Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Institute for Public Health and Medicine

Center for Primary Care Innovation

The mission of the Center for Primary Care Innovation is to improve the health of our communities by developing novel methods to transform primary care clinical practice, education, and research.

Why Primary Care Matters

Primary care medicine focuses on the care of the whole person and serves essential roles that support the health and well being of individuals and populations.  Considerable research evidence demonstrates that health systems with strong primary care deliver higher quality healthcare, achieve better health outcomes, promote greater equity throughout the population, and improve healthcare value.

The scope of primary care practice includes: prevention, acute care, chronic illness care, and the coordination of care across different providers and care settings. Not only can well-functioning primary care improve the way health care systems meet people’s medical needs, it also can enhance patients’ experiences when specialty and hospital-based care are needed.

Ultimately, the goal of the Center for Primary Care Innovation is deliver healthcare in ways that are better than in the past. To accomplish this objective we need a talented and prepared work force, research that answers important questions about how to make care better, and the successful implementation of this knowledge within healthcare systems.

Academic Units for Primary Care Training and Enhancement Grant

Our National Collaborative for Education to Address the Social Determinants of Health is funded through a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Academic Units for Primary Care Training and Enhancement (AU-PCTE). Learn about the program and the research projects we are leading through this grant.

Center Goals


The Center aims to attract talented Northwestern trainees to primary care, provide experiences that nurture their interest, and equip them with the skills they will need to function in the innovative healthcare delivery models of the future. Offering mentorship and career development programs, opportunities for clinical experiences (particularly in rural, underserved or international locations), and opportunities for trainees to conduct research and scholarship related to primary care are all ways to engage and encourage medical students and residents interested in primary care careers.


Faculty associated with the Center work on diverse topics related to the conduct of primary care. Much of this work involves testing innovative ways to improve care delivery to individuals and populations. Research themes include the use of health information technology, health communication, redesigning systems of care, reducing healthcare disparities, improving medication management, changing clinician behavior and others. Clinical areas of active work include clinical preventive services, cancer screening, cardiovascular disease prevention, hypertension, diabetes, and acute respiratory infections.

Clinical Innovation

Northwestern Medicine offers a fertile laboratory for conducting the types of research described above.  Conversely, the Center serves as an important resource for Northwestern Memorial Health Care (NMHC). Faculty conducting research related to primary care work directly with NMHC leadership to promote the adoption of innovative best practices within this large healthcare system. In addition, as new payment models are introduced into healthcare over time, researchers in the Center are well situated to support rigorous evaluations of NMHC clinical programs and innovative strategies to improve care.

The CPCI Faculty Research Catalyzer

The Center for Primary Care Innovation (CPCI) awarded two Primary Care Faculty Research Catalyzer grants for the first round of 2017. The purpose of this peer reviewed grant is to provide research support to Northwestern faculty or residents and fellows with a designated faculty mentor who are a) collecting preliminary data to support a future grant submission and/or b) supplemental support for ongoing sponsored-research. Preference is given to projects that include research activities for medical students, residents and fellows.

NU Assistant Professor, Theresa Rowe, DO will focus her research on assessing the incidence and identifying risk factors for the overprescribing of medications and screening procedures to older adults by primary care providers. Dr. Rowe will complete her project under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Persell and will assist in the development of a tool for physicians that can be incorporated into the electronic health record.

Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Emily Lattie’s research involves the treatment of depression and anxiety through mobile and web-based technology. This technology offers the opportunity to fill a needs-gap in alternatives to pharmacologic treatments for mental health. The goal of her work is to develop a technology-enabled service for mental health based at Northwestern Medicine Physician Partners. She will conduct this work under the mentorship of Dr. David Mohr.

The Primary Care Faculty Research Catalyzer is funded by Feinberg School of Medicine’s GHI Fund, which was founded by and is generously supported by Northwestern Medicine Primary & Specialty Care and its patients. Each award has a maximum budget of $25,000.

Center Information

750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 10th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611

Center Director:
Stephen D Persell, MD/MPH

Stephen D Persell, MD/MPH

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Founded: 2014