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Ligia Paina, PhD

  • Assistant Professor

Departmental Affiliations

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street
Room E8541
Baltimore, Maryland 21205


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PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2014
MHS, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2008
BA, Albion College, 2005


My educational background is in international studies and global public health systems.  My research aims to improve understanding of how to intervene in complex systems in order to ensure quality and affordable health care access, particularly for poor, rural, and underserved populations.  I am interested in applying multi- and trans- disciplinary approaches to strengthen organizational and research capacity, to improve health workforce management and policy, and to understand system adaptation, particularly in health systems in transition. 

In terms of research methods, I have experience with both qualitative and quantitative research and am particularly interested in applying systems thinking tools and approaches to public health (e.g. system conceptualization tools, system dynamics, network analysis, and participatory strategies). Prior to joining the faculty, I have worked in both private sector and bilateral agency environments.  

Currently, I am teaching Systems thinking in public health


Honors and Awards

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars – Title VIII Short Term Fellowship: Eastern European Studies – 2014
Johns Hopkins Lipitz Policy Fund Public Health Policy Pilot Award – 2011
Albion College Top 10 in 2010 Young Alumni Award – 2010
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health - Health Systems Award – 2010
USAID Global Health Bureau Exemplary Achievement – 2009
Albert Schweitzer Baltimore Fellowship – 2007-2008 
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Departmental Scholarship – 2006-2008
John Snow Inc. Award in International Health – 2006
President Bernard T. Lomas Project 250 Leadership Award – 2002 & 2003
Albion College Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Summer Research Grant – 2004
Albion College Prentiss M. Brown Honors Institute Member – 2001-2005
Albion College Presidential Scholarship Recipient – 2001-2005 

  • Health systems strengthening, human resources for health, health workforce policy, health workforce management, systems thinking, complexity, research capacity development, working with underserved populations in the US or abroad, low and middle-income countries, Eastern Europe, Romania

Selected publications

  • Paina L, Bennett S, Ssengooba F, Peters D. Advancing the application of systems thinking in health: exploring dual practice and its management in Kampala, Uganda Health Res Policy Syst. 2014 Aug 18;12(1):41

  • Bishai D, Paina L, Li Q, Peters D, Hyder A. Advancing the application of systems thinking in health: Why cure crowds out prevention – a systems dynamics model. Health Res Policy Syst. 2014 Jun 16;12(1):28. 

  • Paina L, Ssengooba F, Waswa D, M'imunya JM, Bennett S. How does investment in research training affect the development of research networks and collaborations? Health Res Policy Syst. 2013 May 20;11:18. 

  • Paina L, Peters DH. Understanding pathways for scaling up health services through the lens of complex adaptive systems. Health Policy Plan. 2012 Aug;27(5):365-73.

  • Paina L, Baker TD. Reverse foreign aid to Maryland revisited. Md Med. 2007 Summer;8(3):7-9.