Innovation & improvement in public health via community engagement & research. Population Health Research Program

Program Services

  • Research and Evaluation Consulting

    • Through its consulting service, the Population Health Research Program offers training and consultation on mixed methods, implementation and dissemination science, policy, and community-based participatory research to Harvard researchers and community partners.
  • Connecting Students with Policy and Community-Based Practice Projects

    • Matching faculty and students with opportunities to gain critical policy and community-based research experience while contributing to the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based policies and practices. Stipends and structured support are provided.

Program Informational Resources

The Population Health Research Program (PHRP), formerly the Community Health Innovation and Research Program, applies Harvard's strong measurement and research translation infrastructure and expertise to the improvement of population health and the reduction of health disparities in Massachusetts. Through the Department of Public Health and other state agencies, the Commonwealth commits many millions of its own dollars and millions of federal dollars – to policies and programs it funds, monitors, and regulates that have enormous impact on population health and health disparities. However, the state lacks the resources and capacity for evaluating these programs. By assisting state agencies in developing coordinated, systemic, and evidence-based policies and programs, applying science to their implementation, evaluating them, and adding to research and evaluation capacity in state government, PHRP in partnership with Harvard Catalyst's other programs add significant and sustainable value to the community's principal health improvement effort.

The strong institutional partnership between the Commonwealth, arguably the nation's foremost innovator in health and payment reform, and Harvard Catalyst as a leader in health research application and translation, enables both to integrate clinical and public health strategies and measure their effects on health outcomes and costs. This partnership also optimizes the interface between state government, operating at scale, and community-based institutions and organizations whose engagement in health improvement is critical.

The Population Health Research Program integrates three overlapping areas of focus:

  • Public Policy Partnerships: Works with state and city public health departments to identify opportunities for translation of research and practice into policy, and provides critical research support of Harvard faculty and students to ensure that the best available scientific evidence is considered in policy development and implementation;
  • Primary Care/Safety Net Research Infrastructure Initiative: Builds infrastructure and capacity for quality improvement, translational research, and application of evidence to practice within community health centers that provide safety net primary care, with the goal of increasing health centers' capacity for engaging in translational research;
  • Training, technical assistance, and capacity building in translational research: Utilizes the provision of substantive and methodological support to help connect Harvard investigators with diverse community partners to work together on coordinated projects of mutual interest.

Activities in all three areas, utilizing sound principles and best practices for community engagement, aim to increase community participation in public health planning, research, and evaluation. These activities also assist partners in developing collaborations to adapt and apply evidence-based strategies and enhance students' skills. The Population Health Research Program's Community Advisory Board plays a critical role in this process by representing community perspectives to guide program activity.