The Center for Urban Population Health was officially established in April 2001 as a partnership of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH), Aurora Health Care (AHC), and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee's College of Health Sciences (UWM CHS). Our mission is to conduct and facilitate original population health research and educational initiatives that improve the health of urban communities through collaboration with academic and community organizations. The research program of the Center for Urban Population Health is population-focused and community-based, with a health and wellness perspective and a strong commitment to cultural diversity. The Center's research programs focus on projects that address the health needs of women and children, the aging population, minority groups, and the economically disadvantaged. As a destination for interdisciplinary population health research, the Center has identified three special initiatives that it will focus resources on in 2008. These include but are not limited to:
- Maternal and Infant Health,
- High Risk Youth Behaviors/Public Safety, and
- Healthy Aging.
The Center embraces principles and values that support its mission and vision:
- Promoting a population health framework as a unifying approach for addressing health determinants, interventions and health outcomes;
- Forging partnerships with community and academic experts from diverse organizations, backgrounds, perspectives and disciplines;
- Creating an environment of innovation;
- Translating research into effective policies, programs and practices; and
- Working to reduce health disparities.
The Center for Urban Population Health has an Executive Committee that provides oversight and guidance on the Center's mission and goals. The Center is led by its Director, the Associate Director for Health Services Research, and the Associate Director for Community Partnerships. This leadership team sets research priorities and guides decisions regarding project resources and management.
The Center focuses on conducting translational research across a continuum:
To accomplish this focus, the Center pursues two program areas to conduct translational research:
- Health Services Research, which conducts research and research training and development of faculty, residents, fellows and students in population and health research; and
- Community Partnerships, which strengthens and expands community partnerships and leads the conduct of community-based research including community-based participatory research.
To support these program areas, the Center has built a strong infrastructure in several areas of expertise:
- Design and Analysis: facilitating and supporting quantitative and qualitative research with expertise in epidemiology, biostatistics, methodology, community-based participatory research, and program evaluation;
- Information Technology: developing and supporting database and information systems of research projects including developing new technologies;
- Communication and Dissemination: disseminating research results in materials such as the website, annual reports, presentations, and brochures, and communicating and facilitating quality public relations; and
- Business Services and Operations: supporting external contract and grant business services and providing administrative and operational support to the Center.
At its heart, the Center is committed to population health and connections to communities in Wisconsin's urban areas. To make a difference in people's lives, scientific knowledge about population health must be interwoven with community partnerships. Therefore, the Center has chartered a course to engage in meaningful partnerships with multiple stakeholders in order to advance research and evaluation aimed at improving the public's health
One key to the Center for Urban Population Health's success is its reliance on what is known about the mechanisms for effective community-academic partnerships (Adams, Miller-Korth & Brown, 2004; Wolff & Maurana, 2001). Although these perspectives vary slightly, they have the following principles in common:
- Agreed upon mission, values, goals and measurable outcomes;
- Mutual trust, respect, genuineness and commitment;
- Identified strengths and assets as well as areas for improvement;
- Balance of power and sharing of resources;
- Clear, open and accessible communication;
- Established roles, norms and processes;
- Feedback and continuous improvement;
- Shared credit for accomplishments; and
- Development and evolution over time.
The Center recognizes the importance of contributing to the realization of the priorities outlined in the State Health Plan – Healthiest Wisconsin 2010. The Center specifically aims to advance the Plan's overarching goal of "Eliminating Health Disparities" through the planned inclusion of the community most affected by health disparities in Wisconsin in the prioritization, planning, implementation and dissemination of population health research.
- Adams, A., Miller-Korth,, N. & Brown, D. (2004). Learning to Work Together: Developing Academic and Community Research Partnerships. Wisconsin Medical Journal, 103(2), 15-19.
- Wolff, M., & Maurana, C. (2001). Building Effective Community-Academic Partnerships to Improve Health: A Qualitative Study of Perspectives from Communities. Academic Medicine, 76(2), 166-172.