A Week in the Life of Ron Cisler, Director of the CUPH

Ron Cisler, Ph.D.
Ron Cisler, Ph.D.

Ron Cisler, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Urban Population Health (CUPH) and Associate Professor of Health Sciences at the College of Health Sciences (CHS). But that is just where it begins. A glance at his calendar provides great insight into the many hats he wears to advance and support the goals of the university and community as they relate to health. It also clearly shows how he effectively balances his time and efforts toward education, research and service.

Ron’s success lies in a personal philosophy about equitable and sustainable individual relationships, as well as organizational partnerships, all of which he brings to his professional work. His confirmation of these beliefs creates and supports an environment ripe for discussion, discovery and innovation.

Partnerships and Mentoring

Monday begins with a final review of the budget for the submission of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention application for a National Academic Center of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention. He is working with Dr. Mallory O’Brien and the City of Milwaukee Health Department to pilot a multi-year, multi-level prevention effort consolidating the best interventions aimed at all stages in one geographic area in Milwaukee. A number of prominent community-based organizations are interested in joining the project. Such a program can have a tremendous impact on the community and provide a model for the nation in developing a safer community and more resilient youth.

Cisler then listens to a pre-defense of the dissertation of a Ph.D. candidate in the UWM College of Nursing. Ron has mentored over 30 faculty and graduate students during his academic career (including currently one master’s and two doctoral students) and provided the support and feedback that has laid a strong foundation for the start of their careers.

From this session, Ron makes his way to a lunch meeting with the steering committee of the Wisconsin Network for Health Research (WiNHR), a collaborative effort involving the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Aurora Health Care, and Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation.

WiNHR was established to promote greater inter-institutional cooperation in research and to move research results to the bedside and community more efficiently and effectively. Ron has served on the steering committee since WiNHR was established five years ago and, as director of the Center for Urban Population Health (see right column), has led and supported a number of research initiatives with this collaborative in Milwaukee.

After lunch Ron meets with an Aurora UW Medical Group junior investigator to review and provide support for her application for an Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her work in geriatrics is just one of many programs with a focus on healthy aging among the Center’s partners.

Community Health Equity

A new day begins and Ron has an internal planning meeting with Dr. Loren Galvão, MD, MPH, the Center’s Associate Director for Community Partnerships Initiatives and Senior Scientist at the UWM College of Nursing. Dr. Galvão is a Co-Investigator with him on a Comprehensive Center of Excellence (P60) Award from the NIH’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

This highly competitive award, with a budget of $7.5 million, supports community engagement activities, two health equity research projects and education/training programming designed to address disparities in health and health equity across diverse communities in Wisconsin. The Co-Principal Investigators for the grant are Alexandra Adams, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Director of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH) Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), and Christine Sorkness, Pharm.D., Senior Associate Director of ICTR.

In the afternoon, Ron attends a steering committee meeting for the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) collaborative. The LIHF collaborative is a community-wide effort dedicated to closing the black-white gap in birth outcomes in Milwaukee. From April 2010 through June 2011, the steering committee will build a collaboration to include representatives from multiple sectors of the Milwaukee community.

The Milwaukee LIHF collaborative already has participants from 60 local organizations, but hopes that many more community members and organizations will join in the planning process. Funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program’s Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families, the Milwaukee LIHF planning process will create an action plan specific to Milwaukee that will be supported in part by the Wisconsin Partnership Program, with a goal of obtaining additional support from other funding partners both locally and nationally.

Supporting Environments for Innovation

Thursday morning begins with the Center’s quarterly Executive Committee meeting. The Center is governed by an Executive Committee, which provides oversight and guidance on the Center's mission and goals. The Committee is made up of representatives from each of the Center's collaborating institutions, Aurora Health Care, Inc., UWSMPH and UWM, as well as representatives from key community organizations, including the Commissioner of Health for the City of Milwaukee, the CEO of the Social Development Commission and the President/CEO of the Council for the Spanish Speaking. The task at hand this quarter is to both balance the almost $3 million Center operating budget and explore new opportunities among partners to advance the mutual goals of the partner institutions and not duplicate what is already on the ground.

Later that day, Ron takes off his director hat and puts on his president hat. Ron has recently been elected president of the board of the Institute for Wisconsin’s Health, Inc. The Institute is an independent public health enterprise that seeks to bring together the forces of Wisconsin’s public health, health care and business communities with the goal of leading Wisconsin toward becoming the healthiest state in the nation. Ron, as board president, and the Institute seek to connect key leaders interested in making Wisconsin healthier and catalyze action in an independent and highly focused way. Their first endeavor is the creation of the Wisconsin Public Health Practice Based Research Network (WPHPBRN). Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the WPHPBRN will encourage and support high quality public health systems and services research that is driven by the needs and interests of Wisconsin’s local health departments.

Ron finishes out his week on campus again with a College of Health Science’s faculty meeting and college-wide research symposium and he then participates in a series of faculty and executive committee meetings for the new UWM School of Public Health, where he is an Associate Professor.

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