Improving Health

IU Indianapolis' Effort to Improve the Health of Hoosiers

We believe that a healthy community is a thriving one.

While Indiana is lauded as one of the top places to live in the US, we are not without our share of challenges. Continually high rates of chronic disease, obesity, smoking, and infant mortality are a consistent looming cloud over our communities.

As the state’s premier urban health and life sciences campus, IU Indianapolis seeks to improve the health of our state by educating the healthcare workforce, providing healthcare and wellness programs to the community, and advancing the efficacy of care through research.

Educating the Workforce

With a variety of health schools and programs, IU Indianapolis prides itself on educating the workforce of today and beyond. High-quality research, education, and collaborative efforts have resulted in the Indiana University School of Medicine being ranked 23 in the nation for primary care and the Indiana University School of Nursing ranked 37.

Enrollment Across Health and Medical Programs


Despite COVID-19 causing record drops in college enrollment across the country, IU Indianapolis maintained a consistent enrollment across its health and medical programs (School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, School of Dentistry, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Social Work). Along with this, the IU School of Dentistry has historically educated more than 80% of the state’s dentists and the IU School of Medicine educates more than 50% of the state’s doctors.

IAHEC Network

Outside of the Indianapolis campus, the Indiana Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network provides regional centers that assist in training, respond to emerging health issues, recruit minority students and provide continuing education. Nearly 3,000 of Indiana AHEC's students participated in both health workforce pathway programs and clinical training during 2022.

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Improving the Health of the Community

In fighting the various health crises across Indianapolis and the state, IU Indianapolis looks to improve the health of the community by providing direct patient care as well as preventative and wellness programs. Some of these programs are highlighted here.

IU Student Outreach Clinic

The Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic (IUSOC) is a free clinic which provides primary care-based medical, dental, social and legal services for uninsured residents in the Indianapolis community. This effort led by the IU School of Medicine helps close the health care gap in the community by addressing a wide variety of high-risk conditions including infections, musculoskeletal complaints, high blood pressure and depression. As an active and invaluable part of the community, IUSOC served over 1,600 patients and dispensed 2,700 prescriptionsin 2019 alone.

When somebody comes, what we want them to know is that we are open for the poor, for the under-served and we are interested in serving the uninsured, the under-insured and working poor families who can't afford to have any type of insurance.

Dr. Javier Sevilla

The IU School of Dentistry

The IU School of Dentistry provides a number of outreach programs including the Amish Community Dental Clinic, Healthy Smiles for Employability, and Shelter Sealant Program.

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SEAL Indiana

SEAL Indiana is a statewide mobile dental program that provides preventive oral health services for children who do not have adequate access to dental care. From the program’s inception in March 2003 to the end of September 2022, SEAL Indiana has served more than 23,000 children in the state at more than 1,100 sites. Such sites include Title I (or lowest income) schools, Head Start/youth programs, community health centers, and city shelters for homeless mothers and children.

Physically Active Residential Communities and Schools (PARCS)

Physically Active Residential Communities and Schools (PARCS) looks to fill the need local fitness centers and schools are unable to meet due to limitations in funding and time. As a collaboration between the School of Health & Human Sciences, Eskenazi Health, the Boner Fitness and Learning Center, and public schools in Indianapolis, the program has seen well over 30,000 community members exercise with the program with an average of 3,000 students and adults served each year since 2005.

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GoBabyGo is a collaborative program between IU Indianapolis' School of Health & Human Sciences as well as the School of Engineering and Technology that helps children in the community with motor and cognitive developmental delays. Since 2015, the program has dedicated over 200 student hours annually to design and build over 30 custom built cars for families in need.

The Diabetes Impact Project Indianapolis Neighborhoods

The Diabetes Impact Project Indianapolis Neighborhoods (DIP-IN) is a neighborhood-based program launched by the Fairbanks School of Public Health in collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company to address the high incidence of diabetes across three of Indianapolis’ most populated neighborhoods: The Northeast, Northwest, and Near West. As of the end of 2022, resident steering committees in the three communities have funded nearly 30 projects to improve the quality of life of residents and worked with over 500 clients who experience challenges managing their diabetes.

Your Life. Your Story.

Addressing the growing concerns of mental health on a local level, Your Life. Your Story. speaks to the estimated 12,000 Latino teens in Marion County who are suffering from depression and the 8,000 who have suicidal thoughts. With such staggering statistics, Dr. Silvia Bigatti took action to create a Latino youth summit that garnered 24 campers and 9 mentors in its first year of operation. The camp has grown to bring some of the self-confidence and self-worth building elements of the program to teens year-round.

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Safe Syringe Access and Support Program

When Madison Weintraut started working at the Marion County Public Health Department as a student of IU Indianapolis, she wanted to make a difference. Thanks to the support from a three-year grant from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Weintraut created the Safe Syringe Access and Support Program that provided community members with sterile syringes and harm-reduction kits. Since its launch, the program has grown to also provide HIV and hepatitis C screenings, immunizations, referrals for substance use disorder treatment, and has served over 70 individuals along with distributing over 300 naloxone kits.

When you take the time to sit down with people and walk them through why this type of program works, they can't argue against it.

Madison Weintraut

Scott County HIV Outbreak

After Indiana's rural Scott County found itself in the national spotlight when intravenous drug use and sharing needles led to the largest HIV outbreak in a nonurban area in the U.S. among people who inject drugs, Indiana University's Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenge had to step in. The program brought together a team of 32 researchers leading work around stigma, new treatment options, prevention and harm reduction, law and policy, and the economic impact of the opioid crisis and how it is affecting our workforce.

COVID-19 Pandemic

While the health of the community has been an integral part of the university’s mission, 2019 saw a new crisis in the form the COVID-19 Pandemic. On top of providing multiple vaccine clinics and running mask making operations, researchers from the School of Science at IUPUI developed a fast and efficient COVID-19 biosensor. Led by Rajesh Sardar, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology, and Adrianna Masterson, a graduate student in Sardar's lab, the biosensor was able to analyze samples from 96 individuals in under three hours. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the system required only 10 microliters of blood compared to the typical 10 milliliters of blood required by a primary-care physician – over 1,000 times less.

Everyone is chasing high-throughput testing; this type of high-speed analysis is essential to the future of the fight against COVID-19. There are many advantages to our technology in particular: It's fast, efficient, accurate and unprecedentedly sensitive.

Rajesh Sardar

Advancing Care Through Research

Advancing care has been a part of IUPUI's tradition since its inception. In the mid-20th century, Indiana Dental College doctors Joseph Muhler and Harry Day developed a dentifrice that would be branded as Crest Toothpaste, one of the most recognizable oral health brands. Such tradition has continued through the exceptional grants and partnerships that have led to advancements in health research.

Precision Health Initiative

Thanks to IU Health and grants from public and private sources, the Precision Health Initiative has invested in six major scientific pillars and partners with The Good Manufacturing Practice Facility which enables scientists to that will identify prevention and treatment strategies that are more personalized to an individual’s genetic, developmental, behavioral and environmental factors.

Explore the Precision Health Initiative

Prepared for Environmental Change Initiative

Through the Prepared for Environmental Change initiative, IU Indianapolis has become one of only five institutes considered by the United States Geological Survey as a hub for truly understanding climate change's impact on wildlife. Along with this, the challenge has spawned the Environmental Resilience Institute and the McKinney Climate Fellows program which has served over 64,000 hours across nearly 100 Indiana-based organizations centered on sustainability and environmental affairs.

Learn more about the Prepared for Environmental Change Initiative

Respond to the Addictions Crisis Initiative

The initiative to Respond to the Addictions Crisis looked to work closely with Indiana government officials and organizations and gather researchers from multiple colleges in medicine, public health, informatics, education to confront the ever-growing addiction problem facing Hoosiers on a state-wide level. Relationships with 160 organizations, researchers are working quicker than ever to expand clinical training capacity, conduct public health research, improve access to health services, and improve rates of harm reduction.

Learn more about the Respond to the Addictions Crisis Initiative

IU School of Nursing Research Centers

The IU School of Nursing has focused on improving the quality of health and life via five separate research centers. While the Champion Center for Cancer Control Research and The Center for Enhancing Quality of Life in Chronic Illness specifically target the burdens of cancer and chronic illness on both the patient and family level, The FINE Center focuses on nursing education and provides a structure to coordinate efforts for preparing nurses who wish to become educators, system leaders, or researchers. The latest addition to the family of centers is The Social Network Health Research Lab which looks to harness Big Data, especially in the form of social media, to investigate and inform policy and interventions that will improve human health on an organically concurrent level.

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Social Determinants of Health

Lisa Staten, an associate professor of social and behavioral sciences at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, created a study to properly research and record how the location you were born and raised within the city has more to do with how long you will live than your genetic makeup. Using the Monon Trail as the point of measurement, Staten's study went on to show that as someone moves down the Monon to the south, life expectancy drops. Such a major finding saw the rise in a need for activism to help the city’s urban core.

Environmental Health

IUPUI Center for Urban Health, founded and directed by Chancellor's Professor and Executive Director of the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute Gabe Filippelli, is grounded in long-term health and sustainability in our community by addressing environmental injustices. Such practices include identifying pollutants and contaminants, promoting safe, equitable, and just access to fresh produce, as well as ensuring abundant access to naturalized green spaces.

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