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The Institute's History

The Institute of Health Research and Policy is an outgrowth of the Prevention Research Center (PRC) founded in 1987 by Brian D. Flay, DPhil, at the UIC School of Public Health. Under his direction, the center grew quickly, developing a research portfolio that within three years included designation as one of seven centers nationwide funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct community-based research in the prevention and control of chronic disease.

During the 1990s, agencies such as the CDC continuously renewed their funding to the center, and the center’s research aims and success grew. The center became known for its scientific achievements and national leadership in health promotion. To not only continue this tradition but also expand the PRC mission, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees established the Health Research and Policy Centers in 1997 and approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to enact a mission to stimulate and support high-quality campus research with aims of improving health practices and policies through a multidisciplinary perspective.

After directing the PRC and overseeing its development into the new centers, Dr. Flay stepped down in 2000 to return to full-time research in youth development. Robin Mermelstein, PhD, served as interim director until Susan Curry, PhD, became director in June 2001. In July 2004, the Health Research and Policy Centers were renamed as the Institute for Health Research and Policy.

In August 2008, Dr. Curry left UIC to become dean of the University's of Iowa's College of Public Health, and Dr. Mermelstein succeeded her as IHRP director. Marian Fitzgibbon, PhD, became IHRP's deputy director.

Today more than 60 research studies are conducted annually at the institute, involving more than 100 UIC faculty investigators who partner with hundreds of community organizations and health agencies.

IHRP's Evolution

1987:


School of Public Health (SPH) Dean Jacob Brody, MD, recruits Brian Flay, DPhil, from University of Southern California to establish a Prevention Research Center that will draw federal funding for health promotion research.

By fall, four projects, funded by the National Cancer Institute for $200,000, are underway at the center. Leading these projects is a multidisciplinary group, including Dr. Flay, Dr. Mermelstein, Susan Levy, PhD, Richard Warnecke, PhD, and Clara Manfredi, PhD. They work in 700 square feet of office space.

The first large-scale center project is “Community Cancer Prevention: A Televised Self-Help Program for Smoking Cessation.”

1990

The Centers for Disease Control designates the PRC at UIC as one of seven centers nationwide to conduct community-based research on the prevention and control of chronic disease. The PRC moves into three quarters of one floor of 850 W. Jackson, Chicago.

1992

More than 50 people conduct 17 projects worth more than $2.1 million in the center, which occupies 11,300 square feet of office space in the Jackson building.

1994

Thirty-six faculty members from 12 departments in seven colleges participate in the center. Agencies such as the CDC and NIH continuously renew their funding to the center, and the center’s studies, staff, and budget increase further through the 1990s. The center becomes known for its scientific achievements and national leadership in health promotion and disease prevention research.

1997

Based on a plan developed by Dr. Flay and UIC School of Public Health Dean Susan Scrimshaw, PhD, the University of Illinois establishes a campus-wide unit called the Health Research and Policy Centers (HRPCs) to continue this tradition and expand the PRC mission.

2000

HRPCs reach $9.9 million in annual funding. Dr. Flay steps down as director to return to full-time research in youth development. Dr. Mermelstein serves as interim director.

2001

Susan J. Curry, PhD, is recruited from the University of Washington and Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, to become director.

2004

The HRPCs move from Jackson to a new research office building on Roosevelt Road, where more than 190 people work on about 90 research projects, totaling $12.6 million.
  The Illinois Board of Higher Education designates the centers as the Institute for Health Research and Policy (IHRP).
  The Section of Health Promotion Research of the UIC Department of Medicine is established with Marian Fitzgibbon, PhD, as director. The section affiliates with the IHRP as the Health Promotion Research Program.

2006

The Center for Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomic Research, under the direction of Glen Schumock, PharmD, MBA, PhD affiliates with IHRP.

2008

More than 220 part-time and full-time research staff work on 65 studies, totalling more than $16 million. Dr. Robin Mermelstein becomes IHRP director, and Dr. Marian Fitzgibbon becomes deputy director.