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User Success Stories

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Kelly Thompson, Esq.

Health Policy Expert
"LawAtlas is valuable because it provides an access point for laws that should have been there a long time ago."

In our work, we build datasets from scratch to understand the legal landscape for issues related to our field, state by state.

Policy surveillance is important because it creates more transparency between lawmakers and the people who are actually impacted by the laws they pass. It’s important at a legislative level to understand what jurisdictions are doing, and outcomes, before making decisions in your own jurisdiction.


Laura Thomas, MPH, MPP

Deputy State Director, California, of the Drug Policy Alliance
"Being able to show California legislators where California stands in relation to other states can be a useful motivator because it puts our policy proposals in context."

I’m an advocate who primarily works at the state level, and one of the things that state legislators are always interested in — good and bad — is how they compare to others states. Being able to show California legislators where California stands in relation to other states can be a useful motivator because it puts our policy proposals in context.


Alessandra Ross, MPH

Injection Drug Use Specialist
"Policy surveillance illuminates the hidden undergirding of our society’s attitudes toward drugs, harm reduction and law enforcement. These laws and policies are often quite hidden from the people who are doing the day-to-day work."

Bryce Pardo, PhD

Associate Director, Drug Policy Research Center; Policy Researcher
"It was good to have legal scholars and legally-minded people who presented the information as data so I could work with it to run regressions to understand the law’s impact. Not having to compile the data myself freed up my ability to develop measurements and do the analysis, and reduced coding errors I may have introduced because of my lack of legal knowledge."

Benjamin Mason Meier, JD, LLM, PhD

Professor of global health policy in the Dept. of Public Policy and the Dept. of Health Policy and Mgmt. at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill
"It’s long been a dream of global health law researchers to look across nations to see how governments are approaching the same public health problems. LawAtlas can help realize the unfulfilled dream of WHO’s International Digest, informing decisions about public health laws by providing a forum to compare legal practices internationally — something that doesn’t really exist at the global level."

Darrell Klein, JD

Deputy Director of Public Health Nebraska DHHS at State of Nebraska
"Fundamentally, policy surveillance ensures that our efforts to promote and protect the public’s health is effective. We live in an age of increasing collection of and access to data. Incorporating laws into the data analysis should help guide decisions on allocation of increasingly scarce resources to enable the best outcomes."

My office, at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, participated in an RWJF-funded project to assess


Manel Kappagoda, JD, MPH

Program Director and Senior Staff Attorney ChangeLab Solutions Oakland, CA
"When our dataset changes in the future it will be relatively easy to update it — it’s easier than in normal legal research to see where those changes are."

I was an RWJF Public Health Law Research program grantee.


Emalie Huriaux, MPH

Integration, Hepatitis C, and Drug User Health Program Manager for the Washington State Department of Health
"We have only two people on our staff who do policy work; we would never have time to do this kind of a review when we provide technical assistance."

My organization does community education and some policy work in California and nationwide on issues related to HIV/A


Rachel Hulkower, JD, MSPH

Public Health Analyst at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
"Law really is a social determinant of health. Policy surveillance gives us an opportunity to track legislation so we might begin to learn how a law is impacting a community’s health – positively or negatively."

We used LawAtlas to collect and catalog Medicaid prior-authorization polices related to prescriptions for children with ADHD for CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. We were interested in comparing the legal landscape with Medicaid reimbursement rates to see if prior-authorization policies could potentially impact prescriber behavior based on academic recommendations.


Micah Berman, JD

Associate professor of public health and law at The Ohio State University's College of Public Health and Michael E. Moritz College of Law
"LawAtlas gave us a very logical, easy way to collect and organize that information, and it provided the framework for teaching more lessons about systematic data collection and laws for research." Our local department of public health was applying for accreditation, and they reached out to me for help cataloging their public health laws. Part of the health department’s responsibility under the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) is not only to find out what is going on in their jurisdiction, but also how they can improve. They came to me saying, “We have to do this, but we don’t know how.”

Maya Doe-Simkins, MPH

Public health educator, researcher and consultant
Associate Professor of Public Health and Law at the Ohio State University.
"It’s helpful to have these resources to point out where ideas exist elsewhere, or not; or to show a critical mass to assure a policymaker that they’re not stepping into uncharted territory."

In our work at Prescribe to Prevent, we provide a lot of technical assistance to small agencies, underground initiatives and state-level government agencies working on overdose initiatives. LawAtlas is a resource I always check whenever I’m trying to answer questions.


Nabarun Dasgupta, MPH, PhD

Epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill
“It allowed us to ask more interesting questions and allowed us to more systematically collect that information.”

I was an RWJF Public Health Law Research program grantee. We were trying to understand the nuisances of prescription drug monitoring programs, and there are a lot of differences between states and changes over time. Policy surveillance was useful in cataloging that information, which we then combined with outcome data and used in analysis of how effective PDMPs have been.