Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, November 7, 2016

Austin takes leadership role at Evidence-Based Health Policy Project

Austin takes leadership role at Evidence-Based Health Policy Project

Sam Austin (MIPA ’08) joined the Evidence-Based Health Policy Project at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as its director in mid-October. Austin previously served as a budget analyst with the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB).

At the LFB, Austin was the lead analyst for state and federal health programs, including Medicaid, FoodShare, tobacco control, maternal and child health, and the Affordable Care Act. He also staffed the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee and consulted with cabinet-level agencies.

“Access to evidence showing what works is vital for good public policy, and I’m extremely excited to find ways to best connect research at UW-Madison to the policymaking process at the Capitol and elsewhere,” said Austin. “This project exemplifies The Wisconsin Idea in action, where the university benefits the state as a whole.”

Austin received his bachelor’s degree in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies, and Spanish from UW–Madison in 2006. Upon graduation from the La Follette School, he was honored with the Director’s Achievement Award for his outstanding academic record.

“The quantitative and writing skills I learned at La Follette have been indispensable in my career, but more importantly, the school gave me the tools to think critically about public policy and to communicate effectively with different audiences,” said Austin, who along with his wife Kerri, a physician with UW Health, has three young children. “I can’t say enough about the La Follette faculty, but I am particularly grateful to Professor Bobbi Wolfe for helping spark my interest in health policy.”

The Evidence-Based Health Policy Project (EBHPP) connects lawmakers, researchers, and public- and private-sector leaders to advance Wisconsin’s health by:

Providing policymakers, in both the public and private sectors, with timely, nonpartisan, high-quality information for evidence-based decision-making

Increasing the involvement of UW faculty research and teaching activities in topical issues of state public policy

The EBHPP is a project of the La Follette School of Public Affairs, the Population Health Institute at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and the Wisconsin Legislative Council. It seeks to bridge medicine and health policy, and research and practice, and to link academic research in a meaningful way in service to government and the Wisconsin Legislature.

Since its creation in 2007, the project has conducted 48 briefings and other forums that engage UW–Madison faculty members in immediate matters of state health policy and delivers timely and relevant university-generated research to the state Legislature for use in policy deliberations. More than 2,000 people have participated in the EBHPP during its first decade of serving the state.

The EBHPP is funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program, the Chancellor’s Office at UW–Madison, and the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.