Trainees Participate in RWJF Health Policy Research Scholars Program

January 14, 2020

Two PSTC predoctoral trainees, ​Adedotun Ogunbajo (Public Health) and Chinyere Agbai (Sociology), are Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars (HPRS). This prestigious leadership program supports students from populations that are underrepresented in doctoral programs, as they conduct policy research to advance health and equity.

As part of the HPRS program, Agbai participated in a case competition that involved developing a policy to reduce gun violence in a particular community. She explained, “My team and I proposed lethal means safety counseling to reduce suicide by firearm among Native American youth in New Mexico, a group that experiences a disproportionately high rate of suicide. Lethal means safety counseling is one evidence-based solution that helps families and community members learn how to temporarily remove firearms, the most lethal method of suicide, from the hands of young people experiencing temporary suicidal thoughts. Our policy intervention won the award for Strongest Multidisciplinary Approach.”

Although her dissertation does not address the same issues, the skills that Agbai developed through the case competition are valuable for her own research. Of the case competition, she remarked, “It was helpful for thinking about how to translate research for nonacademics in general, and for policymakers in particular.”

Ogunbajo’s research explores the intersections of mental health, substance use, and sexual risk among racial and sexual minority communities. He found the HPRS program instrumental as he embarked on doctoral research. Ogunbajo noted, “My involvement in the HPRS program has provided me with the tools to incorporate health policy into my doctoral research and has laid the groundwork for my research pursuits upon graduation in Spring 2020. The program has also provided me with a supportive network of doctoral students of color from across the country who are also engaged in health equity research across various disciplines.”

Applications for the next cohort of Scholars are open now. The full funding opportunity and instructions are available here. The deadline to apply is March 11.