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Research leaders collaborate to improve population health and policy

Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky names inaugural scholars Research leaders collaborate to improve population health and policy

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – By bringing together the expertise of researchers from multiple disciplines, the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky (CIK), an entity of the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, is broadening its capacity to address health disparities across the state and beyond.

The institute, established in 2015 with initial funding from KentuckyOne Health, recently named 18 researchers inaugural Commonwealth Scholars, from academic areas ranging from health promotion, economics, medicine and urban affairs to health policy.

The first CIK Scholars include:

  • Joseph Benitez, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Craig Blakely, Ph.D., M.P.H., dean, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Susan Buchino, Ph.D., OTR/L, senior research manager, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Ryan Combs, Ph.D., M.A., assistant professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Liza Creel, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Robert Esterhay, M.D., associate professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • José Fernandez, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Economics, UofL College of Business
  • Jeremy Gaskins, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • J’Aime Jennings, Ph.D., M.P.A., assistant professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences,UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Christopher Johnson, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences,UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Brandy Kelly Pryor, Ph.D., director,  Center for Health Equity at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness; assistant professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Jelani Kerr, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., assistant professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences,UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Bert Little, Ph.D., professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Gilbert Liu, M.D., professor and Director of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, UofL School of Medicine
  • W. Paul McKinney, M.D.,associate dean for research; professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Elizabeth Munnich, Ph.D.,assistant professor, Department of Economics, UofL College of Business
  • Matthew Ruther, Ph.D.,director of the Kentucky State Data Center; assistant professor, Department of Urban and Public Affairs, UofL College of Arts and Sciences
  • Monica Wendel, Dr.P.H., M.A., associate dean for public health practice; acting director, Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky; associate professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences

“The complex health issues facing our communities such as poverty and preventable health disparities, require individual scholars to recognize the valuable knowledge and methods of other disciplines,” said Craig Blakely, dean of the UofL School of Public Health and Information Science and CIK Executive Committee member. “We are convening researchers from across the globe with wide-ranging expertise to improve population health and affect health policy.”

The primary operations of the CIK involve community-based research, health policy support, data analytics, and education. Commonwealth Scholars are able to access a variety of national data sets. Researchers also benefit from infrastructure support, such as financial management and biostatisticians, as well as connections to CIK community partners to develop new research.

Initial CIK projects underway include the development and pilot of neighborhood-focused health literacy interventions and a mentoring program for justice involved youth. An experiential study of LGBTQ Kentuckians enrolling in and using health insurance and an evaluation of health care access and utilization in Louisville Metro are among the completed projects.

Interested researchers should submit a short statement and current CV to sherry.duffy@louisville.edu. Applications will be reviewed by the CIK Executive Committee and applicants will be notified of their acceptance as a Commonwealth Scholar.

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