ICH Launches Leah Zallman Center for Immigrant Health Research

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Interdisciplinary center honoring the memory of noted physician and researcher hosts virtual kickoff celebration on February 15


The Institute for Community Health (ICH), a nonprofit consulting organization co-founded by community health system Cambridge Health Alliance, is pleased to announce the launch of the Leah Zallman Center for Immigrant Health Research. The Center honors the memory of Leah Zallman, MD, MPH, director of research at the Institute for Community Health and a primary care physician at CHA’s East Cambridge Care Center,who passed away in November 2020.

Dr. Zallman dedicated her career to improving the lives of vulnerable communities, both in clinical care and policy. She conducted extensive research on health disparities including immigrant healthcare financing, and her publications influenced the national conversation on reducing barriers to care for vulnerable populations. She also played a critical role in shaping CHA’s organizational commitment to addressing the social determinants of health for its patients and communities.

“Leah was a gifted researcher, treasured colleague, and wonderful friend to everyone at ICH,” said Sarah Jalbert, executive director of ICH. “We are so proud to be able to honor her research legacy through this Center.”

The Leah Zallman Center expands on those ideals in its mission to advance immigrant, economic, and health justice. The Center will partner with immigrant communities, advocates, policymakers, and social and health systems on actionable research to create positive social change and improve community health. Grounded in clinical practice and advocacy, the Center will develop a community of immigrant scholars and grow and share knowledge to enhance immigrant health and well-being through presentations, facilitated dialogue with policymakers, and conferences. “We envision a Center that embodies Leah’s upbeat spirit of generosity, collaboration, and respect,” said David Bor, MD, one of Dr. Zallman’s mentors, chief academic officer at CHA, and a co-founder of ICH.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to build upon Dr. Leah Zallman’s legacy and create a vibrant interdisciplinary research center focused on immigrant health. Leah is my co-director in spirit,” said Jessica Santos, PhD, the Center’s inaugural director, who most recently served at Brandeis University as the director of community-engaged research at the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity (IERE) at the Heller School for Social Policy & Management.

The Center will host a virtual kickoff celebration on Tuesday, February 15, at 12 p.m. Titled “Hope in Power,” the event will feature guest speakers Sam Hyun, activist and former chairperson of the Massachusetts Asian American Commission, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Denzil Mohammed, director of the Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute. The event is open to the public – click here to register. For more information about the Center, visit https://immigranthealth.org/.

The Institute for Community Health was founded in 2000 by Cambridge Health Alliance, Mount Auburn Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital of Partners HealthCare. These founding organizations had a vision of improving the health of the communities they serve, and created ICH to be a resource for community-based research and evaluation, health assessment, technical assistance, and dissemination. Located in Malden, Mass., ICH now works with clients locally and regionally on research and evaluation projects spanning a wide range of sectors and topic areas. ICH’s work is driven by its mission to improve community health through participatory evaluation, applied research, assessment, planning, training, and technical assistance.