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Applied Health Policy Institute


The Applied Health Policy Institute is a training ground for the next generation of health policy leaders and a catalyst for policies that improve public health.

Experts, such as professors, epidemiologists, and healthcare providers, are often the people most qualified to contribute to effective policy formation. However, academic work is typically segregated from on-the-ground policy and politics. Decisions are instead driven by people and organizations who may not always have the content expertise or perspective to drive efficacious policies that serve the community as a whole. Therefore, we aim to connect public health experts with the tools they need to translate their work into policy and train public health students with skills they can use to engage in policy activities both during school and when they become professionals.

What We Do

Educate future health policymakers: Through internships, classes, and continuing education opportunities, we provide hands-on experience with many components of policy, such as policy analysis and formation, the legislative process, advocacy, social media campaigns, and rulemaking. Course offerings:

  • PHP 495/595: Case Studies in State Health Policy:
    Offered during the spring, this course provides students from colleges across the university the opportunity to participate in the public policy process. Each student is partnered with an external stakeholder of their choice and supports/follows that organization’s efforts through a legislative session. In addition to work for their community partners, students learn about key aspects of policymaking and complete assignments examining various aspects of their chosen bill.

  • Introduction to Medicaid & Healthcare Payment Systems (in development):
    This new course will provide a basic overview of how American healthcare payment systems work, with a particular focus on Medicaid. It covers associated laws, policy considerations, examples of state Medicaid program innovation, and real-world beneficiary experiences. This course also includes several expert guest speakers, addresses how course subjects relate to the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes discussion about the future of healthcare in the United States.

Generate research, publications, and resources: We are working on academic and practical projects examining public health policy issues, with a particular focus on Arizona.

Bring together people who care about specific public health topics: We connect students, experts, community members, and organizations.

Provide technical assistance: Need help transforming your public health work or research findings into real change in the community? We can provide technical assistance to help experts transform their research into policy change. This includes for example assistance identifying realistic policy priorities, examining what other states have done, conducting policy analysis and legal research, connecting with stakeholders, and understanding how to navigate governing bodies. The Applied Health Policy Institute may help connect people with community organizations interested advocating for a policy, but we will not engage in lobbying ourselves.

Interested in working together? Click here to contact us.

Our Team

Heather Carter, Ed.D.

Heather Carter is an Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and an Associate Director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health. She is also a state Senator for Legislative District 15. She is currently the Chairperson for the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee and Vice Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.

Before being elected to the Senate, she served in the Arizona House of Representatives for eight years and was the Chair of the Health Committee from 2013 to 2018. She also spent several years as an Associate Clinical Professor at Arizona State University teaching classes in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and was Assistant Dean in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, where she created executive education courses for health professionals on topics related to health policy. She has a Doctorate in Education from Northern Arizona University and a Master’s in Education from Arizona State University.

Kirin Goff, JD, MA

Kirin Goff is a Project Coordinator at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and Professor of Practice in Law at the James E. Rogers College of Law.

She is a lawyer and earned her JD from the University of Arizona. She also has two Anthropology degrees, including a Bachelor’s in cultural Anthropology from Willamette University and a Master’s in Global Health from Arizona State University, where her studies focused on applied social science in public health.

Kirin has done a variety of policy-related work, including among other things policy and legal research and analysis, drafting bills and regulations, community-based participatory research, and helping candidates form their policy platform. Kirin was a Senior Rules Analyst at the Arizona Department of Health Services, where she wrote regulations, including regulations adopted in response to the opioid epidemic. Most recently, she worked as a litigator practicing political and constitutional law at the Torres Law Group before joining the University of Arizona.

She has taught courses in anthropology, global health, and health policy and regulation. Her work includes varied public health topics, such as health impact assessment, drug policy, reproductive health, and tobacco.

Kirin is an Arizona native passionate about creating healthy communities in her home state and beyond.

The University of Arizona