Policy Center Notes September/October 2012

Scholar Spotlight

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College celebrated the success of the first annual Summer Institute on Health Policy—four weeks of intensive, accelerated coursework on topics related to health policy and the social sciences, this year drawing more than 100 students and faculty from nine different universities across the nation.

Held on the campus of Meharry Medical College from May 29 to June 22, students participated in health policy presentations and discussions led by an impressive faculty of nationally renowned health policy scholars. The universities represented included Meharry, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University, the University of New Mexico, California State University, Johns Hopkins University, Rutgers University, the University of Rochester, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. 

Additionally, fifteen students and faculty from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Project L/EARN at Rutgers University, as well as others from our sister site, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, joined in via videoconference during select course sessions.

Sonia Bettez, a doctoral fellow from the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of Mexico, said the Summer Institute provided her with an enriching experience. "Participants were inspired by the wealth of information provided and the deep discussions that followed," she said. "We left with new lenses and effective tools to better address and promote health equity for all."

After completing its first year, the Summer Institute on Health Policy has proved to have the potential for longstanding success as a major recognized forum for health policy exchange. Daniel L. Howard, executive director for the RWJF Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College, said he was excited about the Summer Institute's future. "We look forward to carrying the momentum into summer 2013," he said.

Dr. Daniel HowardDIRECTOR’S DESK
from Daniel L. Howard Ph.D., Executive Director,
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College

After a busy summer of student participation in externships both in our nation's capital and on the Meharry Medical College campus in our well received Summer Institute on Health Policy—The Center is moving full force into the fall season and looking ahead to spring.

We are kicking off our third year this semester with two health policy courses. Health Disparities and Health Policy will be taught by Thomas LaVeist, Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His elective course will examine the challenges and methods in the implementation of health disparities research and interventions. An overarching goal is to increase awareness and knowledge of research on minority health and of unique issues to consider when engaging in public health research and practice in underserved communities. The other course, Health Policy and Society, will be led by Keydron Guinn, Ph.D., deputy director of the Center. This course will expose students to the legislative health decisions and the positive and negative impacts on various groups
within society.

Further ahead, in November, the National Advisory Board meeting will convene with national leaders in health policy joining RWJF administrators to discuss the strategic plan of the Center. And Spring 2013 will see eight nationally-renowned health policy lecturers take part in our National Scholars' Current Issues in Health Policy Seminar Series. That semester will also introduce two new health policy courses: Social Dynamics of Mental Health, taught by C. André Christie Mizell, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt; and Society and Medicine, taught by Tyson Brown, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology at Vanderbilt.With this slate of activities, the academic year is shaping up to be full and informative with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College continuing its growth as a national health policy academic center.


The Center for Health Policy's Fellows, Scholars, and Associates are a dynamic group of students and faculty from Meharry and Vanderbilt who explore health policy as it relates to their research interests.

Dr. Monique LyleMonique Lyle, PhD, Health Policy Associate and political science professor at Vanderbilt University, and Health Policy Fellow Sydney Jones were cited in a Huffington Post article about President Obama's signature Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Their study, "Attributions, Emotions, and Health Care Reform: President Obama and Political Cognition about the Affordable Care Act," was cited in making the case that racism has been a major factor underlying much of the opposition to the law. To read the full Huffington Post article click here.

Daniel TelloDaniel S. Tello, 2011 Health Policy Fellow, has been awarded a three-year graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation to commence in September 2012 and conclude in May 2015. Tello is a PhD student in economics at Vanderbilt University, where he recently passed his comprehensive exams in macroeconomics and microeconomics. After coming to the U.S. from Lima, Peru, Tello received a BS in pure mathematics and economics from Florida State University, where he wrote an honors thesis on parents' decisions in enrolling their children in the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP.

Dr. Eleanor FlemingEleanor Fleming, PhD, DDS, 2010 Health Policy Scholar, gave a presentation on "U.S.A. Social Determinants of Health and Health Differences between Native and Foreign-born Blacks in the United States" at the International Conference on Health in the African Diaspora (ICHAD) in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted by Johns Hopkins University. Fleming, a member of the first cohort of Health Policy Scholars, works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She received a PhD in political science from Vanderbilt University and a D.D.S. from Meharry's School of Dentistry.


The inaugural Meharry–Vanderbilt Health Policy Partnership Lecture, a yearly event featuring academic excellence in health policy studies launched this summer. The lecture, "The Protest Psychosis: Race, Politics, and the Diagnosis of Schizophrenia," was presented at Meharry by Jonathan Metzl, MD, PhD, the Frederick B. Rentschler II Chair of Sociology and Medicine, Health, and Society and director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt. Next year, a Meharry faculty member will conduct the lecture on Vanderbilt's campus.


The RWJF Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College is accepting applications for the Health Policy Associates Program for 2013-2014. The Health Policy Associates Program is designed to provide faculty of both Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University with a distinct affiliation and role with the RWJF Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College in order to encourage and enhance training, collegiality, purpose, commitment to, and support of health policy and social science research.

Faculty are selected based upon their excellence, qualifications, expertise, and commitment to the field of health policy and research and represent various and diverse disciplines of study. Health Policy Associates enjoy an array of exciting benefits derived from this affiliation.

Visit www.meharryhealthpolicy.org to learn more and download the application. Additionally, 2011-2012 Health Policy Associates may renew their two-year term by sending an updated curriculum vitae.

Applications will be accepted until November 1, 2012 and should be sent to Charlane Oliver at coliver@mmc.edu.