Katy Backes Kozhimannil

Professor, Researcher


Katy Backes Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She is the Director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center which conducts policy-relevant research to improve the lives of rural residents and families, to advance health equity, and to enhance the vitality of rural communities. Dr. Kozhimannil also directs the University of Minnesota Rural Health Program, which provides training and support for addressing public health challenges in rural Minnesota and connects local experts with national research and policy work.

Dr. Kozhimannil conducts research to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies that improve health during critical times in the lifecourse, including pregnancy and childbirth. The goal of her scholarly work is to contribute to the evidence base to advance racial, gender, and geographic equity and to collaborate with stakeholders in making policy change to address social determinants and structural injustice. Dr. Kozhimannil’s work on racial justice has challenged norms in the field of public health, and is a central tenet of her contributions toward health equity.  Her work elevating the health of mothers, the unique strengths and challenges in rural places, and the centrality of racial justice is unique and so powerfully impactful that she was awarded the 25th annual Heinz Award in the Public Policy category in 2020.

Dr. Kozhimannil’s research, published in major journals such as Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Health Affairs, American Journal of Public Health, and Medical Care, has been widely cited.  Media coverage of her research, including feature stories by the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, and the Huffington Post, has generated dialogue, interest and policy action at local, state, and national levels. In addition to conducting research, Dr. Kozhimannil teaches courses that build skills for effective engagement in the policy process, and works extensively with community organizations and state and federal policy makers on efforts to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities, starting at birth.   

TOPICS: Health, Disparities, Policy 

In the News

USA Today

New research finds growth in suicidal thoughts and self-harm during and after pregnancy

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Daily Yonder

Report: As Obstetrics Units in Rural Hospitals Close, Black Rural Moms and Infants Face Higher Mortality Rates

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