Introducing the Population Health Center: The Intersection of Academics and Practice

A Bold New Model in Clinical Care, Research, and Professional Development to Improve the Public’s Health

Leadership of Population Health Center outside building

Dean Germaine Louis and Co-Directors of the Population Health Center from left to right: Caroline Sutter, Rebecca Sutter, Germaine Louis, and Alison Cuellar.

The health of Northern Virginia is at a crossroads. Changes in the profile of residents’ health and demographics reveal populations at risk. More than 16% of residents live in “islands of disadvantage,” and nearly 8% are uninsured. Demographic shifts coupled with changes in Medicare and the mandate to reduce hospital readmission rates are transitioning the point of care delivery from hospitals and emergency departments to community providers.

To address these critical public health needs in Northern Virginia and beyond, the George Mason College of Health and Human Services has launched the Population Health Center, an essential and bold intersection of academics and practice.

The Population Health Center, located on Mason’s Fairfax campus, addresses this transformation in how we access and deliver care, particularly for underrepresented and uninsured populations. The Center will help: practitioners attain new skills and credentials; employers meet evolving needs; and communities connect with innovative, solution-oriented partners.

“The Population Health Center is a hub where researchers, faculty, students, care providers, and community partners come together to develop innovative approaches to research, interprofessional care, and professional development to improve public health. Experiential learning opportunities are available for all involved, with the goal of moving the needle on the health of the populations we serve,” says Dean of the College of Health and Human Services Dr. Germaine Louis.

The Population Health Center facilitates partnerships between academia and community and houses state-of-the art facilities for telehealth, research, and clinical care. The 10th Mason and Partners (MAP) Clinic, a no-barrier free clinic, will be located at the Center as will the Kaiser Permanente Community Wellness Hub, where co-located community partners will provide resources to address determinants of health such as access to housing, food, and prescriptions. The Kaiser Permanente Community Wellness Hub was funded by a grant from Kaiser Permanente. The Claude Moore Scholars program, an initiative to build a career-ready workforce of students who are pursuing higher education health career pathways, is also located in the Center.

Examples of inaugural initiatives taking place at the Population Health Center include: 

  • Providing integrated primary care responsive to the social determinants of health;
  • Using electronic health data along with telehealth and mHealth technologies in delivering care;
  • Understanding and promoting the health of young adults beginning with Mason students; and
  • Reimagining the model for developing competencies and skills for professionals and the health workforce.

Drs. Alison Cuellar, Caroline Sutter, and Rebecca Sutter have been appointed as co-directors of the Population Health Center to oversee the tri-part mission of the Center, and serve as advisors to Dean Louis. Alison Cuellar will oversee faculty-led research initiatives, Rebecca Sutter will oversee interprofessional care delivery, and Caroline Sutter will oversee workforce development efforts. Together, and with the College faculty, these leaders will bring their respective expertise to build a groundbreaking model for interprofessional collaboration among public health researchers, practitioners, community partners, and students.