The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s director will be one of the few people responsible for identifying the defining criteria for public health in the United States over the next decade.

Sheri Johnson has been appointed to the Committee on Informing the Selection of Leading Health Indicators for Healthy People 2030, an initiative of the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Healthy People is a study that develops a new set of science-based, 10-year national objectives with the goal of improving the health of all Americans, according to its website. The program started in 1979 with what was then called “Healthy People: The Surgeon General’s Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

This new responsibility reflects the level of Johnson’s expertise in the research of environmental impacts on the health of underserved populations in Wisconsin, according to David Kindig, emeritus professor, population health sciences at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, who nominated Johnson for the committee.

“The National Academies have wisely chosen Sheri Johnson for this important role,” he said. “Her passion for improving the health of all members of society, particularly the most vulnerable, will be essential for their work.”

Her previous experience as state health officer and her current role as UW Population Health Institute director and leader of the Robert Wood Johnson County Rankings and Roadmaps and Culture of Health Prize programs make her uniquely qualified for this critical effort, according to Kindig.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine convene the committee.

Johnson’s committee’s recommendations regarding the criteria will be options for the Healthy People Federal Interagency Workgroup to consider as it develops the final criteria and set of indicators for Healthy People 2030.

Selecting the correct criteria for the Healthy People initiative is critical to understanding the health challenges facing the United States, Johnson said.

“This is an opportunity to help identify what we should focus on as a nation; it’s a chance to influence priority-setting,” she said. “Priority setting can lead to investments that advance progress.”