Tricia Johnson, PhD, Rush University Medical Center, C3EN Administrative Core Co-Director, Investigator Development Core Reviewer

How did your interest in health equity begin?

I became interested in health equity in Chicago when Rush developed a proposal to BMO Harris Bank in 2013 that focused on strengthening the healthcare workforce in the West and South Sides of Chicago. With a $5 million gift from BMO Harris Bank, Rush, Malcolm X City College, and Medical Home Network partnered on a number of initiatives focused on workforce development, including bolstering the Community Health Worker Program at Malcolm X College and launching a Health Equity Research Fellowship program. My research has predominantly focused on understanding and addressing health equity in different populations since then.

What are your current research projects?

My research interests lie at the intersection of health economics, social determinants of health and new models of care, particularly for disadvantaged populations. One area of research is the economics and cost-effectiveness of nutrition in preterm infants. Aloka Patel, neonatologist and section director of neonatology at RUSH, and I have an NIH-funded randomized trial (ReDiMOM) underway to test the effectiveness of an economic intervention designed to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in maternal breastmilk provision in preterm infants. Additionally, we have an observational study of infants and mothers enrolled in ReDiMOM that evaluates duration of maternal breast milk, adiposity, and healthcare utilization for infants through to 2 years of age. A second area of research is the cost and cost-effectiveness of interventions to improve health and reduce health disparities more broadly. Some examples of this research include evaluating the cost and cost-effectiveness of a home versus clinic-based intervention to reduce obesity for low-income children, cost-effectiveness of adaptive interventions to increase physical activity on cardiovascular health, and the cost-effectiveness of a social problem solving intervention for adults with intellectual disabilities living in group homes.

What are you most proud of in your career? 

I love my job, and I have loved it ever since joining Rush in 2002 [Johnson is Professor in the Department of Health Systems Management in the College of Health Sciences at Rush University]. I have been and am fortunate to work with really outstanding, smart people with strong values that guide their work. I am proud of the fact that I can say that I love what I do and with whom I work.

Do you have any fun facts?

I had at least 11 different jobs in high school and college, all of which I left in good standing:

Johnson Farms, farm laborer

John’s I-35 Restaurant, waitress (directly off Exit 124 on Interstate 35 in Iowa)

Nameless Story City tanning salon, receptionist & tanning bed cleaner

Dairy Queen, ice cream server

Forgotten Name Greek restaurant, waitress & bartender

Maggie’s Gift Shop in North Grand Mall, clerk

Temp worker

Sole proprieter insurance agency, receptionist & typist

Hach Chemicals, laborer (I cut out chemical labels written in French and glued them on English language chemical bottles)

DeSodas Non-Stop Bop 50’s themed bar, waitress

The Sandtrap Golf Club, waitress

Coe College Writing Center, writing consultant