IHA was established as an organized research unit (ORU) of the University of California, School of Nursing in 1985. It was the University of California's first campus-wide ORU devoted to the study of health and aging issues. The original mission of the Institute was to “foster multidisciplinary, collaborative research, education, and public service in the field of health and aging.” Over the years, the mission of the Institute has continued to stress multidisciplinary, collaborative research, education, and public service. Within these three realms, the Institute has expanded its research interests to encompass more broadly issues of health, illness, and social and economic policy research that impact the aging process and the elderly population across the life course. We have come to realize that many of the health-related disparities and issues that pertain to the elderly as a subpopulation have their seeds earlier in the life course. Expanding the scope of our work under the rubric of “health” has allowed us focus our research and public service efforts more powerfully on the promotion of health and prevention of disease in old age.
The Institute provides education and training in aging and health services through several pre- and postdoctoral programs, and through the teaching involvement of our faculty in mentoring, serving on student committees, and in the classroom. For many years, we have been an active partner in the IHA/IHPS (Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies) Policy Fellowship Program. The program is designed to provide and advance career opportunities for scholars in academic and applied research settings and stimulate research by offering graduate and postdoctoral scholars training and dissertation research opportunities related to health and aging. The postdoctoral training consists of supervised research, career counseling, and a seminar program that includes seminars in health policy research, health services research, methods, and writing. The program has been funded by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Institute for Health & Aging is one of the premier health and aging research units in the world, and our research is recognized nationally and internationally. IHA faculty members have made major contributions to the fields of health policy, aging, health promotion, the economics of tobacco control, and disability; and are major collaborators with both the California Department of Public Health and the United States Department of Health & Human Services.
Work of the Institute is conducted by individual researchers and through three research centers on the Laurel Heights campus, and through a research unit in Sacramento that carries out contract research for the State of California. Together, these sources have produced an extraordinary number and variety of respected, oftentimes seminal, research studies.
Over the years, the Institute’s programs of research, public service, and education have grown beyond the historical emphasis on aging and aging health policy. Our collaborative, multidisciplinary academic environment has attracted new faculty and has enabled the Institute to expand in new directions. Today, IHA faculty primarily conduct research, public service, and educational activities in five substantive areas: 1) aging, disability, and long-term services and supports; 2) women’s health; 3) child health; 4) health of diverse populations; and 5) health promotion.