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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Kentucky Investigates Timely Issues in Public Health Services and Systems Research

Four early-career investigators in the field of public health services and systems research (PHSSR) have received funding to identify and examine innovative approaches for bridging the public health and healthcare systems to improve population health.

This research training program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides $25,000 awards to support pre-doctoral dissertation research or early-career post-doctoral research under the mentorship of established researchers. The 12-month awards are managed by the National Coordinating Center for PHSSR, housed at the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health.

The four research projects will investigate timely issues related to emerging and enhanced collaborations among public health, primary care, and other community partners, as well as the growing need to fully understand the costs, effectiveness, and value of public health strategies.

“Building evidence on the meaningful health and economic benefits of coordinated public health, primary care and community-based service delivery is one of the highest priorities for Public Health Services and Systems Research,” said coordinating center director Dr. Glen Mays. “These awards enable early career researchers to develop skills in this expanding frontier under the strong mentorship of exceptional research scientists.”

The recipients, their mentors, and their projects are:

Principal investigator: Ms. Van Do-Reynoso, MPH, PhD candidate; Mentor: Dr. Paul Brown (University of California, Merced)


The Affordable Care Act and Childhood Immunization Delivery in Rural Communities

Ms. Do-Reynoso will examine how the delivery of childhood immunization services changes in small, rural California communities as the Affordable Care Act and related health system reforms are implemented. After examining how current and potential collaborations among local health departments (LHDs), primary care providers, medical facilities, and other community-based providers are implemented for medically underserved populations, the project will estimate the costs of various options for delivering immunization services and the possible effects of these options on the health status of vulnerable populations.

Principal investigator: Mr. Gregg Gonsalves, PhD Candidate; Mentor: Dr. Paul D. Cleary (Yale University)


Optimizing Expenditures Across the HIV Continuum of Care: Bridging Public Health and Health Care Systems

Mr. Gonsalves will examine how patients enter, fall out of care, or succeed in managing their HIV disease in the U.S. Using mathematical modeling, he will identify ways of optimizing total expenditures across different stages of identification, testing, diagnosis, and treatment of people with HIV, while maximizing numbers of those affected in treatment, to prevent further transmission of the disease.

Principal investigator:Dr.  Jonathan Purtle, DrPH, MPH, MSc; Mentor: Dr. Ann Klassen (Drexel University School of Public Health)


Examining Public Health System Roles in Mental Health Service Delivery

Dr. Purtle will investigate the ways in which local public health agencies address mental health issues in their communities, focusing on the types of relationships that exist between these agencies and other governmental and community-based service providers. The project aims to identify barriers and facilitators that public health agencies face in addressing mental health needs.

Principal investigator: Dr. Sharla Smith, PhD, MPH (University of Kansas School of Medicine – Wichita); Mentor: Dr. Mary Aitken (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences)


Injury Prevention Partnerships to Reduce Infant Mortality among Vulnerable Populations

Dr. Smith will evaluate the relationships among public health, primary care, and policy intermediaries who work to reduce injury related infant mortality rates in U.S. communities. By identifying the characteristics of partnerships that can more effectively and efficiently mobilize injury prevention strategies, this study will help determine how to maximize resource sharing and promote enhanced learning among partners.