First CLIC-funded Synergy Paper team to focus on solutions for bridging the gap between research, policy and practice

Laura Meyer, CTSA CLIC
Post date: 
December 19, 2018


One of the major barriers limiting widespread adoption of evidence-based practices is the cultural discrepancy between academic research and large public health systems. While academic institutions traditionally focus on new discoveries, often in controlled settings, governmental agencies implement policies and services in real-world settings, causing a natural divide. To help tackle this discrepancy, a multidisciplinary team of CTSA Program hubs and city and county health organizations are collaborating to produce a paper that will help drive innovations in clinical care and population health in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Earlier this year, CLIC announced a call for applications, inviting CTSA Program hubs to form teams and apply for CLIC assistance to write a paper that focuses on either a significant translational science process roadblock and how to address that challenge, or a review of a translational science topic across several stages of the continuum, identifying gaps and approaches to move the field forward.

The goal of these ‘Synergy Papers’ is to advance the field of translational science and build collaborations within and external to the Program, while also meeting the academic needs of co-authors to produce high-quality, joint scientific publications. CLIC received applications from teams across the country and ultimately selected, ‘Bridging research, policy and practice through partnerships with local health departments’ as the awarded team, which is comprised of authors from five CTSA Program institutions and two public health organizations. The complete writing team is listed below.

Amytis Towfighi, M.D., director of Implementation Science at the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute and lead author for the paper, says that this team is distinctively able to tackle this barrier.

“CTSA hubs are uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between research, policy and practice and contribute to improvements in care delivery and public health,” said Towfighi. “We have the presence and influence to identify local health priorities, as well as the resources and expertise to catalyze research in those areas.”

The writing team aims to develop a proposed solution that builds on two existing partnerships in LA and Chicago – the Los Angeles DHS-UCLA-USC Implementation Science Program and the Chicago Consortium for Community Engagement (C3- a network of academic research institutions and community stakeholders including Chicago’s CTSA hubs at Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and University of Chicago) – and describe an academic-public partnership model as an innovative solution that, if adopted by other hubs in throughout the consortium, can benefit population health and care delivery on a national scale.

The paper will ideally be published sometime in 2019. For more information about this paper or upcoming Synergy Paper RFAs, please visit our webpage or email

‘Bridging research, policy and practice through partnerships with local health departments’ – Synergy Paper writing team:

  • Amytis Towfighi, M.D., Associate professor of Neurology at USC and director of Implementation Science at the SC CTSI
  • Allison Orechwa, Ph.D., Director of Programmatic Development at the SC CTSI
  • Marc Atkins, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Director of the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Erika Gustafson, M.A., Graduate student in clinical psychology at UIC, and the program coordinator of the UIC CB-DIS program
  • Tara Mehta, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and a core member of the UIC CB-DIS program
  • Dana Rusch, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, a core member of the UIC CB-DIS program a member the C3 executive committee
  • Arleen F. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., General internist and health services researcher with expertise in quality of care for older adults and minorities
  • Moira Inkelas, Ph.D., M.P.H., Co-leads the UCLA CTSI Population Health program along with the previous Chief Science Officer of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the current director of chronic disease and injury prevention for DPH
  • Deborah K. Herman, Project Manager at the UCLA CTSI
  • Jen Brown, MPH, Director, Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities, Northwestern University Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute and co-chair of the C3 executive committee
  • Hal Yee, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
  • Rachelle Paul-Brutus, MPH, Coordinator of Research and Evaluation at the Chicago Department of Public Health and co-chair of the C3 executive comm