Since January 2021, we have hosted a Health Policy Living Room Series with Ellen Cohen, Executive Director of the Center for Health and Social Sciences. Read summaries and watch recordings of the sessions below. 

Sandeep Ahuja, MPP '06, CEO and co-founder of Operation ASHA

May 5, 2021 

Watch the Webinar: Health Policy Living Room Series with Sandeep Ahuja, MPP’06 (1 hr., 1 min.)

Sandeep Ahuja, MPP ‘06, co-founded and has led Operation ASHA since 2006. Operation ASHA is a community-based model aiming to improve delivery of healthcare services for low-income tuberculosis (TB) patients in India and Cambodia. 

“Taking those courses on statistics—the Core courses—I couldn’t believe I was getting the skills to churn out numbers by the millions…. Millions of pieces of information at the click of a button—that's what you need as a policymaker in India, working with 1.4 billion people.”

— Sandeep Ahuja

Monica Peek, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, Associate Director of The Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research

April 12, 2021

Watch the webinar: Health Policy Living Room Series with Monica Peek on Racial Health Disparities (57 min.)

Monica Peek, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Associate Director of the Chicago Center for Diabetes Translational Care. Her research focuses on reducing disparities in diabetes and breast cancer care, and she concentrates her efforts on the South Side of Chicago. Dr. Peek shared about her career-long journey to integrate racial justice and medicine, from research to policy advocacy. She shared about how her personal story has driven her work, as well as the importance of understanding how institutions maintain systemic inequities.

“Because our systems and structures are built for the status quo and because the status quo is built for inequity means that unless we build equity into the machinery, right now… what we're going to get is inequities in vaccine implementation.”

— Dr. Monica Peek

David Meltzer, MD Fanny L. Pritzker Professor of Medicine; Chief of the Section of Hospital Medicine; Director of the Center for Health and the Social Sciences

April 6, 2021 

Watch the webinar: Health Policy Living Room Series with Dr. David Meltzer, Professor in the Department of Medicine (57 min.)

David Meltzer, MD, PhD, wears many hats at the University of Chicago: Chief of the Section of Hospital Medicine, Director of the Center for Health and the Social Sciences, Chair of the Committee on Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Chicago, and a Professor in the Department of Medicine. His research focuses on health economics, which has most recently been applied to the impact of vitamin D deficiency on vulnerability to COVID-19.

“The way in which data is used can be diverse—it can be quantitative research and econometrics; it can be qualitative analysis. There are different ways of knowing for different sorts of problems … but that combination of theory and data and applications seems to me like that's really the core of [public policy training].”

— Dr. David Meltzer

Robert Gibbons, Blum-Riese Professor and a Pritzker Scholar at the University of Chicago; Director of the Center for Health Statistics

March 15, 2021

Watch the webinar: Health Policy Living Room Series with Robert Gibbons (53 min.)

Robert Gibbons, PhD, is a biostatistician and professor with broad interests that span medicine, quantitative methods, item response theory, and more. He shared about his past experiences with policy advocacy and innovation, from organ transplants to mental and behavioral health screening tools. A common thread through the discussion was the value of statistics in not only understanding the state of the world, but also developing tools for improving it.

“The collision between statistics, data science, quantitative thinking and public policy is so very important… you have to understand the math if you're going to do a good job with the application.”

— Dr. Robert Gibbons

Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration; Affiliate Professor in the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division and the Department of Public Health Sciences, Co-founder of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, Co-Director of the University of Chicago Health Lab

February 16, 2021

Watch the webinar: Health Policy Living Room Series with Harold Pollack (53 min.)

Harold Pollack is the co-founder of the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the co-director of the University of Chicago Health Lab. He is leading two major efforts to address the opioid epidemic in Illinois and studies service improvement for individuals and the boundaries of the behavioral health and criminal justice systems. At the center of his work is an emphasis on self-awareness and cultural competency, so that he can better understand and serve communities in an authentic way.

“I must say that, of course, we have all the tensions of [being] an elite University in the middle of the South Side, so we have to navigate the realities of that. And I think that it is the combination of the very rigorous training, very focused on empirical methods, and coming out with some excellent quantitative skills with being right in the middle of it that makes it a special experience for my students.”

— Harold Pollack

Matt Greenwald, Assistant Vice President, University of Chicago's Federal Relations Office

January 21, 2021

Watch the webinar: Health Policy Living Room Series with Matt Greenwald (55 minutes)

Matt Greenwald, MPP, is the University of Chicago Deputy Director of Federal Relations. He served in a wide variety of political roles, including as an appointee under President Clinton. He shared his experiences in learning how to adapt to shifting administration priorities and advocate for evidence-based policies at the federal level.

“Why I chose public policy for a graduate degree over something more narrow is partly the quantitative nature. The need to synthesize a lot of different data and information and do it quickly and effectively. And then be able to articulate it… I think having that basis of being a good synthesizer of policy issues that don't always neatly fall into one place and putting some sense to that is a big part of what makes me effective.”

— Matt Greenwald