Research News

UW-Madison’s Fuller selected for new national leadership program

September 15, 2016

How do we create better, more equitable health for all?

That’s the question that 40 doctoral students from across the country will explore as part of the new Health Policy Research Scholars program being led by Johns Hopkins University, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

And one of those being selected to join the highly selective program is UW-Madison’s Regina Y. Fuller, a doctoral student with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. Fuller works with Lesley Bartlett, a professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies.

Regina Fuller
As part of the inaugural cohort of scholars with the program, Fuller plans to build research on how African-born adolescents, in the United States and West Africa, interact with community-based spaces around issues of reproductive health and pregnancy prevention.

“Too often high rates of teenage pregnancy persist in underserved communities, and teen mothers are unable to continue secondary or collegiate education,” says Fuller. “In my research, I will examine how community based programs provide sexual education to African-born youth and support to young mothers using culturally responsive, asset-based models. This comparative study aims to build evidence and contribute to better policies on sexual education programs for African youth both here in Madison and abroad.”

As part of the Health Policy Research Scholars program, Fuller also will be developing high-level leadership skills through professional coaching, mentoring, networking and an advanced health policy curriculum. While participating in the program, she will continue studying full-time and applying new health policy knowledge and leadership in the community and field.

Fuller says she will spend the first two years of the fellowship completing her doctoral coursework at UW-Madison while taking an online course in health policy at John Hopkins and participating in summer health policy institutes in Washington, D.C. Fuller will also conduct her comparative study and write her dissertation during the last two years of the fellowship.

Fuller will also join scholars from across the country to collaborate and innovate to solve persistent challenges and advance a culture of health — one that places well-being at the center of every aspect of life. Participating scholars are from communities that — by race, ethnicity, socio-economic status and other factors — are traditionally underrepresented in doctoral programs and policy development, with an intention to diversify the next generations of leaders and ensure equity in policies.

“These scholars are dedicated to advancing their field in a way that makes a positive and significant impact on their communities,” Harolyn M.E. Belcher, program director, Health Policy Research Scholars Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training and Professor of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University, said in a statement. “In order to do so, they’re willing to forge a new path, learn how to do things differently and work collaboratively to achieve a healthier, more equitable society.”

Additional partners providing training and coaching to scholars include: AcademyHealth, George Washington University, Mayo Clinic, University of California-Los Angeles, and University of Michigan.

Health Policy Research Scholars is one of four new leadership development programs launched this year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and represents a four-year, multi-million dollar investment. The programs join five existing leadership programs in advancing RWJF’s legacy of supporting the development and diversity of leaders impacting health.

The 2017 application period for the newer programs will open in January. Additional information is available at