PAM Faculty to Head New Institute on Health Policy

Article excerpt

Two Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) professors are working to build a "community of scholars" from campus and visiting institutions focused on risky health behaviors and their implications for health care policy and public health.

The Institute on Health Economics, Health Behaviors, and Disparities, co-directed by professors John Cawley and Donald Kenkel and set to launch July 1 with funding by the College of Human Ecology, is intended to attract scholars from a wide range of fields related to health policy, including economics, government, nutrition, communications, sociology, psychology, and medicine.

Cawley and Kenkel envision the new institute as a home for research and evaluation that informs public debate, serves as a structure to mentor and support graduate students, and coordinates Cornell's expertise in these areas.

"Health economics, health behaviors, and disparities are inherently multidisciplinary issues," said Cawley, noted for his research on the economics of obesity. "If you want to understand the factors that lead to risky health behaviors, as well as possible policy solutions, you need to get economists, sociologists, public policy experts, nutritionists, and communications researchers all talking to each other. This institute is very much in the spirit of Human Ecology, where we take insights from various disciplines to work on common goals"

The collaborative approach is necessary, Kenkel said, because public health concerns pervade many areas of society and public policy. In coming years, for instance, various health care reforms will start to reshape medical benefits programs offered by the state and federal government, employers, and private insurers. …