Academic Health Department

Our Center and Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health began partnering in 2011. In 2013, we formally established the Academic Health Department; the first in Kansas and one of only a few in the country.

KU Provost Neeli Bendapudi signs MOU to extend the Academic Health Department with Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department to 2020.
Pictured: KU Provost Neeli Bendapudi signs Academic Health Department MOU.


The Academic Health Department is an academic-practice collaboration, which effectively pools assets of both institutions. The health department benefits from the knowledge and expertise that KU research provides; meanwhile, KU faculty and students are able to put their research into practice at the health department. The goal is to address the basic conditions that affect the health of the community:

  • Access to health services
  • Mental health
  • Nutrition
  • Physical activity
  • Poverty


The Academic Health Department’s work includes:

  • Establishing a shared research agenda
  • Increasing support for participatory research on health issues in Douglas County
  • Connecting staff and students to meaningful learning and professional development opportunities
  • Supporting the implementation and evaluation of Douglas County’s 1st community health plan, Roadmap to a Healthier Douglas County (PDF)
Christina Holt and Ruaa Hassaballa, facilitating community planning as part of the community health improvement plan.
Christina Holt (left) and Ruaa Hassaballa (right), facilitating community planning as part of the community health improvement plan.

Illustrative Accomplishments

  • Completed an assessment of barriers to active transport for older adults
  • Supported the successful application to CDC resulting in a funded Partnerships in Community Health grant
  • Completed a year-long project to better understand branding of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department with the KU School of Journalism
  • Conducted a performance management project to improve accessibility of clinic services with the Applied Behavior Science Department at KU
  • Conducted a comprehensive community health assessment, which was featured by the Institute of Medicine in its “Evaluating Obesity Prevention Efforts: A plan for measuring progress”

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