Kaiser Permanente Creates Endowed Chair for Health Disparities Research in Honor of Merwyn R. (Mitch) Greenlick

(PORTLAND, Ore.) – Kaiser Permanente Northwest announced today that it has donated $1.5 million to Northwest Health Foundation to create the Merwyn R. (Mitch) Greenlick Scientist for Health Disparities. The endowed position honors Dr. Greenlick, the founding director of Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research (CHR). Under his leadership from 1964 to 1995, the CHR became a nationally renowned research institution that played a key role in federal legislation to provide health care to disadvantaged populations. A national search is now under way to find a first-rate scientist trained in health disparities research to carry on this legacy. The scientist who is hired will be located at the CHR in Portland, Oregon.

“I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to have the Center for Health Research endowed scientist position created and named for me,” says Dr. Greenlick. “This represents the intersection of three things that have been central to my professional life – the Center for Health Research, health services research, and improving the health care of disadvantaged members of society.” In addition to having led the Center for Health Research for 31 years, Dr. Greenlick also served as chair of the department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine at OHSU from 1990 to 2000. He is currently serving his fourth term in the Oregon State Legislature, representing District 33.

“I am very proud that Kaiser Permanente has chosen to use some of its community benefit funds to endow this new position in health disparities research,” says Mary L. Durham, PhD, vice president/research for Kaiser Permanente and director of the Center for Health Research. “Finding ways to reduce health disparities is one of the best things we can do to benefit the communities we serve. We know there are significant differences among people in access to health care, in medical treatment, and in health outcomes depending on their gender, race or ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. What we need to discover are effective ways to reduce or eliminate these health disparities.”

“I am also extremely pleased that this new position honors Dr. Greenlick,” Durham says. “I can think of no one who better deserves to have his lifetime work carried on by new generations of researchers. In his long and illustrious career as a researcher, leader of a health research institution, and head of the public health and preventive medicine department at Oregon’s only medical school, he has been dedicated to closing gaps in health disparities. Today, he is carrying on that same important work as an elected official by sponsoring legislation to bring affordable and effective health care to more Oregonians. We are confident we will find an eminent scientist to fill the position that bears Mitch’s name and to move forward this very important work.”

“Dr. Greenlick has been a public health leader in Oregon for decades and a personal inspiration to me,” says Thomas Aschenbrener, president of the Northwest Health Foundation. “Our community is deeply impacted by health disparities, so it makes a good deal of sense for the Northwest Health Foundation to create an endowed research position at the Center for Health Research. This is an important, new opportunity to advance the public’s health. We are pleased to play a part in bringing new resources and focus to Oregon.”

Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, founded in 1964, is a non-profit research institution whose mission is advancing knowledge to improve health.

Kaiser Permanente Northwest is a prepaid group practice health care organization serving the medical needs of 475,000 people in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

The Northwest Health Foundation is an independent, charitable foundation working to advance, support and promote the health of the people of Oregon and southwest Washington. Since its founding in 1997, NWHF has awarded more than $40 million to organizations serving the health needs of the region.

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