$1.1 Million HRSA grant to create interprofessional health care learning lab in the College of Public Health


Professor of Nursing Rebecca Sutter, along with faculty and students across colleges, will lead the creation of an interprofessional Learning Laboratory for Community Health.   

Nothing has exposed the unmet health and social needs of communities more clearly than the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for the people and communities that historically have been marginalized. The pandemic impacts have elevated the need to improve how we train our future health care workforce, and the multidisciplinary teams in which they function. Faculty in Mason’s College of Public Health know that new, alternative approaches to delivering and accessing health care to individuals, families, and communities is essential, and they are playing a leading role in training the next generation.  

The Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) awarded Professor of Nursing Rebecca Sutter with a $1,150,000 grant to create an interprofessional Learning Laboratory for Community Health that trains students to serve and improve health care for underserved communities. The award was made possible by the efforts Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia's 11th District, who shepherded the proposal through Congress.  

The Learning Laboratory will focus on building students' capacity to consider health care in the community in a broader context and will allow students to design and implement evidence-based solutions, while fueling their understanding of population health improvement for communities.  

“We must train the next generation of health and social service students to better understand the role of community partnering, the use of data, and the deployment of novel technologies and approaches across the health and social care continuum,” said Sutter, director of the Mason and Partner Clinics  

In partnership with community stakeholders, participants in the Lab will identify, design, and disseminate data-driven and evidence-based models of social health care improvement, and offer recommendations to community partners on opportunities to improve social health and community impact.  

Students participating in the Lab will help faculty develop a list of priority health and health care topics for Northern Virginia and develop case studies around these topics. Case studies will explore interventions and approaches with broad impact and potential to reduce disparities, with an emphasis on community-based health promotion, health care access, and disease prevention programs, services, and policies. 

“By creating evidence-based projects with an interprofessional team, students will build their capacity to consider health care from many angles, which will fuel their understanding of population health improvements and help them become public health leaders who ensure access to care for marginalized communities in Northern Virginia,” said Sutter.  

The interprofessional team includes faculty lead Alison Cuellar and Mario Uriyo from the Department of Health Administration and Policy; Kenneth Griffin, Michelle Williams, and Patrice Winter from the Department of Global and Community Health; and Lisa Gring-Pemble and Anne Magro from Mason Business for a Better World). Ashley Wiest is serving as the Program Coordinator. Megan Harvey is serving as the Partner Liaison. They are accompanied by a team of graduate-level research assistants: Lameck Chiwaka, Naga Tejaswi Veluri, Judy Gutierrez, Patricia Tran, Marissa Bolouri-rad, Jordan Turner, William McKinley, Ruhma Hand, Sarah Moore, Jaya Yannam, and Tumen Sosorburam.