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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Minnesota Launches Major New RWJF “Culture of Health” Initiative

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has chosen the University of Minnesota School of Public Health to lead Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, an initiative to create the kind of bold change and collaboration needed to achieve greater health equity in communities across the country.

Directed by Minnesota’s associate professor Dr. Michael Oakes, Interdisciplinary Research Leaders will train 20 teams across the country to spur the on-the-ground development essential to produce what RWJF calls a “Culture of Health,” an inclusive society where health ­­­­­­­­­­is a guiding value and all people live longer, healthier lives.

Three-person teams — including two researchers and one community leader from diverse disciplines, geography, backgrounds, and perspectives — will participate from their home communities and collaborate via in-person meetings and a communications network custom built for the program. Total awards will be up to $350,000 per team for the duration of the three-year fellowship program. This amount includes both annual stipends for all three participants and a research project award.

“We want to fund teams and cultivate projects that will have immediate significance,” said Dr. Oakes. “Instead of a research project having a five-year timeline, for example, we’ll work to create an up-tempo environment to do things more quickly and more focused with smaller teams.”

The call for applications is open and will close April 19 (3 p.m. Eastern).

Mirroring the make up of the research teams, Minnesota will lead Interdisciplinary Research Leaders with several external partners, including Allina Health, AcademyHealth, community organizations ISAIAH and the Twin Cities’ Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and the Minnesota Department of Health.

Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is one of four national change leadership programs designed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Other programs include Health Policy Research Scholars (for doctoral scholars from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds), Culture of Health Leaders (for collaboration across disciplines and sectors), and Clinical Scholars (for health care professionals).