National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services & Systems Research Awards Nine Junior Investigator Grants


LEXINGTON, KY- Nine promising investigators have been awarded grants to conduct research that will provide public health practitioners with valuable information – evidence that will in particular help guide financial and workforce decisions critical to the future of the public health system in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.

The National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research’s (PHSSR) sixth round of Junior Investigator Awards will not only produce evidence needed by the public health community, but also will help develop new qualified investigators in PHSSR. The field aims to examine the organization, financing and delivery of public health services.

Made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the $10,000, one-year awards to doctoral candidates and junior faculty give awardees an opportunity to work closely with prominent PHSSR experts as they launch their careers. The studies are set to be completed by spring 2014.

Over the past five years, the National Coordinating Center has awarded more than 30 grants to junior PHSSR investigators. Find out more here about them and their research.

“We are beginning to see the results of our earlier rounds of Junior Investigator Awards,” said F. Douglas Scutchfield, M.D., director of the National Coordinating Center for PHSSR. “Our junior investigators are growing into senior investigators and leaders in public health research generally, and PHSSR specifically.”

The 2013 PHSSR Junior Investigator Award recipients (in alphabetical order according to institution) are:

East Tennessee State University – Robin Pendley

Goal: To determine if the competencies of the local health department public health workforce impact the provision of services and health outcomes in Tennessee. The study may provide preliminary evidence of the value of needs assessment data in decision-making for resource allocation, educational training of public health workers, and improving the health of the states.

Regents of the University of Michigan – Angela Beck

Goal: To determine how the size and composition of the state and local public health workforce varies over time by state and community types, enabling public health officials and policy-makers to get a sense of how the distribution of their workforce has changed over time and how it compares to the workforce composition in states with similar characteristics.

Regents of the University of Michigan – Simone Singh

Goal: To investigate characteristics of public health delivery systems that influence the productivity and efficiency with which public health strategies are delivered at the local level. The findings will allow public health officials to implement changes in their organizations aimed at improving the allocation of scarce resources and focus on those investments with the largest effects on population health outcomes.

The Research Foundation for The State University of New York – Christopher Maylahn

Goal: To assess the sustainability of the local health department-hospital collaborations in New York, which may shed light on how well these collaborations may fare under the Affordable Care Act. Maylahn will be working with the New York Public Health Practice-Based Research Network on this project.

Temple University – Fanta Waterman Purayidathil

Goal: To better characterize the structure and organization of foodborne disease outbreaks reporting systems for surveillance at the state level, in an effort to identify areas to improve the quality of data collected.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – Michael Preston

Goal: To provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of health care reform on overall colorectal cancer screening, disparities in screening, and the role of provider recommendation in mediating these efforts.

University of Memphis – Erik Carlton

Goal: To study the integration of public health and medical care systems in one urban county, based on principles in the 2012 Institute of Medicine report on integrating public health and primary care.

University of Rochester – Theresa Green

Goal: To explore common methods for financially quantifying value in the public health system, applying these methods to real-world examples, including a quality improvement intervention, an academic-public health partnership, and a new model of care delivery for high blood pressure.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – Kaja Abbas

Goal: To determine the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of fungal meningitis outbreak investigation in New River Health District, and determine the impact of this outbreak investigation.


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About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable and timely change. For 40 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit


About the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research

The goal of the National Coordinating Center is to grow the field of PHSSR by coordinating current PHSSR investments, supporting real-world applications, and strengthening the capacity of researchers and practitioners. The Center also works to determine the future direction of the field’s research initiatives; translate that research into practice; increase the visibility of the work; and attract other funders to the field. For more information, visit