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Grant will help Ohio public health officials study reach, effectiveness, efficiency, equity of practices

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to create the Ohio Research Association for Public Health Improvement, a research network for public health professionals in Ohio.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to create the Ohio Research Association for Public Health Improvement, a research network for public health professionals in Ohio.

The grant, $90,000 over two years, was one of seven practice-based research networks awarded this year, making the school of medicine one of only 12 networks nationwide.

“With increasing threats to public health and safety from emerging infections such as H1N1, climate change and infections spread through the food chain, the need for public health is greater and more visible than ever,” said Dr. Scott Frank, co-principal investigator on the grant, director of the Case Medical School’s Master of Public Health program and health commissioner for Shaker Heights, Ohio.

“Finding solutions to health problems such as chronic disease, obesity, mental health and substance abuse will depend on an effective public health system,” Frank said in a written statement.

Public Health Practice-Based Research Networks is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that supports the development of research networks for studying the reach, effectiveness, efficiency and equity of public health practice. A practice-based research network brings together many public health agencies to design and implement studies in real-world practice settings.

The Ohio network is is supposed to enable local health departments and their communities from across the state to collaborate on cutting-edge research to address the ever changing health challenges facing the nation. Network members will investigate: what public health does; how public health does what it does; how well public health does what it does; what public health is not doing that it should be doing; and how public health can do what it does better.

All Ohio health departments are invited to participate in the network. Matt Carroll, director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, said the network would help officials test the effectiveness of their interventions and to identify interventions for public health problems like obesity. Such a network also could help local health departments figure out how well they perform, said Carroll, who helped write the proposal for the grant.

Matt Stefanak, health commissioner, Mahoning County District Board of Health, is the other co-principal investigator on the grant.