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Gómez and Gomez-Vidal Join Health Equity Leadership Programs

Assistant Professor Anu Manchikanti Gómez and doctoral student Cristina Gomez-Vidal have been selected to participate in Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leadership development programs for health equity. These programs equip and connect leaders across the country—in every sector, profession, and field, and from all backgrounds and perspectives—to collaborate in addressing systemic inequities and finding new solutions to the nation’s most entrenched health challenges. RWJF’s vision is to build a Culture of Health in every community across America so that every person has the opportunity to reach their best possible health and well-being. Dr. Gómez and Ms. Gomez-Vidal will benefit from high-caliber curricula and coaching from national leaders, collaborate with other cutting-edge thinkers to create greater impact, and accelerate their ability to build healthy communities, inform public opinion and policy, and contribute to building a Culture of Health—one that places well-being at the center of every aspect of life.

Cristina Gomez-Vidal has been selected as one of 40 scholars from across the country for the Health Policy Research Scholars Program. Health Policy Research Scholars supports researchers from all fields of study—from economics to epidemiology—apply their work to policies that advance equity and health while building a diverse field of leaders who reflect our changing national demographics. The four- to five-year program provides participants from underrepresented populations and disadvantaged backgrounds, with an annual stipend of up to $30,000. As a member of the newest cohort, Ms. Gomez-Vidal  joins a diverse network of leaders including an ecology scholar elevating the voices of indigenous communities in California, and a political science scholar bridging the gap between academia and policy to deliver more equitable health care and minimize fiscal waste. Gomez-Vidal will investigate how county government structures and governance operate as social determinants of health in unincorporated communities. Ms. Gomez-Vidal believes that an inclusive political system is essential to building cohesive and healthy communities.


Dr. Anu Manchikanti Gómez has been selected for the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program. Designed for teams of two researchers and one community leader, Interdisciplinary Research Leaders supports engaged and innovative research, crafted and conducted to explore a problem and apply a solution in real time, making an immediate positive impact in the leaders’ home communities. The three-year program provides participants with annual support of up to $25,000 and a one-time research grant of up to $125,000 per team. As a member of the newest cohort, Dr. Gómez joins a diverse network of leaders including a team addressing the impacts of pollution on rural communities in Ohio, and a team merging modern technology with traditional Hawaiian food systems. Dr. Gómez will collaborate with Dr. Sally Rafie, a pharmacist at the University of California, San Diego, and Ms. Erin Garner-Ford, Executive Director of ACT for Women & Girls in Visalia, CA, to investigate the implementation of pharmacist-prescribed contraception in rural California. Their project will include collaboration with a team of community researchers to understand pharmacists’ and women’s perspectives on implementing this policy, using the data to identify actionable strategies to increase access to contraception in the rural California.


The Health Policy Research Scholars and Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Programs are two of several leadership development programs supported by RWJF. These programs continue RWJF’s legacy of supporting the development of diverse leaders from across the nation. Initially focused on health care, the programs were expanded because the Foundation knows that building a Culture of Health requires every sector, profession, and discipline to work together. Additional information is available at