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Our mission is to partner with immigrant communities, advocates, policymakers, and social and health systems on actionable research to improve immigrant health and well-being.

The Leah Zallman Center for Immigrant Health Research is a research center at the Institute for Community Health (ICH). We are a team of interdisciplinary social science researchers with expertise at the intersection of immigrant, economic, and health justice.

We advance immigrant health through:

  • Research – rigorous, actionable inquiry to advance immigrant health and well-being.
  • Networks – engagement with immigrant communities, advocates, policymakers, funders, and social and health systems.
  • Capacity and Learning – space to experiment with anti-racist, anti-assimilationist methods and grow future leaders.
  • Impact – community and public engagement to share knowledge, inform policy, and advance social change.

We are proud to build on ICH’s history of using participatory methods to ensure that community voices in research are amplified to the state and national level as part of evidence-based policymaking, drawing on our core values pictured below.

Our History

In July 2020, the Institute for Community Health (ICH) Board of Directors voted to start a new research center focused on immigrant health, to be led by Dr. Leah Zallman, then-Director of Research at ICH. The idea for the research center was originally conceived by Dr. Sarah Jalbert, ICH Executive Director, and Dr. Zallman as a way to focus Dr. Zallman’s academic research. The Center would house ICH’s immigrant-focused research and work closely with policymakers to advance policies that directly affect immigrant health. A few months later, ICH chose the name “Immigrant Health Research Center,” or IHEAR, to signal that ICH was listening closely to community leaders and “hearing” what was needed. Dr. Zallman spearheaded this work until she died suddenly and tragically in November 2020.

In December 2020, after Dr. Zallman’s death, ICH leadership worked closely with Dr. Zallman’s family and loved ones to form a legacy committee that would carry her original idea for a Center forward and make her dream a reality. In 2021, the committee raised funds to hire a director and the ICH Board voted to create the Leah Zallman Center for Immigrant Health Research. Dr. Jessica Santos was brought on as the inaugural Director in October 2021. The Leah Zallman Center for Immigrant Health Research was publicly launched with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and virtual launch event in February 2022. The Center honors Dr. Zallman by embodying the spirit of her work through our core values, the content of our research, and our commitment to producing evidence to aid policymakers, healthcare systems, and advocates seeking to improve the health and well-being of new Americans and all Americans.