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

Our team

Allison Cole, MD, MPH, Co-Director

Dr. Cole is an Assistant Professor in Family Medicine in the Research Section and a practicing family physician. 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

Linda Ko, PhD, is the director of the Health Communication Research Center (HCRC). She is a behavioral scientist with expertise in the development, testing, and evaluation 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.

Key support personnel

Laura-Mae Baldwin, MD, MPH

Dr. Baldwin is Co-Director of the ITHS Regional Collaborations Program, is a Professor in the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine, and is a Senior Investigator in the University of Washington’s Rural Health Research Center. She has developed and is the Director of the WWAMI-region Practice and Research Network (WPRN). This practice-based research network has more than 35 primary care clinics in the five-state WWAMI region. A subset of 17 of these clinics participate in a data-sharing infrastructure (Data QUEST) that leverages their electronic health record data. Dr. Baldwin is also a practicing family physician with strong ties to teaching programs in the WWAMI states. Dr. Baldwin’s research focuses on access to and quality of health care in diverse underserved and rural areas.

Gina Keppel, MPH

Ms. Keppel is a Research Scientist in the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine. She possesses more than 10 years of experience as a study coordinator and data analyst. She is the primary contact for the WWAMI region Practice and Research Network (WPRN) Coordinating Center. For the last five years, she has supported the development of the WPRN and its research infrastructure, and continues to work closely with the WPRN and regional partners to engage clinical practices in research. Ms. Keppel is also part of the Data QUEST team and facilitates Data QUEST projects with WPRN member sites.

Eric Larson, MD, MPH

Dr. Larson is the Executive Director of the Group Health Research Institute and was formerly the Medical Director of the University of Washington Hospital. Dr. Larson understands the challenges of conducting research from both the UW and community perspectives. He has led the Society of General Internal Medicine, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and the American College of Physicians Board of Regents. His research interests range from Alzheimer’s disease to technology assessment and quality improvement.

Jessica Ridpath, BA

Ms. Ridpath has more than seven years of experience helping health researchers and other health care professional improve the readability and format of print and web-based materials. She is the lead writer, editor, and trainer for the Program for Readability In Science & Medicine (PRISM), a plain language initiative founded at Group Health Research Institute in 2005. With support from ITHS, Ms. Ridpath developed PRISM Online Training, a free, Web-based plain language tutorial for researchers that launched in October 2010.

Lisa Temposky, BA

Ms. Temposky is a Research Project Manager at the Group Health Research Institute with extensive experience in managing complex, transdisciplinary research projects. She currently works closely with the Hispanic Community Liaison to connect the Hispanic community with researchers. Her experience includes projects in women’s health, energetics, and cancer research. Ms. Temposky’s interests lie in public administration, health policy, and their relevance in addressing health disparities in minority communities.

Ron Whitener, JD

Squaxin Island Tribe Professor Whitener is Assistant Director of the UW Native American Law Center (NALC), and consults with communities and researchers on data dissemination and publication issues, research regulation, and tribal sovereignty. He teaches the UW’s Tribal Public Defense Clinic, a clinical course representing low-income Natives in criminal cases and teaches various courses in the field of Indian and health law. He provides research regulation expertise to ITHS community outreach core’s Locally Controlled Data QUEST pilot project.



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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Cite ITHSThe Institute is supported by grants UL1 TR002319, KL2 TR002317, and TL1 TR002318 from the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program (CTSA).

Please help us continue to support your research by citing our grant number(s) in publications we supported.