihenbuwa, PhD, MPH
Collins Airhihenbuwa, PhD, MPH
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Dean, College for Public Health and Social Justice, Saint Louis University

Collins Airhihenbuwa, PhD, MPH, received his PhD in Public Health Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his MPH from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Airhihenbuwa is a leader in global health as he chairs the Advisory Board of the Global Philanthropy Alliance which, funds projects in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, and serves as a consultant to multiple NIH-funded health disparity research grants and UN agencies including WHO, UNAIDS and UNFPA. His contributions have been recognized by numerous scientific societies, including the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE); the American Association for Health Education; the American Academy of Health Behavior; and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. His research interest is health and culture and he is the author of the PEN-3 model and co-author of critical race theory applied to public health. He has facilitated research collaborations, institutional partnerships, and mentoring of junior faculty from underrepresented groups at various institutions domestically and globally. He is the Director for the Pan-University Network for Global Health. Previously, he served as a department head and professor at Penn State University.

Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, PhD, MPA-URP
Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, PhD, MPA-URP
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Samuel F. and Rose B. Gingold Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Director of the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, PhD, MPA-URP, received her bachelor’s degree in public administration from El Colegio de Mexico (Mexico City), and her MPA-URP and Ph.D. in Public Policy with a concentration in Demography from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Her research focuses on the social determinants (e.g., residential segregation, immigrant adaptation) of racial/ethnic inequities in health; the role of social policies (e.g., housing policies, immigrant policies) in reducing those inequities; and the health and well-being of children with special needs. She is Project Director for diversitydatakids.org, a comprehensive database of indicators on child well-being and opportunity by race/ethnicity across multiple sectors (e.g., education, health, neighborhoods) and geographies, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Dolores is an investigator and member of the Steering Committee on the Housing and Children’s Healthy Development study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the MacArthur Foundation.

Dennis P. Andrulis, PhD, MPH
Dennis P. Andrulis, PhD, MPH
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Senior Research Scientist, Texas Health Institute, Associate Professor, University of Texas School of Public Health

Dennis P. Andrulis, PhD, MPH, earned a PhD in Educational Psychology—with a focus on community—from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with postdoctoral work in Community Psychiatry. In his current positions, Dennis leads the development of initiatives on urban health, health care for vulnerable populations, racial and ethnic disparities, and cultural competence, working at community, state and national levels. His recent work has focused on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its implications for racially and ethnically diverse populations; engaging diverse communities in preparing for public health emergencies; and the effect of urban sprawl on health care on vulnerable populations. Previously, Dennis was the Associate Dean for Research of Drexel University’s School of Public Health in Philadelphia, and directed its Center for Health Equality.

Linda Burhansstipanov, DrPH, MSPH
Linda Burhansstipanov, DrPH, MSPH
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Founder/President and Grants Director, Native American Cancer Research Corporation

Linda Burhansstipanov, DrPH, MSPH, received her DrPH and MSPH from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is an educator and researcher whose advocacy for the health needs of Native Americans has made her one of the nation’s leading experts on cancer and Native populations. By calling attention to issues of data collection and the complex roles of culture in disease perception, diagnosis, treatment and healing, Linda has had a decisive role in elevating and advancing public health measurement and understanding of the health needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives. She has worked in public health since 1971, primarily with Native American issues. She taught full-time at universities for 18 years (CSULB and UCLA). She currently is the principal investigator and subcontractor for five NIH grants. She has over 100 peer-reviewed publications, of which most address Native American cancer, public health and data issues.

John Chin, PhD, MS
John Chin, PhD, MS
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Professor, Department of Urban Policy and Planning, CUNY Hunter College

John Chin, PhD, MS, received his PhD in Urban Planning from Columbia University, and his MS in Urban Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research. His research is focused on urban health, immigrant communities and the role of community institutions in community planning and in the delivery of social and health services. He is also interested in how key community-based institutions in immigrant and minority communities shape community values and norms, particularly in relation to controversial or sensitive topics, like HIV. Prior to his position at Hunter College, John was a Senior Research Associate at the New York Academy of Medicine, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University (Mailman School of Public Health), and a Visiting Assistant Research Scientist at the University of California, San Francisco. Previously, he was a co-founder and Deputy Executive Director of the Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA). He has also worked for the NYC Commission on Human Rights and the NYC Comptroller’s Office.

Gary Harris, PhD, PE
Gary Harris, PhD, PE
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Studies, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of the Howard Nanoscale Science and Engineering Facility, Howard University

Gary L. Harris, PhD, PE, received his doctorate, master’s and BSEE degrees in Electrical Engineering-Electro-Physics from Cornell University in 1980, 1976 and 1975, respectively. His primary research interests are the growth and characterization of electronic and optical materials; the fabrication of semiconductor devices with special attention on wide band gap and compound semiconductor materials; and applications of nanotechnology. These materials include GaAs, SiC, graphene, diamond and other III-V and IV-IV compounds. During the last seven years, Dr. Harris has focused on the growth and characterization of SiC and has designed and fabricated some novel devices in SiC (SiC inverters, photoconductors, FET’s, QCM, blood pressure sensors, etc.). He has also grown and characterized GaN, GaInN, InN, etc. nanowires and tubes for photonic and high-speed applications. Previously, Dr. Harris held the position of Associate Vice President for Research from March 1995 to October 2000. Dr. Harris has mentored and advised the research theses and dissertations of more than 150 master’s and Ph.D. graduates.

Andrew J. Imparato, JD
Andrew J. Imparato, JD
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Executive Director, Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Andrew J. Imparato, JD, graduated summa cum laude from Yale College and with distinction from Stanford Law School. He has served as executive director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) since September 2013. As a disability rights lawyer and policy professional with more than two decades of experience in government and advocacy roles, Andrew has worked with bipartisan policymakers to advance disability policy at the national level in the areas of civil rights, workforce development and disability benefits. Prior to his work at AUCD, he was senior counsel and disability policy director for Senator Tom Harkin on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Before that, he spent 11 years as President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, a national membership organization working to grow the political and economic power of the disability community.

Paula Lantz, PhD, MS, MA
Paula Lantz, PhD, MS, MA
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Paula Lantz, PhD, MS, MA, received an MA in sociology from Washington University, St. Louis, and an MS in epidemiology and PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin. Paula, a social demographer, studies the role of public health in health care reform, clinical preventive services (such as cancer screening and prenatal care) and social inequalities in health. She is interested in the role of health care versus broad social policy aimed at social determinants of health in reducing social disparities in health status. Paula’s current research focuses on policy issues related to clinical preventive services, and the potential for social impact bonds/Pay for Success projects to address social determinants of health and reduce health care costs in Medicaid populations. She most recently was professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University. From 1994-2011, she was a faculty member at the University of Michigan.

Amani Nuru-Jeter, PhD, MPH
Amani Nuru-Jeter, PhD, MPH
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Associate Professor, Epidemiology, and Community Health Sciences, UC Berkeley School of Public Health

Amani Nuru-Jeter, PhD, MPH, completed her PhD in Health Policy and Management, Health and Social Policy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and earned an MPH in Maternal and Child Health from The George Washington University School of Public Health. Amani’s broad research interest is to integrate social, demographic and epidemiologic methods to examine racial inequalities in health as they exist across populations, across place and over the life-course. Her research has included work on doctor-patient race-concordance; the intersection of race, socioeconomic status, and gender on risk for psychological distress, disability outcomes, adult mortality, and child health and development; racial segregation; and racism stress and mental health outcomes. Her previous roles include Health Policy Coordinator at DC Action for Children and Manager of the State Primary Care Office at the Department of Health in Washington, D.C.

Margaret Moss, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN
Margaret Moss, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion; Associate Professor, School of Nursing, SUNY Buffalo

Margaret Moss, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN, received her doctorate in nursing from the University of Texas, Houston, JD from Hamline University, master’s in nursing from the University of Phoenix, and bachelor’s degree in biology from Washington State University. She earned her doctorate in nursing in 2000 and her JD in 2006—and in so doing became the only American Indian in the country who holds both degrees. Dr. Moss is a researcher and expert in health care issues involving Native Americans and elder care. In her role with the UB School of Nursing, she works to improve access for underrepresented minorities; establish a pipeline of diverse faculty, staff and students; and identify gaps in school diversity-related policies and procedures. Prior to UB, she was an associate professor and the first director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Yale University School of Nursing. In 2014, Moss was named a Fulbright visiting research chair in Aboriginal/indigenous life and culture in the North American context at McGill University.

José A. Pagán, PhD
José A. Pagán, PhD
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Director of the Center for Health Innovation, The New York Academy of Medicine;
Professor, Department of Population Health Science and Policy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

José A. Pagán, PhD, is a former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar with expertise in health economics and health services research. He received his PhD in economics from the University of New Mexico. He is Adjunct Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. His current work focuses on the use of complex data—”big data”—to address some of the most important challenges faced by scientists, clinicians and health system administrators seeking to improve population health. José was the Principal Investigator of a three-year, $7.3 million Health Care Innovation Award from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop and implement the Brookdale Senior Living Transitions of Care Program. He was also Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health, University of North Texas Health Science Center.

John Wallace, PhD, MA
John Wallace, PhD, MA
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Professor, School of Social Work, Katz School of Business, and Department of Sociology, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

John Wallace, PhD, MA, earned his PhD and master’s degree in sociology from the University of Michigan and his BA in sociology from the University of Chicago. He is the principal investigator on the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems’ Comm-Univer-City of Pittsburgh Project, an integrated program of research, teaching, and service designed to investigate and ameliorate social problems that disproportionately impact economically disadvantaged children, families, and communities. His recent research examines comprehensive community revitalization initiatives, racial and ethnic disparities in social and economic well-being, the impact of crime on clergy and congregations, and adolescent problem behaviors, including violence and substance abuse.

Keith Whitfield, PhD
Keith Whitfield, PhD
National Advisory Committee Member, HPRS;
Provost, Wayne State University

Keith Whitfield, PhD, earned a bachelor’s in psychology from the College of Santa Fe, a Ph.D. in lifespan developmental psychology from Texas Tech University, and received postdoctoral training in quantitative genetics from the University of Colorado Boulder. His research on individual differences in minority aging employs a two-prong approach that includes studying individual people as well as members of twin pairs. Dr. Whitfield’s research examines the etiology of individual variation in health and individual differences in cognition due to health conditions. Results from his research have contributed to the literature on cognitive impairment, depression, stress and coping, hypertension, lung function, obesity, and mortality. Previously, he was vice provost for academic affairs at Duke University, and held appointments as professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, research professor in the Department of Geriatric Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. He also was the co-director of the Center on Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research.