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ITHS Community Engagement Program

ITHS Community Engagement

The ITHS Community Engagement program is committed to facilitating community-academic research partnerships in eastern Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI) that are true collaborations. We aim to increase community involvement in every stage of research. We promote research that will address priorities and health outcomes in the communities and practices we work with, and support these communities in becoming more engaged and savvy about research.

We work to understand the translational research interests, strengths and needs in the WWAMI region so that we can effectively facilitate multi-directional collaboration and exchange between academic, clinical, community-based organizations, and patients, and help support the development of a vibrant translational research community.

Program focus

All ITHS programs interact with regional constituents in significant ways, but the Community Engagement Program focuses on:

  • Creating high-functioning, multidisciplinary academic, clinical, community, and patient research teams
  • Providing tools, knowledge, skills, and institutional support to advance discovery into practice

Program goals

The ITHS and the Community Engagement Program meet its goals through:

  • Bringing community health concerns to the forefront of research
  • Enabling academic investigators to conduct research in real-world settings
  • Addressing critical gaps in dissemination and implementation science



ITHS administers networks.
  • We maintain clinical research networks within primary care clinical practices, clinical research centers in hospitals, health systems, and universities in the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) states.
ITHS makes collaborations happen.
  • We create research partnerships with investigators, clinicians, communities and patients
ITHS searches out priorities.
  • We ask communities, patients, clinicians and clinical organizations what health and research priorities are of the most interest and importance to them.
ITHS builds tools.
  • We collaborate locally, regionally, and nationally with our partners to (1) identify gaps in the science of community engagement and dissemination and implementation, and (2) to build innovative tools, develop new methodologies, and create strategies to improve health.
ITHS mentors and trains.
  • We integrate coaching and mentoring into our matching processes and develop training aligned with the needs of investigators and communities.
ITHS spreads the word.
  • We leverage our expertise in dissemination and implementation sciences to enable investigators to scale up and spread their health innovations into practice
  • We help clinics develop and implement strategies to ensure their patients receive the evidence-based care they need
Our Team


Katherine Tuttle, MD, FASN, FACP, FNKF

Katherine R. Tuttle, MD, FASN, FACP, FNKF, is the Executive Director for Research at Providence Health Care and the regional Co-Principal Investigator for the Institute of Translational Health Sciences, Investigator at the Kidney Research Institute, and Professor of Medicine in the Nephrology Division at the University of Washington. Dr. Tuttle oversees the interests of the five-state WWAMI region to ITHS and is Director of the Northwest Participant and Clinical Interactions Network, a collaboration of 12 clinical research centers across the region. Her major research interests are in the areas of clinical and translational science and precision medicine strategies to tackle diabetic kidney disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

Allison Cole, MD, MPH, Co-Director

Dr. Cole is an Associate Professor in Family Medicine in the Research Section and a practicing family physician. She is the Director of the WWAMI region Practice and Research Network (WPRN) and an expert in dissemination and implementation of evidence-based care in primary practice. WPRN has approximately 60 primary care clinics in the five-state WWAMI region, 20 of which participate in a data-sharing infrastructure (Data QUEST) that leverages their electronic health record data. Dr. Cole’s research focuses on primary care practice-based research and systematic approaches to reducing cancer screening disparities. Prior to joining the department, she practiced at a Community Health Center in the Seattle area for almost five years and then completed a two-year NRSA Primary Care Research Fellowship.

Linda Ko, PhD, Co-Director

Dr. Ko is the director of the Health Communication Research Center (HCRC). She is a behavioral scientist with expertise in the development, testing, evaluation and dissemination of health communication strategies. Her work draws from the discipline of communication, marketing, social epidemiology, and social and behavioral sciences. Her research aims to understand community’s behavior within the socio-cultural context, develop interventions that will address those behaviors and translate knowledge through community-based participatory research. Dr. Ko received a PhD degree from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and is currently an Associate Member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an Associate Professor at the University of Washington Department of Health Services.

Laura-Mae Baldwin, MD, MPH, Senior Advisor

Dr. Baldwin is a Professor in the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine and a practicing family physician. She established ITHS’ two regional clinical research networks – the WWAMI region Practice and Research Network and the Northwest PCI Network. Dr. Baldwin co-leads the national Dissemination and Implementation Workgroup across the Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) program and the national Practice Based Research Network (PBRN) Special Interest Group within the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network. Dr. Baldwin’s practice-based research aims to increase access to and quality of health care in diverse underserved and rural areas, and currently focuses on management of long-term opioid therapy for individuals with chronic pain.

Danielle Lavallee, PharmD, PhD, Faculty

Dr. Lavallee is a Research Associate Professor in the University of Washington Department of Surgery. She leads the Comparative Effectiveness Research Translation Network (CERTAIN) Patient Voices Initiative and the CERTAIN Patient Advisory Network (PAN). CERTAIN Patient Voices incorporates the patient perspective into both quality improvement and research activities through the capture of patient-reported outcomes and active patient engagement. Dr. Lavallee is formally trained in Health Services Research with a specific focus in qualitative methods and patient-centered outcomes research. She holds a PharmD from the University of Kansas and a PhD in pharmaceutical health research services from the University of Maryland. In addition to her appointment in the Department of Surgery, Dr. Lavallee is the UW Medicine Medical Director for Patient Generated Health Data working on care transformation initiatives across UW Medicine.

Michael Parchman, MD, MPH, Faculty

Michael Parchman, MD, MPH, is a primary care physician and Senior Investigator at the MacColl Center for Healthcare Innovation within the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. For over 20 years his work has focused on dissemination and implementation of evidenced-based chronic illness care in primary care settings. He currently leads an ARHQ-funded cluster-randomized pragmatic trial of implementation strategies to build quality improvement capacity and improve cardiovascular risk factors in over 200 smaller primary care practices across the Pacific Northwest. He has also led implementation studies to address opioid over-prescribing in rural health clinics and trials of practice facilitation to improve outcomes for patients with type 2 diabetes. Within the field of implementation science, he directs a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded effort to develop innovative approaches to de-implementing low-value care services. He has over thirty years of primary care practice experience and work a medical educator.

Key support personnel

Laurie Hassell, Director

Ms. Hassell is the Director of the ITHS Community Engagement program and Coordinator of the Northwest Participant and Clinical Interactions (NW PCI) Network. Ms. Hassell collaborates with community engagement faculty co-leaders to operationalize Community Engagement priorities and provide general oversight of activities of Community Engagement programs, including the NW PCI Network, WPRN, Dissemination and Implementation Program and Community-based Organization and Patient Engagement.  Promotion and support of translational research collaborations between investigators and clinicians throughout the WWAMI region is a major component of Ms. Hassell’s work, resulting in numerous successfully funded research studies, led by diverse research teams and conducted in community health care settings across the region. Before joining the ITHS in 2010, Ms. Hassell served as the Regional Manager for the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research, and co‐founded a biotechnology training company.

Sonia Bishop, Project Manager

Ms. Bishop received her Bachelors of Science in Community Health Education from Central Washington University and has over 20 years of experience in cancer prevention research, coordinating research projects in Seattle, Lower Yakima Valley of Washington and the Navajo Nation.  Ms. Bishop has experience working with over 40 different worksites in the Seattle area, leading Employee Advisory Boards (EABs) and Community Advisory Boards (CABs) for community-based participatory research projects. Currently, she is the Project Manager for the Health Communications Research Center in the Division of Public Health Sciences in the Cancer Prevention Program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Erika Holden, Project Manager

Erika has a BA in Anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder campus and enjoys working in public health as an opportunity to better the lives of all people with health issues. She has worked on over 30 research studies in her 14-year career at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (formerly Group Health) ranging in topics that include acupuncture, yoga and physical therapy for low back pain, relaxation techniques for depression/anxiety, substance use disorders, breast cancer risk reduction, and health coaching for sitting reduction in older adults. Most recently, Erika has worked on a quality improvement initiative, Healthy Hearts NW, to improve cardiovascular outcomes in small primary care clinics in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. She enjoys travel, working in her yard and playing in the outdoors in every season with her 2 kids.

Gina Keppel, MPH, Research Scientist

Gina Keppel, MPH, is a Research Scientist with the ITHS Community Engagement Program and UW Department of Family Medicine. Ms. Keppel works with the WWAMI region Practice and Research Network (WPRN) facilitating relationships between primary care clinical practices and academic research partners to enable the conduct of research in primary care community practice settings. She also works with the ITHS Dissemination and Implementation program. Ms. Keppel has over 15 years of research experience including both qualitative and quantitative research methods, project management, and grant development.

Sarah Lawrence, MS, Senior Project Manager

Sarah Lawrence is a Senior Project Manager at the University of Washington Surgical Outcomes Research Center, where she leads stakeholder engagement, communications, and dissemination activities across a number of research projects and engagement initiatives. Sarah is Associate Director of the CERTAIN Patient Advisory Network, which supports patient-researcher partnerships in patient-centered outcomes research. Sarah received a master’s degree in social sciences from The University of Chicago.



The first two hours of consultation are free with an additional 10 hours if Community Engagement personnel will be included in grant applications. Consultation costs and effort percentages are negotiable and are subject to the availability of personnel and resources.

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