Meit to join ETSU Center for Rural Health Research

Published 11:26 am Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University has named Michael Meit, a nationally respected leader in rural health, as the director of research and programs at the ETSU Center for Rural Health Research.
Meit will step down as co-director of the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at the non-partisan and objective research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, but he will retain his senior fellow role at NORC, creating opportunities to leverage synergies and expand partnerships between the two organizations.
“Michael Meit is one of the nation’s most respected leaders in rural health,” said Dr. Randy Wykoff, founding director of the ETSU Center for Rural Health Research and dean of the College of Public Health. “Through his work with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, the National Rural Health Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and many other organizations, Michael has become one of the most recognized voices advocating for real improvements in rural health in America.”
Prior to his tenure at NORC, Meit served as the founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Rural Health Practice in Bradford, Pennsylvania, held leadership positions at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and worked in the HIV/AIDS Bureau of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In 2019, he received the Outstanding Researcher Award from the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) and has served on the prestigious National Advisory Committee for Rural Health and Human Services.
Meit brings a long history of research in the Appalachian region, having conducted multiple studies for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), including the 2017 report Appalachian Diseases of Despair, and a 2008 study documenting substance use disparities in the Appalachian region, co-authored with ETSU faculty. Meit’s partnership with ETSU extends to several other studies, including ARC issue briefs focused on opioids, obesity, and smoking, as well as studies for the National Association of County and City Health Officials and the Appalachia Funders Network.
“I am so excited to begin my new role at ETSU, working with friends and colleagues with whom we have partnered for over a decade now,” said Meit. “I also look forward to finding synergies between ETSU’s unparalleled commitment to serving the region and NORC’s national prominence. I feel so fortunate to be associated with premier organizations that work to improve health and well-being locally, regionally, and nationally.”
Housed in the ETSU College of Public Health, the Center for Rural Health Research was established by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in 2019 to identify new mechanisms to improve health in rural and nonurban communities. The Center was funded by state appropriations and by a $15 million gift from Ballad Health.
In his new role, Meit will guide the Center’s research and programs as it studies and develops strategies to disrupt intergenerational cycles that contribute to poor health outcomes.
Meit summed up his approach to rural research in his acceptance video for the 2019 NRHA award by saying, “In the end, my favorite part of the research process is working directly with people who are trying to make a difference in their communities. Community stakeholders teach us what works and what doesn’t, how community strengths and resources are leveraged, and how residents and organizations come together to solve problems.”
To learn more about the ETSU Center for Rural Health Research, visit

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