For Immediate Release:
January 23, 2019

Lauren Adams


AcademyHealth is expanding its complement of staff and programs to advance new efforts that support the use of evidence to improve public and population health.

In December, the organization added a new Senior Director, Elizabeth Cope, Ph.D., M.P.H., who assumes leadership of AcademyHealth’s programs and initiatives in public health, and welcomed public health and policy expert Ed Hunter, M.A., as its most recent senior scholar. AcademyHealth recently joined with APHA to host the latter organization’s Policy Action Institute in conjunction with AcademyHealth’s annual National Health Policy Conference (NHPC).

These developments reflect the reality that our health and health system outcomes depend upon much more than what happens in clinical care. Building on AcademyHealth’s prior work in public and population health, new staff will further support the connection between evidence producers and users.

“AcademyHealth has a long history of working with our members to explore how to improve and use research methods and data to understand public health issues and then translate that knowledge into evidence-based interventions in the delivery of public health and broader community programs,” said AcademyHealth President and CEO Dr. Lisa Simpson. “Collaboration is so important to what we do every day, and we see a real opportunity in these new efforts.”

In her new role, Dr. Cope will collaborate with experts and key stakeholders to review the state of existing evidence, identify barriers to progress, and prioritize and pursue courses of action to strengthen the use of evidence in health policy and practice. This work will build on Dr. Cope’s experience in the social determinants of health, cross-sector collaboration, and learning health systems as well as her long-term engagement in AcademyHealth’s Public Health Services Research Interest Group.

As Senior Scholar, Hunter will draw on his expertise as a leader in public health, community health, and governmental programs to advise and support AcademyHealth staff working on issues at the juncture of public health, health care, and social determinants of health. In addition, he will use his time at AcademyHealth to develop special projects further advance the ways in which return on investment can be measured, explained and used to inform public health decision-making.

“As someone who has worked in organizations that generate evidence, as well as in positions involving decision-making on policy and programs, I see my role at AcademyHealth as bringing real-world perspective to questions of evidence use and translation,” said Hunter. “I want to help answer the question, ‘how do you explain and translate data and evidence in ways that make it easy to act upon?’”

That’s a question that is central to AcademyHealth’s mission, and one that is regularly highlighted through the NHPC. This year the meeting expands its public health focus to include an adjunct meeting with the American Public Health Association’s Policy Action Institute. “Public Health Under Siege: Improving Policy in Turbulent Times” will amplify the role of data and evidence in addressing public health policy challenges.

Said Dr. Simpson, “Our colleagues at the APHA share in our commitment to use evidence to improve health and heath care, and we’re excited to work with them this year to bridge from our meeting--which looks at the broad spectrum of health policy issues facing the nation’s leaders--to theirs, which really digs deeply into critical public health issues like environmental health, violence prevention, immigrant children's health and women's health.”

Together, the new staff and partnership reflect AcademyHealth’s commitment to connecting research to implementation and to leveraging the power of partnership to address complex policy and public health issues.