Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Philadelphia, Nov. 24, 2010 –Thirteen new research projects on the public health impacts of laws and regulations on issues such as lead exposure, vaccinations, emergency preparedness, and the structure of state health agencies were funded today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Public Health Law Research (PHLR) program.

PHLR’s aim is to promote effective regulatory, legal and policy solutions to improve public health. Since its inception, the program has funded fourteen studies and several reviews of existing scientific evidence on several major public health challenges.

“We now have a significant number of studies that will help policy-makers make informed decisions in dealing with major public health challenges, such as HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity, immunization, drug overdoses and flu epidemics, “ said PHLR Director Scott Burris, JD. “At the same time, we are also providing researchers with tools to improve research methods, such as data collection and analysis.” Burris is professor of law at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he directs the Center for Health Policy, Law and Practice.

The grants announced today total $3,409,985. They include short-term studies of specific laws or regulations and long-term evaluations (see attached summaries of the latest round of research projects funded by PHLR). The program is currently inviting additional proposals for rapid response studies that are likely to have an immediate impact.

PHLR is funded by RWJF as a part of its public health strategy aimed at ensuring that all Americans have quality public health services and policies that protect, promote and preserve their health, regardless of who they are or where they live. “The results of these studies are helping us build the evidence that policy-makers can use to understand how laws and regulations affect public health—not just laws aimed at specific public health issues. Zoning laws, for example, affect opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy foods through farmers’ markets and grocery stores, which ultimately affect obesity rates,” said Michelle Larkin, J.D., M.S., R.N., director of the public health team at RWJF. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country.

As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

The Temple University Center for Health Policy, Law and Practice examines critical legal issues in public health and healthcare through interdisciplinary research projects, courses and problem-solving partnerships with academics and community leaders both locally and internationally.


Evaluation of a Public Health Law to Support Intervening in Drug Overdoses, Caleb Banta-Green, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S.W. and Patricia Kuszler, M.D., J.D., University of Washington;

Local Legal Infrastructure and Its Association with Population Health, Julia Costich, M.P.A., J.D., Ph.D., University of Kentucky;

Drug Patent Challenges and Public Health, C. Scott Hemphill, J.D., and Bhaven Sampat, Ph.D. Columbia University;

The Impact of State Law and Institutional Policy Upon Heath Care Worker Influenza Immunization Rates, Patricia M. Sweeney, J.D., M.P.H., R.N. and Richard Zimmerman, M.D., M.P.H., University of Pittsburgh;

The Impact of Local Health Department Structure and Policy on Health Outcomes, Scott P. Hays, Ph.D., University of Illinois;

Do IRS Form 990 Regulations Help or Hinder Public Health Infrastructure?, Jason Turner, Ph.D., M.A., and Jesse Goldner, J.D., M.A., St. Louis University; 

Are Local Lead Laws the Key to Reaching the Children Who Remain at Risk?, Katrina Korfmacher, M.S., Ph.D., and Michael Hanley, J.D., University of Rochester;

The Beat on Sodium and Public Health Law, Amy Winterfeld, J.D., and Janelle Peralez Gunn, M.P.H., B.S.,  National Conference of State Legislatures; 

Improving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Ability to Protect U.S. Workers from Workplace Risks, Cary Coglianese, J.D., Ph.D. and Adam Finkel, M.P.P., Sc.D., University of Pennsylvania ;

Statutory Rape Laws and the Incidence of Teenage Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases,Matthew Harding, Ph.D. and Michael Frakes, J.D., Ph.D., Stanford University;  

Addressing Consumption and Purchase Patterns of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Citric Acid Drinks and Identifying Legal Impacts to Improve Health,  Priscilla Harris, J.D., Appalachia School of Law; 

Legal Authority for Infectious Disease Surveillance and States’ Ability to Promptly Respond to Emerging Threats Using 2009-2010 Novel H1N1 Influenza, Anne Barry, J.D., M.P.H. and Richard Danila, Ph.D., M.P.H., Minnesota Department of Health;

Empirical and Legal Evaluation of Public Health Protection Under the Federal Lead and Copper Rule, Marc Edward, Ph.D. and Stephanie Pollack, J.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute.