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Innovative Faculty-Student Model Gets a New Start

NWCPHP joins a new venture to provide student training and rapid consultation to domestic public health organizations.

NWCPHP joins a new venture to provide student training and rapid consultation to domestic public health organizations.

October 23, 2014

Public health agencies around the world have expressed the need for affordable, rapid consultation in areas like epidemiology, environmental health, and public health law. Since 2011, the University of Washington Department of Global Health’s Strategic Analysis, Research and Training Program (START) has addressed this demand with faculty-student teams providing global health consultation services.

This fall, the Department of Global Health launched the START Center, which includes a strengthened global program and a new domestic program housed at NWCPHP. The START domestic program will use the same successful model of faculty-student teams to provide consultation services to domestic public health agencies and organizations.

NWCPHP Director Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, will direct the new START domestic program team, which includes faculty members Jennifer Otten, PhD, RD, and Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, MD, MPH, PhD, and research assistants Phillip Hwang and Anne Althauser. The START Center and global program are co-directed by Judd Walson MD, MPH, and Lisa Manhart, PhD.

“The START model is an innovative answer to public health workforce training,” said Kwan-Gett. “It gives students the opportunity to work in collaborative, multidisciplinary teams to address urgent public health challenges.” START research assistants include graduate students from a variety of public health disciplines. They also partner with business students in the Foster Global Innovation Fellows Program at the Arthur W. Burke Center for Entrepreneurship in the Foster School of Business.

With close faculty mentorship, students will analyze data, develop strategies, and evaluate policies within short time frames—all critical skills for future public health leaders. “It’s really a win-win,” Kwan-Gett said. “Public health organizations get high-quality research and analysis, and students receive hands-on experience and training around real-world public health issues.”

The original START program worked on projects related to infectious diseases and vaccine delivery in the global health arena. The new domestic team will tackle issues that are particularly relevant to domestic public health agencies like health care reform, food policy, and health disparities.

Looking ahead, Kwan-Gett said the hope of the Center is that domestic and global public health workers will “cross-pollinate,” sharing expertise and strengthening each other’s work.

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