Legal Epidemiology Learning Cohort

Recording of information session and Q&A

Thank you for your interest in the Legal Epidemiology Learning Cohort. The cohort is a 10-month learning opportunity in which participants will learn the skills to design and implement their own legal epidemiology projects. To help with completing our online interest form, we hosted an information session and Q&A on Thursday, November 17, 2022. Below is a recording of the presentation plus a summary of questions and answers that emerged from the session.

This summary supplements the information and frequently asked questions on our cohort opportunity resource page, which we encourage you to review. Note that to be considered for participation, you must complete an online interest form by December 1, 2022. You may reach out to if you have remaining questions after reviewing these materials.


This webinar was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $210,000 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The views expressed in written webinar materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the US Government.

Logistical & Process Questions on Cohort Administration

How many teams will be selected to participate in the 2023-2024 learning cohort?

The 2023-2024 learning cohort will include approximately 5 teams. The final number of teams may be adjusted slightly, depending on CDC funding approvals.

What is the estimated monthly time commitment for participating teams? How many hours per month did past participants dedicate to their projects?

All core team members will be required to participate in the following:

  • Monthly peer learning sessions that are typically 1–2 hours long. Longer meetings may be scheduled for our kickoff and final sessions.
  • Monthly technical assistance calls with PHLP and/or ChangeLab Solutions staff that are typically 1 hour long.

By core team members, we mean individuals who are directly involved in carrying out the project work and research. Core team members do not include individuals who serve only in a consultant role on the project.

In addition to peer learning sessions and technical assistance calls, participating teams will be expected to complete homework assignments to move their legal epidemiology projects forward. The number of staff hours required for a legal epidemiology project depends on several variables related to the overall scope and complexity of your research.

Past participants shared that their teams dedicated about 12 to 20 total hours per month to working on their legal epidemiology projects, in addition to the time spent on peer learning sessions and technical assistance calls. This time commitment reflects work needed for legal epidemiology projects that mapped laws in 3 to 10 jurisdictions, with teams of 3 to 5 people, in which the 12- to 20-hour total time commitment was divided across team members. Legal epidemiology projects that aim to survey laws in a greater number of jurisdictions may need to dedicate more hours per month to the work, depending on the complexity of the laws. 

Is there a cap on the number of people who can be included on a legal epidemiology project team? Which team members are required to join the peer learning sessions and technical assistance calls?

Although the size of a successful team will vary according to the project scope, at a minimum, legal epidemiology research teams typically include three people: two researchers and one project supervisor. The project supervisor will contribute to the research as well as facilitating project management, setting deadlines, and serving as a champion for the work with internal and external partners. (Alternatively, the project supervisor may delegate some or all of these duties to another team member.)

There is no cap on the number of people who can be included on a legal epidemiology project team. Note that only core team members who are directly involved in the research will be required to attend the monthly peer learning sessions and technical assistance calls. While partners who are consulting on the project are welcome to sit in on some or all of the sessions and calls, their participation is not required.

Do all team members need to be from the same geographic region? 

No, team members do not all need to be from the same geographic region. However, regardless of where team members are located, your team will be required to settle on a set of jurisdictions that you want to study.

Is each team required to have a health department partner?

As noted on our cohort opportunity resource page, the learning cohort is supported by the Public Health Law Program within the CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support (CSTLTS). CSTLTS is committed to improving community health outcomes by strengthening state, tribal, local, and territorial public health agencies, as well as developing strategic partnerships and enhancing health system coordination and collaboration.

In line with this mission, the learning cohort is geared toward teams from state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments. We will also consider teams from health organizations such as community-based organizations, nonprofits, trade groups, university-based research centers and institutes, and others. Health organizations like these are encouraged to partner with a health department on their legal epidemiology project, to expand the skills and reach of individual organizations and provide opportunities for cross-sector collaboration, although such a partnership is not required.

What resources are required for participating in the learning cohort other than staff time? 

Sufficient staff time and access to subject-matter expertise (e.g., attorneys, policy experts, evaluators, data scientists) are the primary resources required for participation in the learning cohort. Note that having team members with expertise in law and/or quantitative and qualitative research is not required to participate, though it is encouraged.

What funding is available? How is funding distributed if there are multiple entities partnering on a single team?

Through a partnership with CDC, ChangeLab Solutions is pleased to offer a stipend of approximately $20,000 to public health agencies or organizations that participate in the learning cohort. The final amount of funding will depend on the number of health departments and organizations selected to participate. While these funds will help to offset the costs of participating in the learning cohort, they likely will not cover all expenses associated with participation.

The stipend will be paid directly to each participating agency or organization, pursuant to a mutually agreed-upon services contract between the participating agency and ChangeLab Solutions. If multiple entities are partnering, they will need to select one entity to be the lead partner who will contract with ChangeLab Solutions and receive the stipend. The partners can decide on their own how to allocate the funding.

In addition to the stipend that will be paid directly to the participating agency, ChangeLab Solutions is pleased to offer funding to cover the costs of travel for approximately three members of each participating team to attend one in-person meeting. Some travel expenses will likely be paid directly on behalf of the participating agency (e.g., lodging, airfare), while other costs may be reimbursed (e.g., meals and incidentals up to the federal per diem rate).

What travel is required for participating teams? 

We are tentatively planning one in-person meeting for learning cohort participants, which will likely take place in March 2023 at CDC’s campus in Atlanta, Georgia. Plans for an in-person meeting may be adjusted, depending on COVID-19 travel restrictions and other considerations. We strongly encourage in-person attendance, to enable peer networking with other teams and participation in hands-on activities. However, if travel is not possible for some or all team members, we may be able to make accommodations for virtual attendance on a case-by-case basis. 

Can teams participate without receiving any funding? 

If you are not interested in receiving a stipend to offset the costs of participating in the learning cohort, you can indicate that on your interest form. Note, however, that whether we will have capacity to train and support more than approximately five teams in the learning cohort is still to be determined, regardless of how many teams receive funding. 

What deliverables will be required pursuant to the mutually agreed-upon services contract with ChangeLab Solutions? Are there any reporting requirements?

Each health department or organization that is selected to participate will enter into a mutually agreed-upon services contract with ChangeLab Solutions. The contract will outline the health department or organization’s commitment to participate in all monthly peer learning sessions, which may include attending an in-person meeting; complete a legal epidemiology dataset or other mutually agreed-upon final project deliverable (e.g., background memo); and pilot all learning materials and provide feedback on all related trainings, tools, and resources. Project deliverables will be due by the end of the 10-month learning cohort. 

The participant will be supervised by ChangeLab Solutions' project management and finance staff through an established internal controls procedure including: working in close collaboration to develop deliverables; evaluating deliverables to ensure they are of high and consistent quality; monitoring progress on deliverables through reporting systems that are established between ChangeLab Solutions and its service providers. These systems include a contract, itemized invoices, progress reports, timely submission of deliverables, annual report, and program evaluation. Invoices from the participant will be reviewed by staff regarding work/deliverables completed and regarding allowable cost reimbursement and compliance with a contract. Outside of these expectations, there are no formal reporting requirements.

Please email to request a copy of our contract template.

Are participants required to share research or data with CDC or ChangeLab Solutions?

Participants will be required to share homework assignments with technical assistance providers from CDC along the way, to facilitate training and feedback. The homework assignments are designed to move each team’s legal epidemiology project forward. 

In addition, as described above, each team will be required to share a mutually agreed-upon final project deliverable with ChangeLab Solutions (e.g., final dataset, background memo), as specified in the services contract. The services contract between each participating team and ChangeLab Solutions will include the following terms related to intellectual property rights and publications:

  • Intellectual Property Rights. Service Provider may copyright any intellectual property, including, but not limited to, publications, concepts, creations, developments, programs, products, processes, materials or other works which are made by Service Provider under this Agreement (hereinafter, collectively, "Work Product") that is subject to copyright, provided that such copyright is for charitable and non-commercial purposes, and ChangeLab Solutions and the CDC reserve a royalty-free, nonexclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so. Service Provider hereby grants to ChangeLab Solutions and the CDC a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license to use, reproduce, distribute, sublicense, and create derivative works of the Work Product. 
  • Publications. The Parties may publish any journal articles, presentations, trainings, memoranda or any other derivative works produced in connection with the Work Product or the services provided pursuant to this Agreement (hereinafter, collectively, “Publications”). Each party shall acknowledge the other party and the Funding Agency in the Publications. Service Provider shall incorporate the requirements of this Section in all lower-tier transactions into which Service Provider enters that arise out of, or are related to, this Agreement. 

Questions on Legal Epidemiology Research in Practice

How does legal epidemiology differ from health in all policies?

One way to summarize the difference is that some researchers have used legal epidemiology to study health in all policies (HiAP). Legal epidemiology encompasses a set of processes and methods to examine a law or set of laws and policies and to compare them across multiple jurisdictions. HiAP offers an approach to incorporating health into the development (and application) of laws and policies. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

How do teams decide which jurisdictions to include in a legal epidemiology dataset? 

Legal epidemiology research compares the same type of law or policy across multiple jurisdictions and/or over time. When selecting jurisdictions, it might be helpful to compare jurisdictions that are demographically, geographically, or politically similar or whose populations exhibit similar prelegal intervention health outcomes that could potentially be associated with the law or policy. It might also be helpful to compare jurisdictions that appear to have significant demographic, geographic, or political differences. The learning cohort will include trainings and technical assistance to guide participating teams in selecting jurisdictions to include in their research.

Should teams focus on a law or policy that has already been implemented? 

Legal epidemiology research compares the presence or absence of a specific type of law or policy across jurisdictions (through a process called legal mapping) and/or over time (through a process called policy surveillance). Legal epidemiology research typically focuses on enacted legislation rather than proposed legislation. For example, a team could choose to study a law that has not yet been enacted in their home jurisdiction but has been enacted in other jurisdictions, to learn how other jurisdictions are approaching that issue and how well the laws work. The first several peer learning sessions and technical assistance calls with CDC will focus on helping participants to narrow their research question and identify a specific type of law or policy that is appropriate for legal epidemiology research.

Can teams compare laws and policies within a single state?

Yes, teams can study differences in laws or policies across a set of local jurisdictions within a single state or work on a national dataset, according to their interest. Participants in the learning cohort will receive trainings and technical assistance to help articulate and narrow a research question and select relevant jurisdictions.

In what ways have community partners participated in the projects of past participants? How did past teams identify community partners?

One past cohort participant shared that input from a community partner informed their team’s research topic and question. We encourage all teams to engage community partners in their formation of a research question, and we will understand if, based on such engagements, your research topic changes after you have submitted your interest form.

Past participants have also shared that they primarily leaned on existing partnerships to inform their legal epidemiology projects — e.g., a fellow at a local community-based organization with subject-matter expertise related to the research topic or partners in other agencies with relevant subject-matter expertise. If you don’t have existing partners, identifying possible partners whom you might contact for support will be helpful at the outset of your project. Feel free to list possible partners on your interest form regardless of whether you have contacted them.

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This document was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $210,000 with 100% funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS or the US government.