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Karen Timberlake to Lead UW Population Health Institute

Madison, Wisconsin - Karen Timberlake, former secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, has been named director of the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UW SMPH).


Karen Timberlake"During Karen's tenure as secretary, she led innovative efforts to improve the health status of all the people of Wisconsin, earning a reputation as a bright and well-respected leader with a rich knowledge of both medical care and public health issues," says Dr. Robert Golden, dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. "I am delighted to have her join our faculty to lead the Population Health Institute."


Timberlake currently serves as director of the Partnership for Healthcare Payment Reform, a project of the Wisconsin Health Information Organization.


The group joins together health care providers insurers, and employers to create innovative pilot projects to improve the quality and affordability of health care in Wisconsin.


Timberlake served as DHS secretary from 2008 to the end of 2010. As secretary, Timberlake was known for her collaborative approach to major initiatives including development of the state's health plan, Healthiest Wisconsin 2020, and the design of statewide electronic health information exchange.


Under her leadership, DHS tackled a number of public health issues, ranging from expanding farm to school programs to reduce childhood obesity, improving birth outcomes for at-risk mothers in urban areas, and expanding screening for alcohol and drug abuse.


Timberlake also led the department's efforts to make Wisconsin a national leader in extending affordable health insurance to low-income citizens.


Steve Brenton, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, says that Timberlake is an excellent choice.


"Karen understands how to build consensus across the private and public sectors to address today's pressing population health challenges with evidence-based strategies," Brenton says.


Other health care leaders from around Wisconsin reacted with pleasure to Timberlake's appointment.


Curt Gielow, executive dean of the School of Pharmacy at Concordia University Wisconsin, says that Timberlake is an excellent choice to lead the institute. Gielow, who served in the Wisconsin Legislature for two terms as a Republican representative from Mequon, helped open Wisconsin's second pharmacy school in the fall of 2010.


"Karen brings a wealth of healthcare industry knowledge, a practical approach to public health initiatives and a reputation as a thoughtful, imaginative leader," Gielow says. "She's a great choice to bring academic and translational research efforts together to enhance public health in Wisconsin."


Dick Tillmar, a longtime commercial health insurance executive, and member of the leadership team of Well City Milwaukee, notes that Timberlake works well with the business community.


"I have a great deal of confidence in her ability to work effectively with business leaders to link research to practice and to create an understanding of how wellness, lifestyle change and prevention are critical to reducing health care spending," says Tillmar, who owns Tillmar Connect.


The UW Population Health Institute works to create and communicate public health and health-policy research and analysis. Working with public health and health policy practitioners in Wisconsin and nationally, the Institute strives to advance public health and health-policy decisions that improve the health of the people of Wisconsin.


One of the institute's major efforts is the County Health Rankings, which every year rank the health status indicators of every county in the United States.


"We are very excited about what Karen can bring to this position, including the respect that people across the political spectrum have for her integrity," says Dr. Javier Nieto, chairman of population health sciences and Helfaer Professor of Public Health. "This was a national search, with some very impressive finalists from around the country, and she impressed the committee with her track record for getting things done. Under her leadership, we expect a further strengthening of the institute's regional, national and international reputation."


Timberlake, who earned a law degree from Harvard University, served in a number of administrative roles in state government, including leadership positions in the Office of State Employment Relations and the Department of Justice. She will begin work at UW-Madison October 1 and will join the population health sciences faculty as an associate professor on the clinical sciences track.

Date Published: 07/25/2011

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Karen Timberlake to Lead UW Population Health Institute

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