Skip to main content.


KU Kudos: Jayhawk faculty and staff acheivements, June 2024

June 17, 2024

Congratulations to Dr. Babalola Faseru, professor of population health, who received a national distinction award from the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco for his outstanding work and contributions in the field.

Immunize Kansas Coalition highlights women's health at Spanish-language predominat conference in Kansas City

June 13, 2024

The Immunize Kansas Coalition (IKC) has taken the next step in building health equity by reaching diverse communities across the state by hosting Entre Mujeres: The Health of Women, the first Spanish-language predominant conference in Kansas City. The program hosted in late April brought in speakers highlighting prenatal and infant care initiatives, cancer prevention education, cancer survivor stories, and a motivational speaker session.

Speaker Dr. Sharla A. Smith, Ph.D., MPH, an associate professor in population health at the University of Kansas Health System shared, “I am so honored that I had the opportunity to present at the Health of Women Summit. While it was out of my comfort zone, equity is for all,” she expressed.

Reflecting on her experience graduate student Stephania Lopez of Newman University shared, “This event was evidence of the power of engagement and sharing experiences and information to inspire each other to better serve our community. At this conference, black and brown people felt empowered. Their healthcare needs and discrepancies were voiced. Dr. Sharla Smith’s presentation moved me. We do not talk about these issues enough. I am inspired to continue to share and be a catalyst for change.”

Lawrence health department hosted an event on local opioid overdoses, resources

June 3, 2024

In Novemeber of 2023 Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health launched its first Public Health After Dark event on November 6, 2023 and shared information on opioid use and overdose deaths, including new local data. Dr. Dee Kinard, LDCPH senior analyst, shared statistics related to trends in opioid abuse with a focus on mortality numbers, according to Vicki Collie-Akers, PhD, MPH, CPH, director of policy and planning for LDCPH and Associate Professor in the Department of Population Health at KU Medical Center. “Our audience for this is the at-large community,” Dr. Collie-Akers said. “It is evident that this issue affects many different parts of the community — including across age groups. We hope that community members who are interested in learning more will join us next week.” A panel with representatives from partnering organizations also provided an overview of community resources and addiction services available in Douglas County.

KU establishes $11 million biomedical center to advance women’s health using big data

May 31, 2024

A new $11.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will establish a multidisciplinary biomedical center at the University of Kansas to research big data’s potential to improve women’s health. By funding research projects, supporting faculty, improving lab facilities and boosting collaboration across scholarly fields, the center will harness complex datasets to tackle biomedical issues vital to women. The leading collaborators at KU come from a range of laboratory sciences as well as behavioral and social sciences.  Five KU faculty will lead biomedical research projects, each of which could serve as a springboard to further funding opportunities. The research project leaders are Rebecca Whelan, associate professor of chemistry; Meredith Hartley, assistant professor of chemistry; Amber Watts, associate professor of psychology; Jarron Saint Onge, professor of sociology and population health; and Misty Heggeness, associate professor of public affairs & administration and associate research scientist at KU’s Institute for Policy & Social Research.

Psychiatry Ground Rounds: Early intervention in substance use disorder

April 18, 2024

Elizabeth Ablah, PhD, professor of population health, will present “Delivery of Early Intervention for Persons with Substance Use Disorders” via Zoom on April 23, 2024. Ablah will be joined by Chad Harmon, CEO of the Substance Abuse Center of Kansas.

Open Mics with Dr. Stites discusses Maternity Deserts in Kansas

April 17, 2024

More and more women are facing long drives to deliver their babies. How far is "too far" for adequate prenatal and maternity care? The challenges and solutions in ensuring every mother receives the care she deserves. Dr. Robert Moser and his colleagues from the Care Collaborative discuss what defines a maternity desert and how this impacts Kansas mothers. 

Research seeks reasons behind shortage of Black sperm donors

April 15, 2024

KU Medical Center study aims to better understand attitudes and perceptions regarding sperm donation in the African American and Black community. The research team for the project includes two KU reproductive urologists, Richard Fantus, M.D., and Ajay Nangia, M.D., who have conducted research in access to care inequities in sperm-related reproductive health, and Sharla Smith, Ph.D., MPH, a health systems and health services researcher at KU who specializes in maternal and infant health disparities and founded the Kansas Birth Equity Network. The researchers will begin to analyze the data they are collecting later this summer. Marsh said there is a wide range of problems that she expects to be identified in the focus groups, including a lack of awareness about donating sperm, issues with meeting screening criteria to donate, and concerns about having a third-party handle genetic material and about [perceived] attitudes in the community about donating.

Learn More About the Implementation Science Core

April 10, 2024

Implementation Science is a growing priority for funding and research institutions and Frontiers Implementation Science Core has been busy working with Frontiers members to take this next step in their research, which can include providing feedback, helping with strategies to implement their science, web tools, articles, identifying  a network of possible collaborators and more. “Implementation Science is vitally important,” Ellis said. “Many evidence-based health care interventions fail to produce successful outcomes when implemented into practice. It’s not enough to create the best therapies, we have to ensure that they are effectively delivered within clinical and community practice. Because a healthcare intervention that is 100% efficacious, but never used, is actually 0% effective.

Kansas Population Center seminar series to feature speaker on economic barriers to contraception

April 8, 2024

The Kansas Population Center will showcase new research from the Michigan Contraceptive Access, Research and Evaluation Study at an upcoming virtual event at the University of Kansas. Principal investigator Martha Bailey will present “M-CARES: Evidence from the First Two Years” at 1 p.m. April 15. “Dr. Bailey’s research addresses key population health issues by focusing first and foremost on reproductive health needs, but additionally considers the role of cost-sharing and health care spending. Understanding differential access and affordability of contraception are increasingly important topics in current U.S. health disparities debates, especially in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid such as Kansas,” said Jarron Saint Onge, professor of sociology and population health and co-director of the Kansas Population Center.

Kansas mothers of color have worse outcomes. Advocates talk in-state maternity, legislative goals

April 2, 2024

Kansas is not a safe place for Black and brown mothers to give birth. Maternal health advocates are now urging the state Legislature not to worsen the crisis.

During a recording for the Kansas Reflector podcast, Dr. Sharla Smith, the founder of the Kansas Birth Equity NetworkSapphire Garcia-Lies, the founder and executive director of Kansas Birth Justice Society, and Abriona Markham, executive director of Topeka Doula Project, shared their concerns about the Kansas maternity landscape.

Join Us for National Public Health Week Events April 1-7

March 28, 2024

The Department of Population Health's Master of Public Health Student Organization has planned numerous events and webinars with various state partners to showase all things public health. You can see the events that were p

lanned to celebrate National Public Health week here

The Big Business of Employee Well-Being

March 6, 2024

One person who is firmly convinced that most workplace wellness programs are failing to meet their goals is Elizabeth Ablah, Ph.D., MPH, a professor of population health at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. Ablah was so concerned about the apparent lack of effectiveness for most workplace wellness programs that she spent years studying where the programs fall short and how they can be improved. It was around 2011 when she and some colleagues began studying workplace wellness initiatives and concluded that the major ity of those programs were not leading to any real behavioral changes for participants and any reduction in health care costs for employers. “We started going to conferences and reading up on the policies, systems and environmental changes contained in most workplace wellness initiatives,” Ablah said. “Although the intentions of the programs were good, real cultural changes around health weren’t happening. The programs had the information to help employees, but they usually returned fairly quickly to unhealthy behaviors.”

New Study looks at making a difference in maternal and baby health

March 4, 2024

Researchers at KU School of Medicine-Wichita are looking for participants who are between weeks 24 and 30 in their pregnancy.

With maternal obesity and diabetes being major health risk factors for both moms-to-be and their unborn babies, a National Institutes of Health-funded study on whether an intervention offering professional health coaching, lifestyle changes and breastfeeding support can make a difference is underway at KU School of Medicine-Wichita. "About three out of every 10 women who become pregnant tend to be overweight and that puts them at higher risk for developing gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia, which are associated with their babies being at higher risk for low birth weight, prematurity and infant death," Lisette T Jacobson, PhD, MPA, MA said.

Integrating Special Populations Pilot Award

February 7,2024

Michelle Redmond, Ph.D., M.S., has always had an interest in women’s health and specifically looking at adverse health outcomes and how to improve them. As part of her research, she has been looking at how stress can impact women, especially African American women, and how stress, including discrimination stress, can cause negative birth outcomes. As part of the study, the team will conduct semi-structured interviews to get the women’s thoughts on whether they have considered music to help alleviate stress, the type of music they would listen to, and if they think music could be a good intervention for them while they are pregnant.

New study aims to curb obesity in rural Kansas

January 18, 2024

Rural Kansas families with elementary school-aged children who want to live a healthier lifestyle have a free opportunity to do so via a new study led by the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Known as iAmHealthy Parents First, the study is the first randomized controlled trial in the world designed to examine the effectiveness of an integrated obesity treatment program for adults and children. The program targets rural areas, which have higher rates of obesity than their urban counterparts and are thus at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and various cancers.

KUMC 13th Annual MHSA/MHA Regional Case Competition

November 27, 2023

The KUMC MHSA program was pleased to host our annual regional case competition, welcoming competitors from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Oklahoma.  This event allows students to practice solving real-world problems in the health care system, network with their peers and experienced professionals in the region, and gain experience developing and presenting a strategic plan.  Thank you to our partners, PYA, for their support, and congratulations to all the winners!

An $11.5 million grant from NIH launches Implementation Science for Equity Center at KU Medical Center

November 7, 2023

Last month, KU Medical Center was awarded a 11.5 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to identify and develop ways to implement evidence-based practices into clinical care and ensure equitable care for rural, minority and underserved populations. The project is led by Kim Richter, Ph.D., MPH and Christie Befort, Ph.D.. “About 40% of patients do not receive care consistent with current evidence-based practice,” said Befort. “What’s more, the gap between research and clinical practice tends to be even more pronounced in disadvantaged communities.” 

Researchers at KU Medical Center work to improve health and prevent chronic disease in Southwest Kansas

October 31, 2023

Researchers at the University of Kansas received $721,999 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the first year in the five-year Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program. The REACH funding will help improve health, prevent chronic diseases and reduce health disparities among Latinos, who have the highest burden of chronic disease in Grant, Finney, Ford and Seward counties. “We pursued this project because we know Southwest Kansas has a lot of rich diversity, and many Latinos there have a disproportionate risk for chronic diseases like diabetes,” said Vicki Collie-Akers, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor in the Department of Population Health in KU School of Medicine and the principal investigator for the project. “We are hopeful that we can create more equitable conditions to reduce those risks by eliminating the barriers to systems that support health and wellness.”

Researchers receive $11.5 million grant to address health disparities through implementation science

September 18, 2023

A new $11.5 million five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health will support researchers’ efforts to ensure everyone benefits from the latest research advances. The effort is led by Kimber Richter, PhD, MPH, professor of population health and director of the UKanQuit tobacco program at the University of Kansas Health System and Christie Befort, PhD, associate director of cancer prevention and control.

Dr. Dorothy Hughes recognized with Chancellor's Award

September 14, 2023

Congratulations to Dr. Dorothy Hughes who was one of four faculty members at KU Medical Center to be recognized with the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award. These awards recognize and reward demonstrated teaching excellence. The winners will be honored at the inaugural University Teaching Awards ceremony Nov. 7. "The recipients of this year's teaching awards have demonstrated an outstanding ability to help students reach their full potential. They should be proud of their contribution to the important work of our university.” - Chancellor Girod

USDA invests nearly $50 million into water infrastructure in rural Kansas

September 11, 2023

Aging infrastructure is an issue across the country — the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the country will need to spend $744 billion on water infrastructure in the next decade. It’s an especially difficult issue for rural communities that often struggle to come up with necessary funds. “A lot of it just boils down to the fact that by definition rural areas have fewer people, but a lot of the costs are still the same,” said Tom Mueller, PhD, a rural sociologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He said that programs like this exist to help address the shortfall. A study conducted by Dr. Mueller and published earlier this year found that investments in water infrastructure were associated with decreases in poverty and unemployment and increases in per capita income. The effect was stronger in counties with larger Black populations.

Kansas symposium aims to address rural maternal health issues

September 8, 2023

The five-hour Inaugural Rural Maternal Health Symposium, which starts at noon Friday, Sept. 29, will address factors that are impacting care for expectant and new mothers and their babies, with topics ranging from the financial side to the latest mental health care guidelines for new moms. The symposium is a perfect fit with the center’s mission of finding ways to reduce or eliminate health disparities in rural health through collaboration with other stakeholders passionate about rural health, according to Lynn Fisher, MD and Lisette Jacobson, Ph.D., MPA, M.A., who are helping organize the event. Jacobson is an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at KU School of Medicine-Wichita and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. She serves as the director of the Rural Health Council and is on the center’s maternal health committee.

Kansas foster care providers and staff debate ways to reduce racism in system

September 6, 2023

Dr. Sharla Smith, director and founder of the Kansas Birth Equity Network, participated in a Wednesday meeting of the Kansas Racial Equity Collaborative in August. The collaborative is a statewide initiative geared toward spreading awareness of disparities in child welfare and advocating for equity. In the state, disparities in treatment of Black children appear to start before birth. A state-by-state analysis of maternal deaths from 1999 to 2019 found consistently high risk in Kansas for Black mothers. Black Kansans had a 13.6% premature birth rate, 51% higher than rates for other demographics, and made up 14% of pregnancy-related deaths, but only 7.1% of birth rates, according to data from 2016 to 2018. 

Mothers are dying at high rates in Kansas and Missouri. Most are preventable, reports say

August 21, 2023

In Kansas, a report summary published last week by the Kansas Maternal Mortality Review Board found 105 cases in which a woman died while pregnant or within a year of pregnancy between 2016 and 2020. It determined that 29 of those were determined to be pregnancy related, 79% of which were preventable. While the report found an increase in deaths between 2018 and 2020 versus 2016 to 2018, the report said the number was statistically insignificant. Roughly two-thirds of the pregnancy-related deaths in Kansas were among women of color, while Black women in Missouri were three times more likely to die within a year of pregnancy than white women. “The progression of medical care has not benefited some populations in the same way it benefited others,” said Sharla Smith, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center and founder of the Kansas Birth Equity Network. She noted that nationwide Black maternal and infant mortality rates are worse now than they were 15 years before the end of slavery.

Congratulations Dr. Sharla Smith

August 18, 2023

The Executive Council of Women in Medicine & Science (WIMS) selected, Sharla Smith, PhD, as the recipient of the 2023 WIMS Soaring Star Award in the basic sciences. The award reflects Dr. Smith’s contributions as a role model and leader, influencing positive change in the careers of women. Dr. Smith was honored at the annual Women in Medicine & Science Ice-cream Social in the Beller Conference Room, August 17th at 4:30.

(S)HE Stories: Meeting Women Where They Are

August 14, 2023

Public health media intern and high school student, Aanya Bansal, wrote and edited this short documentary about the (S)HE Team's approach to working with women leaving incarceration - meeting them where they are, or in public health words, using a harm reduction approach.

JUNTOS Back to School Event

August 7, 2023

Juntos, the University of Kansas Medical Center, Children's Mercy Kansas City, the Wyandotte County Health Department, Vibrant Health Clinic, Heart to Heart International helped kids and families get ready for heading back to school on July 15. Approximately 80 kids, with their families, attended a Back to School event hosted by Juntos to get ready for the upcoming school year.

August is National Breastfeeding Month

August 2, 2023

This week (August 1-7, 2023) is World Breastfeeding Week. The major theme for the week this year is making a difference for working parents while providing their infant with the best nutrition. To find out more on World Breatfeeding Week and resources for families visit World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action here

To find out more information for the State of Breastfeeding in Kansas please see this Resource Guide.

The Magic Pill

July 31, 2023

Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for preventing and surviving cancer, said Christie Befort, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Population Health in KU School of Medicine and associate director for Cancer Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. Befort conducts community-based research in behavioral weight-loss intervention and cancer prevention and survivorship. “Studies are beginning to confirm the benefits of the popular goal of 10,000 steps per day as the optimal number of steps for health and longevity, including for cancer prevention,” she said. “But some is much better than none. There are significant benefits seen with increasing steps at different increments, up to this optimal goal.”

(S)HE Stories: Women's Key Resources After Incarceration

July 25, 2023

Public health media intern and high school student, Kiyah Garlington, wrote and edited this short documentary about three resources women draw on after incarceration: social support, faith, and instrumental support. Kiyah did this work as part of the ACE cancer research education program at the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

All of Us Brings the Future of Health to Kansas City, Kansas

July 20, 2023

JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health at the University of Kansas Medical Center partnered with El Mercado Fresco to host the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Journey, a traveling, hands-on exhibit that raises awareness about the All of Us Research Program on June 20-23, 2023. 

New Study tracks increase in pregnancy deaths for Kansas women of color

July 17, 2023

The rate at which Kansas women of color die from pregnancy increased sharply over 20 years, furthering racial disparities, according to a new national study. Sharla Smith, director and founder of the Kansas Birth Equity Network, said the disparity in these death rates wasn’t a surprise. “When it comes to Indigenous, Hispanic and Black women, what we’ve seen in recent literature and in recent reports is that they are significantly mistreated in our health care systems,” Smith said.The study showed Black mothers in the state had higher death rates than the surrounding states in many of the years studied. In 2019, Black women were more than twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes in Kansas as in Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado.

Changing Tack From Nicotine Patch Fails in Black Smokers

July 14, 2023

In Black adults looking to stop smoking, medication switches early on during a failed quit attempt didn't prove significantly better than sticking with the nicotine patch, an open-label randomized trial showed. The single-center study, which assigned nearly 400 Black smokers to counseling plus either adapted therapy (ADT) or usual care with a nicotine patch alone, showed no significant benefit in quit rates at 12 weeks with the multiple pharmacotherapy approach (OR 1.58, 95% CI 0.89-2.80, P=0.12), reported Nicole Nollen, PhD, of the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, and colleagues in JAMA Network Open.

Black and Indigenous Kansans are more likely to die from pregnancy

July 12, 2023

Black women remain more likely to die from pregnancy than any other group in the U.S., but the problem is even worse in Kansas.The state sees many of the same causes of maternal deaths that are prevalent elsewhere, including severe bleeding after birth, infections, high blood pressure and mental illness. But Dr. Sharla Smith said bigger, structural factors matter.

Adaptation to Pharmacotherapy Does Not Up Smoking Cessation in Black Adults

June 30, 2023

Nicole L. Nollen, Ph.D., from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, and colleagues examined the efficacy of multiple smoking cessation pharmacotherapy adaptations based on treatment response in Black adults who smoke daily in a randomized clinical trial of adapted therapy (ADT) or enhanced usual care (UC). 

Community Practice Survey Provides Window Into Precision Oncology Barriers, Solutions

June 29. 2023

 A survey of community oncology practices identified barriers that are preventing or slowing genomic test ordering and the delivery of targeted therapies, and spurred researchers to explore a pathologist-led genomic testing workflow. The researchers aimed to learn the process cancer centers used to order genomic testing for identifying treatment opportunities for patients and determine common barriers patients faced in accessing tests or follow-on targeted treatments. They hoped to use what they learned through the surveys about access barriers to find potential solutions to overcome them, said Shellie Ellis, lead author of the study and associate professor of population health at University of Kansas Medical Center.

Dr. Michelle Redmond discusses the Center for African American Health

June 26, 2023

The University of Kansas Medical Center is launching a new effort to help improve health outcomes in Black and African American communities. It will have locations in Sedgwick and Wyandotte counties. Dr. Redmond said that this Center will research the structural and environmental barriers to healthcare in black communities and will study racism as a public health issue. 

Rural health initiatives look both internally and externally to find solutions to issues in rural health

June 22,2023

Two groups created by the Kansas Center for Rural Health are tackling the tough issues facing rural health care in Kansas. Bob Moser, M.D., executive director of the Kansas Center for Rural Health, said the two important groups were a part of the center’s plan when it opened in February 2022. Rural Health Council facilitates collaboration and synergy among KU Medical Center researchers and faculty members, while the Rural Health Partners invites health care professionals across Kansas to provide input.

This Mother's Day, Davids Reintroduces Maternal Health Package

May 31, 2023

Today, Representative Sharice Davids recognized Mother's Day by reintroducing legislation to address America's worsening maternal mortality crisis and reaffirming her support for increased research and attention on maternal health care. Davids' Data to Save Moms Act seeks to understand the root causes of this emergency by improving data collection on maternal mortality and morbidity. "While we understand the stark disparities in maternal mortality that highlight Black mothers are dying at 3 to 4 times their white counterparts despite income, education, and early prenatal care, we also understand the data fails to highlight the strengths in Black communities and blames Black women for their poor outcomes," said Sharla Smith, Director of Birth Equity, Kansas Birth Equity Network. "We must shift the Blame for poor health outcomes from Black women to system level accountability and be a part of the solution. KBEN aims to create equity centered approaches to reduce disparities while creating a safe space to have authentic conversations and celebrating Black parents."

Dr. Robert Moser Discusses Rural Healthcare 

May 26, 2023

Dr. Robert Moser discusses rural healthcare on Open Mic with Dr. Stites with his colleagues. Learn how The University of Kansas Health System is improving healthcare for rural Kansans and how overall healthcare needs are changing for rural America. Tune in here to watch.

KU researcher and faculty member is lead author on cancer equity commentary published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

May 24, 2023

Megha Ramaswamy, Ph.D., MPH, associate director for cancer workforce equity at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, and professor of population health at KU School of Medicine, is lead author on a commentary published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) addressing the issue of cancer equity for people who have been impacted by mass incarceration.

Study finds higher rates of liver cancer, low birthweights near toxic site in northeast Wichita

May 11, 2023

Elizabeth Ablah is a professor in the Department of Population Health at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. She noted that social determinants of health – such as economic stability, education and neighborhood – also can play a role in chronic conditions like cancer and birth outcomes. “Regardless of the source, there is a huge disparity,” Ablah said of the study’s results. “And that on its own is an important finding that the community will be interested in and needs to know.”

To complete the study, the state relied on pre-existing data sources: the Kansas Cancer Registry and birth defects reported to the KDHE’s Bureau of Family Health. But the cancer registry only captures data on a person’s address at the time of diagnosis. If a resident moved away from the site and was later diagnosed with cancer, it would not be included in the study.

Congratulations to Alumni Charlie Hunt

May 8, 2023

Charlie Hunt, MPH has started as the new director of Johnson County Department of Health and Environment on April 17. Hunt joined JCDHE as deputy director in 2021 and has served as interim director since November 4, 2022. Hunt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education and a master’s degree in public health, both from the University of Kansas. 

KU Medical Center graduate programs in health care management and public health rank 26th and 50th in new U.S. News rankings

May 4, 2023

The health care management and public health programs at the University of Kansas School of Medicine have both moved up in rankings released today by U.S. News & World Report in its 2024 Best Graduate Schools rankings. The health care management program, known as Health Policy and Management at KU School of Medicine, ranked 26th for public institutions, up from 32nd in the 2019 rankings, the last time it was ranked. Offered through the Department of Population Health as both a master’s degree and a doctorate, this program also inched into the top 50 for all schools, moving from 51st for 2019 to tie for the 47th spot for 2024. The Master of Public Health program, offered through the Department of Population Health in KU School of Medicine, ranked 50th among public institutions for 2024, up from 72nd in the 2023 rankings. It now ranks 76th among all schools in the 2024 rankings, up from 106th for 2023. 

Dr. Robert Moser recognized nationally for lifetime contributions to rural health

May 2, 2023

Robert Moser, M.D., the executive director of the Kansas Center for Rural Health, has devoted his entire professional life to helping rural residents. First, he was serving individual patients as a physician in rural Kansas, then he became an innovator and educator seeking creative solutions to the numerous health issues rural residents face. Next month, Moser will receive a national award that speaks to his accomplishments. The National Rural Health Association has chosen Moser for the Louis Gorin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rural Health Care.

Dr. Befort and Dr. Lee Discuss Cancer Control and Prevention

April 21, 2023

Dr. Christie Befort and Dr. Simon Craddock Lee join their colleagues on the April 21, 2023 University of Kansas Health System's Morning Medical Update to discuss Cancer Control and Prevention. Tune in here to watch.

Dr. Sharla Smith Discusses Infant and Maternal Mortality

April 13, 2023

Dr. Sharla Smith discusses America's problems of maternal and infant mortality on Open Mic with Dr. Stites for Black Maternal Health Week. Tune in here to watch.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly Signs Proclamation Declaring it Black Maternal Health Week in Kansas

April 11, 2023

The University of Kansas Medical Center’s Dr. Sharla Smith has earned media attention nationally, in Kansas and regional outlets, as an authority on the maternal health disparities borne by African Americans. While leading her own funded research, Dr. Smith has also partnered with the KUMC Dept of Obstetrics and Gynecology to create the Birth Equity Clinical Scholar Training for School of Medicine residents. Dr. Smith has brought together a coalition of seven different organizations to generate this Black Maternal Health Week event featuring stakeholders on Saturday, April 16 from 11 am – 1 pm, at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. (more information)

Congratulations to Dr. Erica Cruvinel

April 10, 2023

Congratulations to Erica Cruvinel, Phd, MPH who was selected as a mHealth Scholar for the 2023 mHealth Training Institute. This program is a national connector/incubator/facilitator for advancing mHealth researchers with the transdisciplinary expertise and networks for co-creating practical healthcare solutions with societal impact. Dr. Cruvinel is particularly interested in exploring the potential of mHealth interventions to improve health outcomes for underserved populations in the U.S. and in low-to-middle-income countries.

Congratulations to Dr. Vicki Collie-Akers

April 7, 2023

Congratulations to Vicki Collie-Akers, Ph.D., MPH who was awarded an Exemplar award by Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. Each year for National Public Health week, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department provides exemplar awards to staff who represent each one of the organization's  four core values. Dr. Collie-Akers was honored with the exemplar award for representing Impact. With projects like the Community Health Plan, she is all about determining how best we can impact public health in Douglas County.

National Public Health Week Exhibit 

April 5, 2023

It's National Public Health Week April 3-9! Graduate students in our MPH program are sharing a student-led exhibit, on the HEB Bridge at the KC Campus, exploring major public health accomplishments from the past, present, & goals for the future. Thank you to the students and the Clendening History of Medicine Library for making this wonderful display. 

Dr Nicole Nollen named as New TL1 Co-Lead at Frontiers

March 31, 2023

Nicole Nollen, B.S., M.A., Ph.D. has joined the Frontiers Education and Training Core as the new TL1 co-lead with Jennifer Goldman, M.D. (Children’s Mercy Hospital). Nollen, who has been continuously funded by the National Institute of Health since 2005 for her research on tobacco-related health disparities and has authored or co-authored over 80 manuscripts on the topic, is joining Frontiers having experience as a mentor with Eleanor Leavens, a former TL1 trainee and current Assistant Professor in Population Health.

Celebrate National Public Health Week Starting April 3

March 27, 2023

National Public Health Week is April 3-9, celebrating cultures in health. We learn from the communities we’re born in and that we build together. We celebrate the unique and joyful ways different cultures focus on health, and we look to how we can learn from each other,
with humility and openness.

Go to to see all of the activities planned for this year’s National Public Health Week, including a Twitter chat at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 5. Lisette Jacobson, Ph.D., MPA, M.A., associate professor in Population Health and OB-GYN, will be participating in the chat as others around the country discuss public health, the accomplishments through public health, and how communities work together to build resilience moving forward. Follow NPHW and KU School of Medicine-Wichita on Twitter to join the conversation.

Wichita hands control of Facts Not Fear ICT campaign, $2.4M grant to KU med school

March 22, 2023

The original purpose of the $4 million “Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19” grant — part of President Biden’s national pandemic response — was to encourage COVID-19 vaccination and testing among under-served populations, especially in racial and ethnic minority populations. The program was set to expire June 30, but Martin said the city will likely apply for and receive a 12-month extension. The University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita plans to focus on mental health, partner violence, healthy foods, substance abuse and COVID-19, Dr. Elizabeth Ablah told the council. Its goals are to improve health literacy, community engagement, patient-provider communication and COVID-19 outcomes.

Harvard-Hospital Partnership Tackles Pediatric Emergencies In Lakota Country

March 13, 2023

Jordyn Gunville is a Lakota doctoral student at the University of Kansas School of Medicine specializing in maternal and child health. Born and raised on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation, she has gained first-hand experience of emergency health barriers her people face. “Pediatric emergency medicine is extremely vital for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe because the leading cause of death for American Indian (AI) females age 1-19 is intentional injuries (suicide) followed by the second leading cause of unintentional injuries (motor vehicle accidents),” said Jordyn via email. “For AI men ages 1-19, the leading cause of death is unintentional injuries followed by the second cause of death, suicide,” she added.

Local public health officials fear a Kansas bill would undercut work to contain diseases

March 8, 2023

Some Kansas lawmakers want to take over powers from state and local public health officials to fight the spread of contagious diseases. Now state lawmakers could seize some power from those local public health officials, people they describe as stripping away personal liberties and threatening the economy with restrictions. University of Kansas Medical Centers professor Dr. Vicki Collie-Akers co-authored a study looking at why Kansas state and local public health officials are leaving the profession. Dr. Collie-Akers said the pandemic politicized the profession and put public health officials under fire.“People really struggled with their credibility being impugned throughout the pandemic. Their use of important public health practice tools was up for debate in ways that hadn’t been happening before.”

Text-messaging program provides free support for caregivers of people with dementia

March, 6 2023

Thanks to Dr. Perales-Puchalt and his colleagues at the KU Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and the JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health at KU Medical Center, some caregivers in the Kansas City, Missouri, area now have the opportunity to receive free support via a new text-messaging program known as CareTEXT. In addition to receiving daily automated messages, caregivers also can text a keyword and receive a text message response automatically. (Users receive a booklet about the program that contains a list of these keywords.) If someone texts the word “stress,” for example, she might receive a text message linking to a video about mindful meditation. Users can also text questions to the program’s bilingual coach, research associate Christina Baker, MPH. “And sometimes we get messages not necessarily asking anything, from people just needing some support,” said Baker. “We are able to validate that, to say, ‘we hear you, we're here for you, we are here to support you.’”

“Cuídate, Chécate y Muévete” (Care of yourself, Take the test, Move your body)

March 2, 2023

Frontiers, Clinical and Translational Science Institute highlights the series of workshops JUNTOS team has hosted for the Latino community in January and February of 2023.  In these workshops participants learned about the risk factors for high blood pressure and high glucose.

Healthy, Thriving, Black Families: A Conversation on Black Maternal Health and Birth Equity

February 27, 2023

The Kansas Birth Equity Network is excited to host Healthy, Thriving Black Families: A Conversation on Black Maternal Health and Birth Equity on Saturday, April 15, in recognition of Black Maternal Health Week! Register here to hear from our keynote speaker and panelists about their efforts and successes working towards birth equity. There will be food, swag for attendees, and prizes for parents!

UKanQuit highlighted on University of Kansas Morning Medical Update 

February 24, 2023

For decades now, we've known smoking tobacco can lead to lung cancer, but more than 30 million Americans do it anyway. The February 13, 2023 episode of the University of Kansas morning medical update highlights the UKanQuit team that is driving that number down by engaging people right at the side of their hospital bed. This episode also highlights their expert advice on quitting tobacco and what else can be done to push smoking rates even lower.

The Crisis in Rural Health Care

February 22, 2023

In an effort to address health disparities in rural parts of Kansas, the University of Kansas School of Medicine has formed the Kansas Center for Rural Health. The center is housed on KU Medical Center’s Salina campus, which is shared by the KU School of Medicine and KU School of Nursing. In making the announcement at the center’s launch in February 2022, KU officials said the center will advance the missions of the schools and KU Medical Center by improving lives and communities in Kansas and beyond through innovation in education, research and health care. Part of the center’s mission is to address some of the myths that surround the people who live in rural communities and their health care needs. Simon Craddock Lee, Ph.D., MPH, is the chair of the Department of Population Health in the KU School of Medicine. Lee said many people assume that rural America is one homogeneous monolith — entirely agricultural and uniformly white.

10,000 Steps Might Really Be the 'Magic Pill' Everyone is seeking

February 20, 2023

Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for preventing and surviving cancer, said Christie Befort, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Population Health in KU School of Medicine and associate director for Cancer Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. Befort conducts community-based research in behavioral weight-loss intervention and cancer prevention and survivorship. “Studies are beginning to confirm the benefits of the popular goal of 10,000 steps per day as the optimal number of steps for health and longevity, including for cancer prevention,” she said. “But some is much better than none. There are significant benefits seen with increasing steps at different increments, up to this optimal goal.”

Music Therapy is a Powerful Tool for Stroke Recovery

February 17,2023

A study based out of Florida called Strokestra studied the impact of music therapy on stroke recovery. The researchers measured improvements using the Stroke Impact Scale, which evaluates how stroke affects someone’s health and life from their own point of view.

Missouri is One of the Worst Places to Have a Baby. It Doesn't have to be.

February 16, 2023

Missouri has had one of the highest maternal mortaility rates in the country for years- the 12th worst in the nation. Kansas ranks as the 17th worst. The Kansas Birth Equity Network has launched a two-year fellowship program to train physicians to care for diverse patients. Two family medicine and three OB/GYN residents began participating in March, which includes volunteering with community organizations “to really learn the community they will provide care to, to really get it closer to them because they don’t get that within medical education or oftentimes during their residency,” said Smith.

Lessons Learned From Community Workers Beat the Virus, a Multimedia Campaign Cocreated With Trusted Community Leaders

February 14, 2023

Communicating effectively with racial and ethnic minorities who are disproportionally impacted by COVID-19 continues to challenge health communication professionals. Racism, historical traumas, and systematic discrimination have long deteriorated African Americans’ and Latinos’ trust toward the government and medical community. Despite these obstacles, health communication strategies that are leveraged to better engage with underresourced populations hold promise.

Understanding Barriers to COVID-19 Testing Among Rural and Urban Populations in Kansas

February 10, 2023

Multiple Faculty and Staff  from the Department of Population Health weigh in on barriers to COVID-19 testing in Kansas durring the pandemic. This journal was published in a special issue of the American Public Health Association (AJPH). This issue focuses on the RADx-UP program’s community-engaged responses to reduce health disparities in underserved and COVID-19-vulnerable communities throughout the United States and features strategies and practices implemented to increase testing and vaccination for COVID-19 in Kansas, California, West Virginia, Louisiana, Maryland, and other US states.

Congratulations to Dr. Jess Meyer

February 8, 2023

Congratulations to Jess Meyer, PhD for her acceptance into the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Foundation's  Young Investigators Research Forum. The Young Investigators Research Forum is a research training program designed to aid the career development of promising early career investigators in circadian and sleep research by providing opportunities to network with senior sleep investigators, exposure to federal and foundation funding agencies and sleep funding mechanisms, refine their research ideas, and guidance to thrive in an academic sleep research career.

Q&A with Sharla Smith, Maternal and Fetal Health Reseracher

February 2,2023

Sharla Smith, Ph.D., MPH, answered a few questions about her work and the problem of health disparities for Black infants and mothers. This Q&A done by the Univeristy of Kansas Medical Center highlights Dr. Smith's journey to choose a career in public health disparities.

Congratulations to Dr. Lisa Sanderson Cox

February 1, 2023

Dr. Lisa Sanderson Cox was accepted into the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco class of 2023 Fellows. The status of Fellow is a distinction conferred by the Society on members in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field having to do with the generation of new and useful knowledge. Meritorious accomplishment include contributions to scientific research, clinical practice, public health, public policy, regulation, legislation, or advocacy. Significant accomplishments in dissemination of science, and exemplary service to the Society were also considered. 

Telehealth 'another arrow in the quiver' for Kansas providers, but barriers remain

January 23, 2023

Kansas patients and health care providers value telehealth as a convenient and accessible option, new research shows, but they also recognize its limitations and technological challenges. Dorothy Hughes, an assistant professor of population health and surgery at the University of Kansas School of Medicine’s Salina campus, spent 18 months studying the use of telehealth. She presented findings at a Dec. 12 forum at the Kansas Health Institute.

Congratulations to Dr. Won Choi

January 16, 2023

Congratulations to Dr. Won Choi for his award of Outstanding Lecturer from the Student Voice Awards at A Grand Affair 2023. The class of 2025 designated Dr. Choi as one of the six recipients from the University of Kansas Medical Center. These awards are an important way for students to recognize the hard work, dedication, and mentorship of our Faculty.

Dr. Babalola Faseru appointed Deputy Editor of SAj

January 7, 2023

Congratulations to Dr. Babalola Faseru, who has been appointed Deputy Editor of Substance Abuse Journal (SAj). A Journal of the Association for Multidisciplinary Education and Research in Substance use and Addiction.

KU Tobacco Treatment  Education Program Concludes Fall Cohort Classes

December 8, 2022

KU Tobacco Treatment Education Program directed by Dr. Babalola Faseru concluded training 29 new Tobacco Treatment Specialists for Kansas at the end of November. This brings total number of TTS trained to 258 people over 6 years. A special thanks to Faculty and Staff that have built such a great program for our state. 

JUNTOS featured on Frontiers November Community Spotlight

December 7, 2022

JUNTOS focuses on advancing Latino health in rural and urban areas across the state of Kansas through community-academic partnerships. Mariana Ramirez, director of Juntos, and her bilingual staff manage a wide range of activities to help improve the health of the Latino community. The JUNTOS team works with investigators at early stages of conceptualization to strengthen the cultural and linguistic quality of research studies

Grant Awarded from Novo Nordisk Inc

December 6, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Christie Befort and Kristi Day, who received a grant from Novo Nordsick Inc to support "RETOOL Provider Training - Medical Management of Obesity in Rural Populations".

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Case Study Featured as a Top 10 Case Study at the DeBeaumont Foundation

December 5, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Vicki Collie-Akers and her team whose partnership with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health (LDCPH) was featured as one of 10 case studies from across the United States by the DeBeaumont Foundation. Their case study is featured under "Modernizing the Public Health Workforce". LDCPH formed a partnership with KU and KUMC called the Academic Health Department to support its Public Health 3.0 professional development activities. This academic-practice collaboration pools assets from both institutions to enhance student experiences and public health practices. Through this partnership, LDCPH, KU, and KUMC offer training opportunities to staff. 

Dr. Babalola Faseru Appointed Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of CTTTP

December 2, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Babalola Faseru who has been appointed as the Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the Council for Tobaccoo Treatment Training Programs (CTTTP). CTTTP is the accrediting body of Tobacco Treatent Training Programs.

Spotlight on TL1 Post-Doctoral Trainee Elly Leavens, Ph.D. 

December 1, 2022

Dr. Elly Leavens, Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health was featured in Frontiers Clinical and Translational Science Institue for November. When most people outside of the medical field think research, they think about medicine-based research to help with a specific disease, but for Elly Leavens, who is as a clinical psychologist, she’s more interested in how policy changes can impact health outcomes. Her current works have focused on the impact of e-cigarette nicotine concentration on compensation, cigarette use, and biomarkers of exposure and harm in African American and White smokers and, the impact of e-cigarette training on puff patterns, cigarette smoking and health outcomes among smokers with COPD.  

Area Residents Offer Ideas on Health Care

November 30, 2022

Community residents offered input Monday evening on the state of health care in the area, both the good and the bad, and how to improve it during a town hall meeting sponsored by the University of Kansas Health System Great Bend Campus. “We’re trying to kind of break down silos and bring lots of different people together and hopefully come up with, ultimately, some kind of an action plan that everybody can feel really invested in,” said  Dr. Dorothy Hughes, Salina-based assistant professor of population health for the University of Kansas School of Medicine. “We hope it will help move the community forward in the ways that you think are important.”

'We Deserve Better' Premiered at the  APHA Film Festival in November

November 29, 2022

Student filmmaker, Andrea McMillian, screened her short film, 'We Deserve Better' at the Public Health Association 150th Annual Conference, in November 2022. In 2021, the (S)HE Team engaged in documentary filmmaking to showcase women’s stories of strategizing, succeeding and navigating health and social life after jail. The films were directed by Matty Arnold, cinematography by Diego Torroija, produced by Megha Ramaswamy, the University of Kansas Sexual Health Empowerment (S)HE Team, with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Films were written and edited by students in the KU Master of Public Health Program.

Dr. Kimber Richter Awarded AMERSA's Best Research Abstract Award

November 28,2022

Congratulations to Dr. Kimber Richter who was awarded this year's Best Research Abstract Award from AMERSA. This was given for Dr. Richter's abstract titled: "Changing the Default for Tobacco: using Delayed Consent and Adaptive Trial Design to Test a Radically New Approach to Treatment".

Lawrence City Commission Approves Raising Age of Tobacco, Vaping Products to 21

November 22, 2022

The Lawrence City Commision approved raising the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21 in late October. Dr. Vicki Collie-Akers was involved in helping to move this ordinance along through several roles . In addition, Laura McCulloch of UKanQuit also was involved as the Community Health Equity Specialist at the Lawrence/Douglas County Health Department. They were two key people of many to help support and get this ordiance through.

Telehealth in Kansas: Provider and Patient Experience During COVID-19 Cross-Study Report

November 22, 2022

Dr. Dorothy Hughes participated  in the Provider and Patient Experience During COVID-19 Cross Study Report Webinar in early October. This webinar discussed the results of four phases of telehealth research during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Showing patients, providers, and administrators expressed that telehealth increased access to care and saw benefits beyond expanding access during the pandemic. The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund and REACH Healthcare Foundation commissioned research on telehealth in Kansas to understand its use by consumers and providers, and to gain their perspectives on areas for improvement. The research included a statewide survey of providers, a statewide voter pollhealth provider interviews and consumer focus groups.

Welcome to Dr. Jess M. Meyer

November 21, 2022

Dr. Jess Meyer began as an assistant professor in the Department of Population Health at the begining of October. Her research investigates social determinants of health over the life course, with a particular emphasis on sleep and health disparities. Dr. Meyer’s work has examined sleep at the intersection of work and family, investigating how work-family schedules or policy affect sleep timing, sleep duration, or sleep interruption to care for young children at night.

Birth Workers in Kansas are Addressing the State's High Rate of Infant Mortaility

November 18, 2022

Dr. Sharla Smith and other birth advocates spoke with National Public Radio about how they are addressing the state's high rate of infant mortality. Birth experts say reducing Black infant mortality means taking a wide look at all of the social, environmental and economic factors that contribute to it. 

Congratulations to Directors Award and Pivot Speaker Recipients 

Novmeber 17, 2022

The University of Kansas Cancer Center announced its 2022 recipients of the Director’s Awards, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the cancer center’s mission, and Pilot Awards, which funds promising novel research being conducted by cancer center members.  The Department of Population Health had a number of faculty, staff, and students named as recipients this year. Congratulations to the Kick it at Swope Team for the Director's award for William Jewell Team Science category, Dr. Lisa Sanderson Cox for the Director's award for closing disparities, and Dr. Megha Ramaswamy for the Director's award for mentoring.  In addition, congratulations to Dinesh Pal Mudaranthakam, current PhD Student who was named PIVOT Speaker Recipient for the cancer prevention and control category for his "Barriers to Clinical Trial Participation: Comparative Study Between Rural and Urban Participants." 

Researchers Receive R01 Grant from National Cancer Institute to Increase Targeted Cancer Treatments to Rural Cancer Patients

November 16, 2022

Targeted cancer treatments, also known as precision medicine, are tailored to each person’s individual cancer and can offer patients the most effective treatment with the fewest side effects. Rural patients have less access to these revolutionary treatments. Shellie Ellis, associate professor of population health, has designed an intervention to increase the use of targeted cancer treatments for these patients.

Dr. Megha Ramaswamy Named Associate Director for Cancer Workforce Equity

October 25, 2022

The University of Kansas Cancer Center has named Megha Ramaswamy, PhD, MPH, its inaugural associate director for Cancer Workforce Equity.

Dr. Ramaswamy is a nationally recognized researcher, educator, and advocate for the health of incarcerated women. She is the principal investigator for the Sexual Health Empowerment Project, the only longitudinal grant-funded intervention in the country that addresses cancer risk for people involved in the criminal legal system. Her work has been continuously funded by the National Cancer Institute. She is also principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health-funded Science Education Partnership Award to build a health sciences workforce starting in high school, and Dr. Ramaswamy co-directs an early investigator training program for the Frontiers Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Dr. Ramaswamy’s new leadership role reflects The University of Kansas Cancer Center's commitment to foster a diverse and equitable environment. 

High School Students Discover Career Possibilities at Health Care Event

October 24, 2022

Dr. Ashley Counts was one of the faculty that participated in ‘Discover KU’s Health Programs’  which invited students from Kansas City, Kansas, who would be the first generation in their families to go to college.  Dr. Counts used a disaster preparedness case study to demonstrate how MHSA & MPH professionals adapt to shifts in their work setting and populations of interest.

Welcome to Dr. Ashley Counts

October 21, 2022

Dr. Ashley Counts became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health and the Assistant Director of the Master of Health Services Administration program at the begining of September. With experience in public, academic and private health systems, Dr. Counts serves as the primary progression-to-degree and fellowship & career advisor for the MHSA program. She enjoys mentoring students and supporting their lifelong learning.

After Black infant mortality surged in Kansas, birth workers jumped into action

October 20, 2022

Public health experts are still trying to understand why Kansas saw so many babies die during the first year of the pandemic when infant mortality dropped slightly in the U.S. overall. Most suspect the virus has something to do with it — whether from direct impacts to fetal development or stress from job loss and isolation. Dr. Michelle Redmond, Dr. Sharla Smith, and Dr. Lisette Jacobson helped weigh in on disaparities affecting this statistic along with other experts in their field.

Caregiving: Trends Burdens and Breakthroughs

October 18, 2022

Join this session of Kansas City Quality & Value Innovation Consortium event on October 20, 2022 from 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM CST about Caretaking: Trends Burdens and Breakthroughs. This session will include presentations by Mariana Ramírez, director, JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health, and Jaime Perales Puchalt, assistant professor of neurology, KU Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Dr. Lisette Jacobson selected as a Fellow in the 2023 Leadership Institute for the Society of Behavioral Medicine

October 13, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Lisette Jacobson who has been selected as a Fellow in the 2023 Leadership Institute for the Society of Behavioral Medicine.  Dr. Jacobson was one of the 36 individuals who were selected to join this program. After completing the year long program she will present her leadership project at the Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting in 2024. 

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 Birth 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