Director’s Message

Dear friends and supporters,

Welcome to the new UCLA Center for Health Policy Research website. It’s hard to believe, but 2024 will mark the 30th anniversary of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Over the last 29+ years, the Center has pioneered ways to democratize data and put it into the hands of the public in ways that inform, educate, and create change. At the heart of our work lies a profound understanding that health is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all. 

Health equity is not a destination, but an enduring process.

I began working at the Center as a research scientist in 1999, just a few years before we launched the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). UCLA CHPR founder and director Dr. E. Richard “Rick” Brown was a fierce advocate for health care reform, and he knew that the way to policy change and action was evidence. We made sure that data didn’t just sit on a shelf, but was accessible and widely disseminated through our public use files and AskCHIS free web query tool. Today, CHIS is the largest population-based state health survey in the nation and the premier source of credible and comprehensive data on the health and health care needs of California’s large and diverse population. A model for health surveys for other states, CHIS is committed to ensuring everyone has access to data — policymakers, advocates, health care providers, community organizations, researchers, journalists, and the general public — to fight for policies that will improve the lives of Californians through better health and health care. 

Recently, I was talking to a UCLA CHPR alumna, who had gone on to work at one of the most distinguished organizations in the country, and returned home to the Center this year. When I asked her why she decided to come back, she said “because what we do matters.”  

I’ve heard that from so many of our staff and alumni over the years — and the word that gets me every time is “we.” What we do matters. Our organization, our research, our data, our accomplishments, our impact — all exist because of the people who put their hearts and souls into this work. Our collective efforts shape the future of health policy and improve the lives of countless individuals.  

We evaluate local, state, and national health care programs, policies, and initiatives through our Health Economics and Evaluation Research (HEER) Program. Through our CalSIM microsimulation models, we examine trends in health insurance coverage and track the impact of the ACA on all Californians. We work to understand how social drivers of health impact access to and quality of care, and influence health outcomes.  

We reveal health inequities among racial and ethnic groups, immigrants, older adults, LGBTQ+ communities, adults with disabilities, people with low incomes, and other underserved communities. We disaggregate data for communities who have long been made invisible, including Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and various racial and ethnic subgroups. We develop community-centered data dashboards and we train community organizations, policymakers, media, and the general public on how to find and use our data.  

We launched a national Data Equity Center that will focus on equity in all aspects of the design, collection, production, and dissemination of population health data, and provide technical assistance, expertise, and resources to increase the representation in and access to data for marginalized populations. Knowing that we means all of us. 

We know that without data equity, we will not achieve health equity. But we also recognize that health inequity is rooted in systemic injustice, and we will work together to dismantle these barriers and achieve health justice. Health equity is not a destination, but an enduring process.  

This work is not possible without the support of our community. I am so grateful to all of our funders, donors, partners, alumni, advocates, students and staff who share our vision and support our mission.  

I’ve only touched upon some key programs.  

Explore our new website and discover the countless ways our UCLA CHPR family — one hundred people strong — are providing data, tools, trainings, and insights to support your work. Together, we have the power to create lasting change and build a health care system that leaves no one behind.  

Here’s to the next 30 years!


Ninez A. Ponce, PhD, MPP

Director, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research 
Principal Investigator, California Health Interview Survey 
Professor and Fred and Pamela Wasserman Endowed Chair, Department of Health Policy and Management, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health