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Join JUNTOS and Other KU Medical Center Programs for Hispanic Heritage Month Events

September 27, 2022

Please Join JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health, the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Office of International Programs, and the Alzheimer's Research Disease Center in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. They are hosting an in person event on September 29 and an online event on October 13.

Black Babies in Kansas are more likely to die than White Babies, and the Pandemic Made Things Worse

September 14, 2022

Dr. Sharla Smith, director of the Kansas Birth Equity Network, along with other birth equity experts discuss the disparities that she has seen in Birth Equity within the state of Kansas. Black families run into more barriers in accessing health care before, during and after pregnancy, said Sharla Smith, a professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center who directs the Kansas Birth Equity Network. And the care those families get, she said, is often worse than what white families can expect. 

Dr. Megha Ramaswamy Announced as a Recipient of the Excellence in Mentoring Award

September 12, 2022

Dr. Megha Ramaswamy was named this year's recipient of the Excellence in Mentoring Award selected by the School of medicine Mentoring Award Committee. As noted in her award letter, her many letters of support were filled with wonderful examples of her service to the career growth of students, trainees, and faculty alike. In the School of Medicine Faculty Retreat, Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Dianne Durham, noted in particular the high number of publications that included student and trainee co-authors, and called out Megha’s strategic savvy in securing NIH Supplement funding to enable her mentees to participate in research by leveraging funding awards dedicated to this purpose. As a recipient of this prestigious award, Megha has earned membership in The University of Kansas School of Medicine – Society of Distinguished Mentors.

Join us for the Birth Equity Summit & Celebrate Day 366

September 6, 2022

Join Kansas Bithy Equity Network for their Birth Equity Summit on Friday September 9th from 9 am to 12:30 pm. This year The Birth Equity Summit will include a keynote from Dr. Dana-Ain Davis, a parent panel of fathers and birthing persons, presentations on matenal and child health work in the region, mental health, and closes with a black healing and restoration session.

When Community Members Become Messengers for Health

August 11, 2022

Dr Elizabeth Ablah and others from the Wichita community were highlighted on their efforts to help the community combat COVID-19. The RADx team utilized the experience of a handful of organizers over the past year, showing how everyday people with the right skills can connect within our communities to advance healthy outcomes. Reputation and community standing are major factors in effecting change, according to Adrienne Byrne, director of Sedgwick County’s health department, and Elizabeth Ablah, a professor with the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita who has been involved in a number of research projects related to achieving healthier populations.

KBEN Featured in PCORI Engagment Award Monthly Digest for June 2022

July 15, 2022

PCORI interviews Dr. Sharla Smith about KBEN and what her project's goals and achievements are. You can also listen to a parent who participated with KBEN and Dr. Sharla Smith speak about their experiences on The Medical Care Blog Podcast.

Varenicline Increases Smoking Cessation Rates for African American Smokers

June 14, 2022

African Americans have been underrepresented in tobacco treatment research, including the clinical trials that led to the 2006 FDA approval of varenicline, the leading pharmacological treatment for smoking cessation commonly known by the brand name Chantix. Meanwhile, African Americans suffer higher rates of smoking-related disease and death despite smoking ­fewer cigarettes per day than white Americans

The Tainted History of Infant Care, Parent Empowerment and Education

June 7, 2022

The ongoing infant formula shortages across the nation have resurfaced age-old inequities in maternal health care across racial and socioeconomic lines. Shalese Clay, program manager at Cradle KC, is focused on informing the policy behind maternal health care and justice. Clay said the group recently launched the Maternal Community Health Worker Initiative because of the worsening mortality rates among mothers and infants of color in Kansas City. “I have to give this quote (by) Dr. Sharla Smith, (who) runs the Kansas Birth Equity Network. She put it so simply: ‘Birth outcomes were better during slavery than they are today,’” Clay said. 

Congratulations to Faculty Approved for Promotion and Tenure

June 2, 2022

Congratulations to our faculty in the Population Health Department who were approved for promotion and tenure:

  • Tami Gurley, Ph.D. was promoted to Professor, previously tenured
  • Sharla Smith, Ph.D., MPH was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure
  • Vicki Collie-Akers, Ph.D., MPH was promoted to Associate Professor awarded tenure
  • Hayrettin Okut, Ph.D. was promoted to Research Professor (Research Track)

Dr. Sharla Smith Appointed to REACH Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors

June 1, 2022

Dr. Sharla Smith was appointed by Governor Kelly to the REACH Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors for a three year term effective June 1, 2022. REACH Healthcare Foundation is a multi-million dollar charitable foundation that strives to improve health coverage and access to quality, affordable health care for uninsured and medically underserved people. It has provided funding for KU Medical Center research and programming to help address health disparities in Wyandotte County.

Congratulations to Alumni Dr. Ithar Hassaballa

May 19, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Ithar Hassabala who was chosen as one of this year's 40 Under 40 Public Health Catalyst Award recipients from the Boston Congress of Public Health. This prestigious award is given to recognize awardees exceptional talents, potentiality, devotion, and/or contributions to the field of public health, health equity, and/or social justice. Dr. Hassabala is committed to the health and wellbeing of historically resilient (e.g., African, Black) populations globally, specifically in the United States, Africa, and the Middle East. She is currently the COPE Evaluation Project Manager at the Department of Family Medicine at KUMC. Some of her other efforts have included leading the evaluation of a Type-2 diabetes projects in 20 U.S. communities, Ebola Response effort in Liberia, youth violence prevention in Kansas City, and COVID-19 in 20 Kansas counties. 

(S)HE Stories Student Documentary: Incarceration to Empowerment

May 18, 2022

Population health graduate students Katie Russell and Sydney Wells wrote and edited a short documentary about the Sexual Health Empowerment Team ladies and projects. The film places women's health in the context of mass incarceration.

JUNTOS Awarded the Team Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

May 16, 2022

Congratulations to the entire JUNTOS team for their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team Award from the University of Kansas Medical Center.  This award recognizes the achievements of individuals, departments and organizations to create a more culturally diverse, competent and inclusive KU Medical Center community. It is hard to overstate the incredible amount of work that JUNTOS has done over the years to advance diversity, equity and inclusion with efforts that extend beyond just the regional Latinx community.  Their work over the past two years in response to the COVID epidemic has been particularly impactful and has made a real difference, breaking down barriers and saving lives in our community.

Dr. Simon Craddock Lee Chosen as Chair for the Department of Population Health

May 13, 2022

Simon Craddock Lee, Ph.D., MPH, has been chosen as chair and Sosland Family Professor in Preventive Medicine in the Department of Population Health in the School of Medicine at the University of Kansas, effective July 1, 2022. While engaged in many facets of population health research, Lee’s expertise lies in implementation science and health care delivery research in cancer prevention and control. 

Dr. Sharla Smith Discusses Women's Health for National Women's Health Week

May 12, 2022

National Women's Health Week starts each year on mother's day, this week is to encourage women and girls to reflect on their health needs. Dr. Sharla Smith joined her colleagues on KU Medical Center's Morning Medical Update to discuss women's health disparities.

Policy Changes Could Address Disparities for Kansas Mothers and Children

May 9, 2022

The Governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice examined maternal and child health, early childhood development and child care to understand how to address systemic issues that affect education attainment, economic opportunity and health across Kansas. To address opportunity gaps, the commission’s final report made recommendations in the areas of early education and care and maternal and child health care.

Addressing disparities can begin earlier with implementation of programs for parents, community members, and providers that focus on birth equity, training providers to avoid implicit bias as part of the birthing process and empowering parents to seek culturally appropriate care. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment should partner with community-based groups like the Kansas Birth Equity Network to offer their evidence-based birth equity training to mothers and families.

KU Researchers to Analyze How Climate Change Intersects With Race, Inequality, and Health Outcomes

April 21, 2022

As climate change causes extreme temperatures, droughts, poor air quality, flooding and sea level rise, health outcomes for people living in affected areas suffer. Researchers at the University of Kansas are launching a new effort to determine how climate change interacts with health inequity in communities with high levels of segregation, economic and social disadvantages. Dorothy Daley and Jarron Saint Onge, co-principal invesitgators theorize that climate-related health outcomes will vary by county-level race/ethnicity and that communities with inequalities are more likely to experience worse exposures and outcomes from climate-related events.

Juntos Center for Advanding Latino Health Hosted Safe Soccer Clinics for Vaccinated Children

April 20, 2022

Juntos Center for Advancing Latino Health, based in the Department of Population Health, recently collaborated with community partners to host safe soccer clinics for vaccinated children in Wyandotte County. In total, almost 100 vaccinated kids participated in the four-day event, organized in collaboration with the Unified Government Public Health Department to promote physical health and vaccination.

Dr. Sharla Smith Discusses Why African American Women Are More Likely to Die During Childbirth

April 13, 2022

Dr. Sharla Smith joined Dr. Stites and Marcia Houpe, CNM on April 13 to discuss her efforts and findings from Kansas Birth Equity Network.  To hear more please tune in here.

Kansas Birth Equity Network Invites You to Celebrate Black Maternal Health Week

April 7, 2022

The week of April 11-17th is Black Maternal Health Week. To celebrate this week Kansas Birth Equity Network and KUMC Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are hosting an event: "Take Root and End Silence: A Reproductive Justice Conversation" on Thursday April 14th at 5:30 PM. To find out more about this event please see the flyer.

Kansans Doctors Praise Federal COVID-19 Funding for Underserved Communities

April 5, 2022

Doctors at a Kansas hospital say a half-billion-dollar federal grant is helping combat COVID-19 in communities across the state most disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Using funds from the National Institute of Health Rapid Acceleration and Diagnostics in Underserved Populations program grant, the University of Kansas Health System leaders say they have been able to engage with communities in need. Dr. Ed Ellerbeck, chairman of population health at KU Medical Center, said the hospital held more than 500 testing events and delivered almost 50,000 tests in underserved communities. Dr. Ellerbeck said the core of the effort was to reassure Kansans about their ability to work with the health care system and combat misinformation. 

Congratulations to Dr. Christie Befort on Another RO1 Grant Award

April 4, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Christie Befort and team on their recent RO1 Grant: iAmHealthy Parents First awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). iAmHealthy Parents First will be used to test the effect of intervening with parents first in an adult-focused behavioral weight loss program tailored for parents of elementary age children, followed by family-based treatment for the child(ren). This approach will be compared to family-based treatment only, on weight loss among both parents and children with obesity.

Congratulations to Dr. Megha Ramaswamy on her UO1 Grant Award

March 29, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Megha Ramaswamy and team on their recent UO1 Grant: Localized mHealth approach to boosting COVID-19 testing and vaccine literacy, access, and uptake among women with criminal legal system involvement. For this grant the team will engage women with criminal legal system involvement as stakeholders to study regional and individual differences in COVID-19 testing and vaccine literacy, access, and uptake. Dr. Ramaswamy and team will use findings to rapidly develop an mHealth intervention focused on COVID-19 literacy, and then push the intervention to CLSI women in three cities (Oakland, Birmingham, Kansas City) to boost COVID-19 literacy, testing, access, and uptake, and vaccination. Findings will be used to develop dissemination strategies with stakeholders to push the mHealth intervention to the two million women and 11 million men who interface with the criminal legal system annually in the U.S.

Congratulations to Dr. Christie Befort on her RO1 Grant Award

March 25, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Christie Befort and team on their recent RO1 Grant: Rural Engagment in TelemedTeam for Options in Obesity Treatment Solutions (RE-TOOL) awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). RE-TOOL will test a novel collaborative team-based telemedicine approach for obesity treatment. This Treatment combines intensive group-based telemedicine visits with quarterly clinic-based telemedicine team visits with the lifestyle coach and PCP, versus Enhanced Usual Care, on weight loss at 24 months among patients in rural primary care clinics.

New Digital Program Targets Uncontrolled Diabetes in Black Community

March 14, 2022

A new clinical trial is using digital tools to teach underserved communities how to keep type 2 diabetes in check. “I see eDECIDE as something someone can carry in their pocket, or at home, or any place where they have a digital device, as a tool they can use to help them,” Dr. Redmond says.

KU clinical trial seeks Black Wichita residents with diabetes

March 1, 2022

Dr. Redmond and her team are looking for 70 trial participants who are African American and live in the Wichita Area with uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes. This 18-week program aims to help people troubleshoot the daily situations that stand between them and better health.

Thousands of COVID home tests sent to 20 Kansas counties as part of COPE, a $13 million grant to improve community health

February 22, 2022

Faculty, staff and students at KU Medical Center recently prepared and shipped 22,500 COVID-19 rapid home test kits to 20 Kansas counties. The kits were part of a new, wider community health initiative managed by KU Medical Center called Communities Organizing to Promote Equity, made possible through a grant from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment with CDC funding.

Tami Gurley Named Top 20 to Know in Health Care by Kansas City Business Journal

February 18, 2022

Tami Gurley was named as one of the Top 20 to know in Kansas City Business Journal's 2022 Keeping KC Healthy article. The article highlights her expertise in population health and pulling meaning out of data. Dr. Gurley used this expertise to develop forecasting models to predict the spread of COVID-19 in Kansas and contributed regularly to updates durring the pandemic.

KU School of Medicine creates Salina-based Kansas Center for Rural Health

February 10, 2022

The new Kansas Center for Rural Health in Salina will enable partners to work together to reduce or eliminate health disparities in rural Kansas. “The center will work with rural physicians, providers and health systems to improve access and support quality health care for rural Kansans while considering the unique social and economic factors that determine health outcomes for people in rural areas,” says Dr. Robert Moser, dean of KU School of Medicine-Salina, who will lead the center.

Congratulations to Alumni Dr. Marvia Jones

February 4, 2022

Dr. Marvia Jones has been appointed Director for the Kansas City Health Department and will assume her new Duties on February 14, 2022. Jones previously served as the Violence Prevention and Policy Manager for the Health Department and earned both her Master of Public Health and her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.

KU School of Medicine- Wichita seeking Participants for Diabetes Research Program

January 31, 2022

KU School of Medicine-Wichita is seeking African American participants 18 years or older who have uncontrolled diabetes and access to the internet for an 18-week study. Participants will use the eDECIDE program, created to provide an online, easy access solution to diabetes self-management using problem-solving skill training. eDECIDE delivers a self-guided program focused on helping adults develop problem-solving skills to manage Type 2 diabetes. Participants will be compensated for their time.

For more information, contact Michelle Redmond, Ph.D., at or Upasana Banerjee at 316-293-1817 or  

Kansas Women Ask for Better Study of Childbirth Deaths

January 20, 2022

Dr. Sharla Smith gave expert testimony to the Kansas State Legislature to advocate for the lawmakers to add pregnancy complications and near death experiences to the childbirth related deaths the state commission reviews every year.

School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
Population Health
Mail Stop 1008
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160
Fax: 913-588-2780