ANN ARBOR — A Harvard University doctor and leader in health policy research who has devoted his career to making health care better and more fair will head a large new University of Michigan institute that focuses on those same goals.

In a speech Tuesday, UM President Mary Sue Coleman announced the intended appointment of John Z. Ayanian, M.D., as the first director of the UM Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, which will be housed at UM’s new North Campus Research Complex, the former Pfizer Inc. research campus on Ann Arbor’s northeast side.

READ MORE: COVID-19 Vaccines Saved Nearly 20 Million Lives In First Year, Study Says

Ayanian will become the director of one of the world’s largest groups of health care and health policy researchers, involving more than 400 experts from across UM and partner organizations.

Beginning in November, he will work with those members to develop IHPI’s potential as one of the nation’s powerhouses of health services research, health care policy development and new ideas in health care delivery.

“John’s stellar credentials include work on a broad range of health care issues, from uninsurance and disparities in care to the factors that impact the quality of care,” said Coleman, who worked with Ayanian on the Institute of Medicine’s landmark Committee on the Consequences of Uninsurance. “As we build this institute to leverage the vast expertise of our faculty and partners, I am confident John will lead in a way that will help our research make the most impact.”

Medical School dean James O. Woolliscroft notes that Ayanian’s particular blend of skills give him an excellent background for shaping IHPI and fulfilling its potential. “With experience in the clinical realm, and in the world of public policy, he’s uniquely poised to ensure that the work of IHPI members translates into action to improve the way health care is provided, paid for and regulated,” he says.

Ayanian is currently a professor of medicine and of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, a professor in health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a practicing primary care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Since 2008, he has directed the Health Disparities Research Program of Harvard Catalyst, Harvard’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Center, the Outcomes Research Program of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and the Harvard Medical School Fellowship in General Medicine and Primary Care.

He studies the effects of race, ethnicity, gender and insurance coverage on access to care and clinical outcomes, and the impact of physician specialty and organizational characteristics on the quality of care for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and other major health conditions.

Ayanian will now lead an institute whose members, like him, mine vast quantities of health care data to assess the impact of policy, payment and practice changes on patients’ health. From diabetes, cancer and heart disease to mental health, children’s health and hospital care, IHPI members study issues related to a broad range of conditions.

READ MORE: Michigan Ballot Initiative Aims To Protect Abortion Rights

IHPI includes faculty from a broad range of disciplines across the university. It draws about half of its members from the Medical School, one third from 11 other schools, colleges and institutes across UM, and other members from outside entities focused on health care research.

Since June, IHPI’s building at the UM North Campus Research Complex has become home to many of the institute’s faculty, staff and trainees, who have already begun to work together in new ways because of their closer physical proximity. Soon, the building will welcome a group of 150 researchers and staff from the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System’s Center for Clinical Management Research, one of only 14 health services research centers funded by the Veterans Administration.

Beyond the physical building, IHPI is a virtual hub to bring this diverse community of researchers together in new ways. IHPI is working to offer researchers the services they need to advance their research. An interim leadership team has led the institute’s formative efforts since 2011.

Now, as IHPI’s first director, Ayanian will work to strengthen existing research partnerships and stimulate new ones, set research priorities, recruit faculty together with U-M’s schools and colleges, appoint associate directors, form an external advisory board and raise IHPI’s visibility nationally.

For the next 10 months, Ayanian will transition from Harvard to Michigan and hold part-time appointments at both institutions. Next September, pending the approval of the UM Board of Regents, he will become a collegiate professor in the Division of General Medicine, part of the Medical School’s Department of Internal Medicine.

He graduated from Duke University, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. After a residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he completed fellowships in general internal medicine and health services research at Harvard. He began his faculty career at Harvard in 1992. He and his wife, Anne Fox Ayanian, have a daughter and son in college and a daughter completing high school.

Ayanian has led numerous studies assessing access to care, quality of care, and health care disparities, including current research comparing the quality of care in traditional Medicare with that provided by Medicare managed care plans. He is the author of more than 230 research papers, reviews, editorials and book chapters.

Elected to the Institute of Medicine, the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, Ayanian is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians. In 2012 he received the John M. Eisenberg Award for Career Achievement in Research from the Society of General Internal Medicine, and his past honors include the Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

MORE NEWS: AG Nessel Says Abortions Are Still Legal In Michigan

More at