LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

LSU Health’s Wennerstrom Awarded RWJ Team Fellowship

Ashley Wennerstrom, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor at LSU Health New Orleans Schools of Public Health and Medicine, has been selected as a fellow on of one of 15 teams of researchers and community members of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 2019 class of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders. Designed for teams of two researchers and one community leader, the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) Program fosters collaborative leadership and supports fellows as they work with their communities to investigate critical issues and apply findings in real time to advance health and equity.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, each year, a new class of fellows from across the United States begin the IRL program and has the opportunity to build their leadership skills, implement a community-engaged, action-oriented and rigorous research project, and learn effective strategies to increase the impact of their research through dissemination, communication, and community organizing. Collaborating across sectors and disciplines, the fellows build connections between factors that shape health, well-being and equity—such as education, neighborhoods, social services, income and faith.

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Dr. Wennerstrom is a member of Team Louisiana, along with Bruce Reilly, JD, Deputy Director of Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), and Andrea Armstrong, JD, MPA, Professor of Law at Loyola University. Team Louisiana will examine the effects of incarceration on health service use in Louisiana, which currently is a global and national leader in incarceration rates. The study will assess current health practices and policies affecting people serving state sentences for criminal convictions, experiences with receiving and delivering health care in carceral settings, as well as analysis of health services use post-incarceration.

Team Louisiana’s project includes an environmental scan of health care and transitional services delivery in Louisiana's jails and prisons; qualitative interviews with people who have been incarcerated people and their health care providers; and analysis of whether health services use differs among people who have a history of incarceration.

Ashley Wennerstrom PhD MPH

Ashley Wennerstrom, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor at LSU Health New Orleans Schools of Public Health and Medicine

“Incarceration has tremendous impacts on both individual and community health,” notes Wennerstrom. “This support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will help us better understand how to mitigate those effects, promote successful reentry, and improve the health of communities throughout Louisiana.”

To learn more about Interdisciplinary Research Leaders and RWJF's other leadership programs, and to meet other participants, visit

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans (LSU Health New Orleans) educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's health sciences university leader, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSU Health New Orleans faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research, the LSU Health New Orleans research enterprise generates jobs and enormous annual economic impact. LSU Health New Orleans faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit,, or