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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

Kentucky Establishes National Center for Research in Underserved Rural Areas

A new research center operated within the University of Kentucky College of Public Health will investigate and inform health policies and services affecting impoverished rural communities around the nation.

The Center for Rural and Underserved Health Research at Kentucky received a $2.8 million grant from the US Health Resources and Services Administration’s Rural Health Research Center Cooperative Agreement grant program. The Center became one of seven federally funded centers in the nation dedicated to health policy and services research in rural populations. The award will provide an annual $700,000 in funding to operate the center for four years. The Center is situated to address health services and systems in impoverished and underserved areas of Appalachia.

Research conducted at the Center will expand the breadth of knowledge available about the organization, coordination, strategizing and efficiency of health services and policies in impoverished and underserved rural communities. The Center was founded with the objective of building a portfolio of translational research to inform and influence policy makers, managers and other rural health stakeholders. The data collected by the Center will reach both local and national stakeholders.

According to Dr. Ty Borders, the director of the Center and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Endowed Chair in Rural Health Policy, few research studies focus on health care delivery systems and policies in underserved rural areas of America. Researchers within the Center aim to this fill gap in public health scholarship. Their studies will address topics including hospital and public health system collaborations, financial viability of rural hospitals, patient-centered medical care and treatment, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

“It really helps to validate our status having expertise in rural health research,” Dr. Borders said of receiving four-year renewable funding for the Center. “This center is really focused on doing research on rural health issues, including how we can better organize care and improve access to services nationally.”

While the Center is located within the College of Public Health, it represents a multidisciplinary collaboration among Kentucky health researchers and experts. Researchers from the College of Pharmacy, College of Agriculture and the College of Medicine will contribute to research projects. The Center will also work in conjunction with the American Board of Family Medicine, which is headquartered in Lexington.