USC Price School of Public Policy

Roybal Center

Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation Moving to USC

The interdisciplinary Center uses data-based tools and predictive models to forecast disease, health expenditures and demographic trends among elderly populations. It will be under the direction of SPPD Professor Dana Goldman.

Dana Goldman

The Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation, an interdisciplinary research group studying the health and medical spending of America’s aging population, will be based at the University of Southern California, according to an announcement from USC Executive Vice President and Provost C.L. Max Nikias.

The Center, which was previously based at the RAND Corporation, will now serve as a focal point for collaboration between the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, the School of Pharmacy, and the Viterbi School of Engineering. It will be housed at USC’s Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.

“The University of Southern California is committed to encouraging health care research that has a direct impact on national discussions about health care policy,” Nikias said. “The Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation creates another unique opportunity for interdisciplinary research to take place on this critical and timely topic.”

The Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation uses data-based tools and predictive models to forecast disease, health expenditures and demographic trends among elderly populations. The five-year grant will fund additional research to measure the effects of treating Alzheimer’s and dementia, and the fiscal consequences of health reform.

The Center is one of just 13 Roybal Centers nationwide funded by the National Institute on Aging that focus on research questions posed by an aging society.

The Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation got its start under the direction of researcher Dana Goldman, a widely respected expert in health economics who was formerly with the RAND Corporation. Goldman joined USC in 2009 as a professor and director of USC’s Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.

Goldman said the USC Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation will maintain a collaborative relationship with RAND since a number of the project’s senior researchers remain there.

“I am looking forward to maintaining existing ties while building on the vast research potential here at USC,” Goldman said. “The Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation will encourage even more opportunities for interdisciplinary research between departments and schools at USC that focus on aging, health and economics. This will allow us to address some of the most vexing social issues related to an aging society.”

Also at USC, Shinyi Wu, an Assistant Professor with the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, will remain Associate Director of the Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation.

“The connection between health and engineering may come as a surprise to some, but engineering methods such as simulation techniques, system modeling, and technology assessment are the basis of the kinds of analytic efforts that are being used by the Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation to provide predictive statistics on health care spending and treatment effects,” said Wu.

The Center’s move to USC highlights the University of Southern California’s commitment towards encouraging health care research methods that contribute to evidence-based national discussions over health care policy.

Over the past year, the university hired prominent faculty members in evidence-based health care research, such as Goldman, who is the Norman Topping Chair in Medicine and Public Policy in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development. Goldman is also a professor with the School of Pharmacy.

USC also supported the creation of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, which is a collaboration of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the USC School of Pharmacy.

The Schaeffer Center is ideally suited to house the Roybal Center because both Centers use evidence-based health care research as a way of promoting health policy solutions, and their purposes are closely aligned. The Schaeffer Center conducts research and policy analysis to support evidence-based health care reform on issues such as understanding how public policy affects medical innovations.

“Health policy is one of the most important issues of our time as we confront the challenges and opportunities of caring for increasing numbers of elderly patients,” said Jack H. Knott, Dean of the School of Policy, Planning, and Development. “The work being done by our researchers through the Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation is critical to ensuring we are prepared to meet the fiscal and medical needs of an aging population.”

The other USC researchers who are part of the Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation are Darius Lakdawalla, who is based out of the School of Policy, Planning, and Development, and Geoffrey Joyce of the School of Pharmacy.

“The Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation will be right at home at USC where evidence-based health care research is a critical component of many of our already-established research projects,” said School of Pharmacy Dean R. Pete Vanderveen. “For example, the work of our pharmacoeconomics faculty at the School of Pharmacy in outcomes assessment and comparative effectiveness research is a natural complement to the Center’s focus.”

The National Institute of Aging Division of Behavioral and Social Research provides funding to the 13 Roybal Centers, formally known as the Edward R. Roybal Centers for Translation Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences of Aging. At USC, The Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation will build on its previous work with a $1.73 million grant from the National Institute of Aging that provides five additional years of funding.

The Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation will continue working on modeling analysis that identifies the costs and benefits of treating and preventing health problems among elderly populations. Some of these projects have included calculating rising Medicare expenditures for the oldest Medicare beneficiaries, the consequences of obesity for older Americans, and nursing home quality of care.