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The Office of Public Health Practice & Training

Lipitz Public Health Policy Fund Awards

The Office of Public Health Practice and Training-in collaboration with the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management's Public Health Practice Committee-initiated the Lipitz Public Health Policy Fund Awards in the 2011-2012 academic year.

The awards provide support for innovative policy projects that engage policy makers, agencies, community-based organizations, or other partners to contribute to the development of policy solutions to public health problems. Supported projects are led by graduate students and faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Up to five grants for student public health policy projects are awarded (up to $1,000 for masters level projects in public health policy such as Capstone or other special studies projects, and up to $3,000 for doctoral level projects in public health policy). $2,000 to $5,000 grants are available to support faculty projects in U.S. public health policy (e.g., policy development or policy analysis for policy makers or outside partners).

These policy grants aim to promote innovative, interdisciplinary projects that will advance public health policy via engagement in the policy process, dissemination, field research or public health practice. Projects may concentrate on any phase of the policy process, including policy development, implementation, or evaluation, as well as promotion of evidence-based public health policies.

2013-2014 Award Recipients


caleb alexander

G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS, Associate Professor, Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, Department of Epidemiology, Prescription Drug Abuse: A Nationally Representative Survey of Practicing Physicians

Physicians often face a precarious balancing act between potential benefits and harms of prescription opioids. Through a nationally representative, U.S. mail survey of practicing primary care physicians, Dr. Alexander and his team will assess physician attitudes, beliefs, and practices regarding use of prescription opioids in clinical practice. Findings will provide vital data to regulators, payers, providers, and others about the effectiveness of recent public policy efforts to reduce opioid-related morbidity and mortality, as well as guide future interventions to best mitigate the prescription opioid epidemic. Findings will be presented at the School's Prescription Drug Abuse Summit to be held this spring.


Roni Neff, PhD, MS, Program Director, Food System Sustainability and Public Health, Center for a Livable Future, Assistant Scientist, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Addressing Food Waste Through Federal Policy: Focus Groups to Identify Optimal Language for Food Date Labels

According to the USDA, Americans waste nearly 40 percent of food available at the retail and consumer levels. Evidence suggests that food date labels (e.g., use-by, sell-by), which play a key role in consumer decisions about when to throw out food, are frequently misunderstood. U.S.-based evidence regarding language for a revised system of food date labels is currently lacking. Dr. Neff and her team will facilitate and analyze focus group responses to test food date label language options. They will consider quality-based and safety-based date labels and will seek input on several label formats.

meghan mcginty

Meghan McGinty, MPH, MBA, CPH, PhD Candidate, Department of Health Policy and Management, Decision-Making During Disasters: A Case Study of Hurricane Sandy Hospital Evacuation/Shelter-in-Place Decision-Making Processes

Public health leaders and other officials face complex decisions about how to protect the public's health and safety in light of the increasing number and severity of natural disasters. One of the most tragic lessons of Hurricane Katrina is that hospitals can be a dangerous - evenly deadly - place to remain during large-scale disasters. Yet, evacuation of hospital patients is risky. This project will provide new insights into how public officials and hospital administrators make decisions during emergencies through an analysis of evacuation or shelter in hospital decision making during Hurricane Sandy.

2012-2013 Award Recipients


Christie Balch, Part-time MPH Candidate, Evaluation of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Rebate Program in Wisconsin

Christie will evaluate an innovative community supported agriculture (CSA) rebate program in Wisconsin in which health insurance companies provide rebates to their members who sign up for CSA shares. Since the program's inception in 2000, the number of CSA shares sold in Wisconsin has dramatically increased-over 7 times. Joining a CSA can increase vegetable consumption, and subsidizing the cost of a CSA can make it accessible to families who might not otherwise subscribe. Several Maryland organizations have expressed interest in replicating this program; the award from the Lipitz Public Health Policy Fund Award will help us evaluate the Wisconsin program and then begin to investigate this possibility in Maryland.

Christie is thrilled to work on this issue because it includes an innovative pricing incentive for fresh, healthy produce while serving as an economic stimulus for small-scale sustainable farms. Her hope is that this work will lead to increased vegetable consumption from more sustainable and economically viable farms, resulting in healthier people and healthier land in Maryland.


Dustin Gibson, PhD Candidate, Global Disease Control and Epidemiology, Randomized Controlled Trial of the Impact of Mobile Phone Delivered Reminders and Travel Subsidies to Improve Childhood Immunization Coverage Rates and Timeliness in Western Kenya

Throughout lower income countries, timeliness and uptake of vaccines are often problematic. Dustin will conduct a 144 village-randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test whether mobile phone short message system (SMS) reminders, either with or without mobile-phone based travel subsidies will improve timeliness, coverage, and drop-out rates of pentavalent vaccines in rural western Kenya. In addition, this project will assess measles coverage, scheduled to be given at 9 months and no incentive or reminder paired with it, to see if the interventions' effects persist. Dustin will be collaborating with the Kenya Medical Research Institute and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEMRI/CDC) with co-investigators from the Kenyan Division of Immunization and Vaccination (DVI) and guidance on scalability from the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation and the Director of the Division of Family Health.

Too often study trials are conducted, published, and left on a bookshelf. This study design, however, is being conducted with scalability in mind by actively seeking input and guidance from Kenyan government stake holders such that if the intervention works, it is more likely to be adopted. Dustin is thankful for the Lipitz Public Health Policy Fund Award because the support with help these discussions to occur, collaborations to strengthen, and new partnerships to emerge.


Lucy Marcil, MPH/MD Candidate, Preparation of a Field Guide for Establishing Community Partnerships, Mapping, and Census Taking in Slum Communities by the BRAC Manoshi Project in Urban Bangladesh

Lucy's project examines the role of community engagement, social mapping and census taking during the establishment of the BRAC Manoshi Project, a maternal-child health project for urban slum communities in Bangladesh. The main objective of the project is to better understand the degree to which these methods contribute to the success of community-based urban health projects and to write a field manual that other NGOs can use to replicate these methods while creating similar urban slum health programs. To achieve these goals, Lucy traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh for three weeks. During this time, she interviewed six project officials at BRAC, a major development organization, undertook a field visit to one of the urban slum sites, and gathered information and data on the project that BRAC has compiled.

Lucy is excited to have had the opportunity to travel to Bangladesh for research on the Manoshi project, which has allowed her to learn about a cutting edge urban slum health program and to contribute to institutional knowledge about this program. Her hope is that the field guide resulting from this project will impact policy surrounding urban slum maternal-child health programs. Without the Lipitz Public Health Policy Fund Award, this work would not have been possible.


Brian Wahl, MPH Candidate, Factors Affecting Policy Decisions Around the Introduction of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine and Rotavirus Vaccine in National Immunization Programs

Vaccines are an important component of efforts to reduce the global burden of pneumonia and diarrhea in children. Unfortunately, the impact of new vaccines has been limited by, among other factors, lack of sufficient access in countries where the vaccines are needed most. Brian's research utilizes applied statistical methods to identify factors associated with policy decisions related to the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) and rotavirus vaccine. The aim of this project is to better understand policymaking challenges to help inform vaccine introduction strategies that could minimize unnecessary delays. Brian will be traveling to Geneva, Switzerland to conduct this research in collaboration with individuals at the GAVI Alliance - a global public-private partnership focused on expanding access to vaccines in the world's poorest countries.

Pneumonia and diarrhea are the leading causes of death globally among children less than five years of age. Brian is excited to have the opportunity to further explore the challenges around access to new vaccines that could dramatically reduce child morbidity and mortality associated with these two diseases. He is also thankful that the Lipitz Public Health Policy Fund Award will allow him to pursue this research while working closely with global leaders in the field of immunization.

2011-2012 Award Recipients


Adele Houghton, part-time MPH Candidate, Prevalence of Green Building Strategies Reducing Localized Climate Change Vulnerabilities

Adele Houghton studied the link between the effects of climate change and the amount of green building projects in Austin, TX and Chicago, IL. Her study used spatial multiple logistic regression to analyze the strength of association at the neighborhood level between the prevalence of green building design strategies promoting climate change resilience and vulnerability to flooding and/or extreme heat events. The resulting Health Impact Assessment outlined recommendations for prioritizing green building strategies with the highest probability of enhancing neighborhood resilience to extreme heat and/or flooding events.

Through this project, Adele discovered how complicated a simple research question can become when you start delving into the details. She is very grateful for the Lipitz Scholarship, as it supported the application of her study findings in a real-life policy context. The findings will be presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting as a model for integrating climate change considerations into the green building process.


Linnea Laestadius, PhD Candidate, Department of Health Policy and Management, Livestock Production, Meat and Dairy Consumption, and Climate Change: A Grounded Theory of NGO Responses

Linnea Laestadius seeks to understand what shapes non-governmental organization (NGO) responses to the evidence that meat consumption contributes to climate change. In addition to developing a theory explaining these responses, she is working to develop recommendations for researchers and advocates who seek more political action and public education on the issue. More specifically, she is exploring how NGOs in the United States, Canada, and Sweden have engaged with meat consumption and climate change, and is also working to understand the barriers that have prevented groups from addressing this topic further. Additionally, she is examining the motivations underlying specific messaging choices on the matter. The findings from this work will be relevant to other emerging questions that would benefit from NGO engagement.

This project has taught her that addressing behavior change is often seen to be challenging and not always a priority for many environmental NGOs, which raises questions about the best approach to changing norms about diets, transportation, and water use in light of environmental concerns. Linnea's research was recently presented at the JHU Homewood campus.


Susan Lynch, DrPH Candidate, Department of Health Policy and Management, Studying Evidence-Based Guidelines for Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease and Developing an Education Campaign for the Medical and Public Health Communities and the Public at Large Regarding the Benefits of Early Detection

Susan Lynch reviewed evidence-based interventions and best practices for early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and made recommendations for potential public health education campaigns (in collaboration with the Public Policy Office of the Alzheimer's Association in Washington, DC). The final product will include a work plan to educate the general public as well as the public health and medical communities on the benefits of early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

Through this project, Susan learned the importance of defining the scope of a policy project upfront, as well as defining key terms and reference points for a policy project. For example, "early" detection of disease can mean different things to different people. When completed, the Work Plan Final Report will be presented at two conference meetings of the Alzheimer's Association in New York and Washington, DC.


Ligia Paina, PhD Candidate, Department of International Health, Dual Practice in Uganda: A Mixed Methods Study on Policy and Management

Ligia Paina examined dual practice policy and management in Kampala, Uganda. Ligia began with a description of dual practice policy and management followed by an analysis of public sector health provider preferences. The work contributes evidence to the dialogue on health workforce issues in Uganda and may offer a model for other settings as well. She interviewed health providers and facility leadership at five public sector facilities in Kampala, as well as stakeholders from professional associations, the private not-for-profit sector, the private for profit sector, and policy-makers in Kampala. These interview findings provided the basis for the choice experiment questionnaire.

This project has taught her the importance of history and politics to Uganda's contemporary issues in health workforce management, as well as the need for collaboration with local researchers. Ligia is very grateful for the Lipitz funding, as well as the support from mentors and co-workers in Uganda. The qualitative findings from this work will be presented at the Health Systems Research Symposium in Beijing.