Texas Research-to-Policy Collaboration Project

The Texas Research-to-Policy Collaboration (Texas RPC) project is a non-partisan network that aims to bridge research and policy by supporting partnerships between child health researchers and policymakers. The Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living is implementing this program, with the intent of identifying state policy priorities, and preparing and engaging researchers (our Network) to serve as resources for policymakers to promote health, with a focus on child health, during the interim and throughout the 2021 Legislative Session.

While the ultimate goal is to advance the use of public health scientific information in the policymaking process, it is expected that responding to policymakers’ existing interests and evidence questions will support the timeliness and usefulness of research in the context of trusting, consultative relationships. Therefore, our primary intermediary objective is to facilitate researcher-policymaker partnerships.

Our goal for 2020 is to build capacity for implementation by growing the TX RPC Research Network and connecting with legislative leaders on policies that shape public health. This project will support the facilitation of at least 10 researcher-policymaker partnerships in 2019-2021.


The Texas RPC project is conducted by the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin, with project funding provided by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The Texas RPC project will allow us to assist legislators and provide better use of Texas research, data, and resources.



The Texas RPC Network will recruit researchers from the following partners:

  • Live Smart Texas
  • The Partnership for a Healthy Texas
  • Texas Public Health Coalition
  • The Texas Health Improvement Network through the UT System Population Health
  • UTHealth School of Public Health faculty in Texas, representative of other geographies
  • Other academic institutions
  • Professional associations

For successful partnerships around current policy issues, researchers will be matched based on:

  • Their areas of health-related research interests and experiences
  • Availability to commit to a partnership, preparation for policy engagement (e.g., trainings and hands-on support or guidance through coaching or modeling)
  • Locale in relation to the legislator’s region

Matches are made for Rapid Response Meetings, which may occur in different locations of the state to accommodate the availability of legislators and researchers.

A confidential baseline interview will be conducted to assess legislators’ use of research evidence as it relates to public health issue areas.

  • A semi-structured policy identification needs assessment interview will be conducted with a broader group of legislators beginning in Fall 2019 and continuing throughout 2020
  • Legislators will be prioritized for their involvement based on their interest in public health issues, which is to be gleaned by their (co)sponsorship on relevant bills and public statements


Capacity building trainings (web-based and in-person) in the RPC framework will be provided for network members.

Legislators who are highly engaged and interested on public health issues, particularly those in leadership roles on relevant Committees and Caucuses, will be identified, and initial relationship development with the Texas RPC will begin with meetings with TX RPC researchers to discuss policy priorities for 2021.

These research-legislator partnerships will inform and develop stronger legislative efforts based on Texas data. In addition, these partnerships will provide for more efficient and appropriate use of Texas data in real time.

Research Team

Deanna M. Hoelscher, PhD, RDN, LN, CNS, FISBNPA, Principal Investigator 
Alexandra van den Berg, PhD, MPH, Co-Investigator
Tiffni Menendez, MPH, Project Director
Kathleen Manuel, Research Assistant II
Melissa Campos-Hernandez, MPH, Research Assistant III
Christine Jovanovic, MPH, Post Doc
Amelia Roebuck, MPH, Dell Health Scholar
Shelby Flores-Thorpe, Doctoral Student


Max Crowley, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Taylor Scott, PhD, Pennsylvania State University 


Joel Romo, The Cooper Institute
Clayton Travis, MSSW, Texas Pediatric Society
Donna Nichols

Advisory Committee Organizations:

For more information, email TXRPCNetwork@uth.tmc.edu

The Texas Research-to-Policy Collaboration Project team and overall network are available to support Texas policymakers with informational requests or resources related to health topics, during the interim and throughout the 2021 Legislative Session.  Please direct requests to TXRPCNetwork@uth.tmc.edu