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Yale undergraduate team takes first place in national health policy competition

November 16, 2022

A Yale undergraduate team consisting of Abe Baker-Butler (Ezra Stiles ‘25), Patryk Dabek (Ezra Stiles ‘25), and Allie Dettelbach (Saybrook ‘25) won first place in the 2022 Tulane University Health Policy Case Competition (TUHPCC), a prestigious national public health contest seeking policy solutions to the gun violence epidemic in the United States.

Forty-one undergraduate teams representing 22 universities from across the nation submitted slide decks with their policy proposals. With its entry, Operation Healthy Homefront, the Yale team was designated one of three finalists (along with teams from Brown and Northwestern) and presented live via Zoom before a panel of expert judges on October 29. Yale’s team emerged victorious.

Baker-Butler, Dabek, and Dettelbach will each receive a $1,000 cash prize, as well as a $10,000 scholarship to the Tulane University School of Public Health Masters in Public Health (MPH) Program.

Operation Healthy Homefront is a dual-prong approach consisting of 1) veteran-led mentorship of at-risk youth recruited via hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs), and 2) veteran-led gun safety classes, to reduce firearm homicides.

Dr. Charles Stoecker leads the TUHPCC and is the JP Morgan Chase Chair in Healthcare Finance at the Tulane School of Public Health. Stoecker commented, “While competition was fierce, a set of three judges, with particular expertise in gun violence policy, chose Abe, Allie, and Patryk’s policy proposal for its combination of details on the ground (the team had thought carefully about synergies between veterans and the targeted population) and implied trauma-informed approaches.”

Dr. Howard Forman, who recommended that the students enter the TUHPCC, is a professor of radiology, economics, public health, and management at Yale, as well as director of Yale’s MD/MBA program. Forman commented, “I am extremely proud of Abe, Allie, and Patryk for their win in the TUHPCC. Their proposal was thoughtful, innovative, and well-analyzed. It was tailored for equity and the local political environment and is a much-needed step to help address our nation’s festering gun violence epidemic. I hope that Operation Healthy Homefront will become a reality; that we will learn from it; and then apply what works to related local and regional efforts.”

Baker-Butler, Dabek, and Dettelbach said they were grateful to Dr. Stoecker and the judges of TUHPCC for their recognition and support of the Operation Healthy Homefront proposal. They also thanked Professor Forman for his mentorship, as well as Dr. James Dodington, medical director of the Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Injury and Violence Prevention, for his advice during the process.

While they are pleased with the TUHPCC recognition, Baker-Butler, Dabek, and Dettelbach are not done. They plan to implement Operation Healthy Homefront via a pilot program in New Haven and then scale up from there. The team welcomes input, contacts, and ideas from Yale students, professors, staff, and alumni as it embarks on this next stage of the project.

More information about the competition is available here.

The team’s slide deck, as presented, is accessible here.

Submitted by Colin Poitras on November 17, 2022