One of the country’s leading programs for health policy scholars will make the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health its home starting this summer. The Health Policy Research Scholars program is a four-year national leadership development program to train full-time doctoral students from non-clinical, academic disciplines with a policy focus who will build a culture of health in their disciplines and communities. The program’s center will be led by Keshia M. Pollack Porter, PhD, a professor in the School’s Department of Health Policy and Management.
Established in 2016, the program focuses on supporting students who are typically underrepresented in doctoral programs; the program is designed to augment doctoral students’ training by developing their leadership, networking, communications, research, and policy skills.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest U.S.-based philanthropy focused exclusively on improving health and health care for all Americans, is funding the program. The center had most recently been based at the George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health.
AcademyHealth, a leading national organization for professionals that produce and use health services and policy research to improve health and the delivery of health care, is the center’s key partner organization.
A nationally recognized health policy researcher, Pollack Porter has published widely on injury prevention, active transportation, and workplace safety and health, and has engaged in policymaking at the local, state, and federal levels. She has received numerous honors during her career, including the Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumna Award in 2018 and the American Public Health Association (APHA) Injury Control and Emergency Health Services Mid-Career Outstanding Service Award in 2012. She was named one of 50 Women to Watch in Maryland by the Baltimore Sun in 2014.
“I am thrilled to lead the new center and grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their backing. We have an outstanding team who will advance the goals of the Health Policy Research Scholars program and support its scholars,” says Pollack Porter. “We look forward to developing a new cadre of transformational health policy researchers who will improve health, well-being, and equity.”
The center’s new funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will ensure that health policy research remains a vibrant option for aspiring doctoral students to study and practice.
“We chose Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as our new national program center, in part, because of its clear commitment to advancing health equity and to supporting doctoral students who are typically underrepresented in these types of programs,” said Kay Felix, MD, managing director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Dr. Pollack Porter’s expertise in health policy and the social determinants of health—as well as her enthusiasm for and experience with these types of programs—are a tremendous asset for both the scholars and RWJF.”
The national program center will recruit students and review applications, and develop and oversee the program’s curriculum. The center will also foster interdisciplinary exchange, network building, and collaboration among scholars during the four-year experience, and as alumni, after they complete the program. The center began its work at the Bloomberg School on July 15.
“The Bloomberg School is committed to improving health equity that aligns with the on-the-ground needs of a community,” says Bloomberg School Dean Ellen J. Mackenzie, PhD, ScM. “The Health Policy Research Scholars program will imbue these scholars with leadership skills and enable them to work across disciplines and sectors to engage others—including members of communities—and create systems change in order to build a culture of health.”
Moving forward, the Health Policy Research Scholars program will continue to seek doctoral students in non-clinical disciplines such as economics, sociology, and political science—as well as those in more traditional public health fields, such as epidemiology and nutrition—through a competitive application process for a four-year experience that complements their doctoral training.
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