Institute of Medicine Celebrates 40th Anniversary of RWJF Health Policy Fellows Program

National Academy of MedicineWASHINGTON — This year the Institute of Medicine celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health Policy Fellows Program, which is now widely considered one of the nation’s most prestigious learning experiences at the nexus of health science, policy, and politics.

“We are deeply grateful for the generous support by the RWJF over the last four decades,” said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg. “And we hope that we continue to build a culture of health and promote the health of the nation together for decades to come.”

In 1974, the first cohort of six fellows arrived at the IOM. This exceptional group of faculty from academic health centers came to Washington for a year to work in congressional offices. Originally intended to forge a mutually beneficial link between academic health centers and government, the program targeted promising faculty to work in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate, or the executive branch. The two-month orientation included site visits to key health-related federal agencies along with seminars on a wide range of health policy topics, which culminated in fellowship assignments on Capitol Hill or in the executive branch. Over the years, the program’s focus has evolved to reach beyond academic health centers and include behavioral and social scientists as well as leaders in community health care organizations and government. The orientation has grown to three-and-a-half months and now includes state site visits, leadership coaching, expanded networking opportunities with other fellowship and scholar programs, and media training.

For 40 years this non-partisan fellowship has offered exclusive, hands-on policy experience in the nation’s capital. Working hand-in-hand with key players in federal health policy, 252 fellows from across the nation have gained an insider’s perspective of the political process, developed unmatched leadership skills, and built an extensive professional network.

Previous fellows have become some of the most influential thinkers and leaders in the health care field. As chancellors and deans at major academic institutions, presidents of professional societies and voluntary health organizations, leaders in all areas of government, and experts at think tanks and advocacy groups, former fellows are transforming U.S. health care policy and practice.

The RWJF Health Policy Fellows is a national program of the foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by IOM. Additional information can be found at

Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.


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