Tim Lai is a graduate student at the Auburn University Harrison College of Pharmacy’s Department of Health Outcomes Research and Policy, and the first recipient of the newly created fellowship for graduate students by the college and the Innovation and Value Initiative (IVI).

Tim, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you start by sharing your academic background and what interested you in working with IVI?

Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity to share my experiences with IVI. I’m a Ph.D. student from Auburn University Harrison College of Pharmacy’s Department of Health Outcomes Research and Policy, which provides rigorous training in areas including pharmacoeconomics, pharmacoepidemiology, and health policy evaluation. My research interests primarily focus on health equity and patient-centered outcome evaluation. Based on my work in health disparity research, I recognize that health technology assessment (HTA) plays a significant role in healthcare systems and considering equity in HTA framework remains a challenge.

IVI’s health equity fellowship immediately caught my attention because their mission perfectly aligns with my research interests. This fellowship provides me with invaluable opportunities to collaborate with experts in the field, network with members, contribute to cutting-edge research, and make a meaningful impact on healthcare decision-making.

What type of projects are you currently supporting?

I primarily support projects under the umbrella of IVI’s Health Equity Initiative. Currently, I’m working with IVI’s research team to conduct literature reviews and other searches measuring and modeling equity impacts on healthcare interventions in HTA. As a participant in IVI’s weekly team meetings, I stay updated on current policy changes and other initiatives being worked on by team members.

What experience have you gained through IVI, and how has it impacted your view health equity?

Since participating in IVI’s research projects, I’ve had the privilege to closely interact with IVI’s internal staff and external research partners, in addition to attending events such as IVI’s 4th Annual Methods Summit, ISPOR 2023 Annual Conference, and IVI’s 2023 Annual Meeting, to take place in the fall. Through these exchanges, I’ve gained insights that have significantly impacted my view of health equity. With each activity, be it collaborating with internal teams or engaging in discussions with external partners, my approach to a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding health equity has grown exponentially. My eyes are open to the multiple barriers that certain populations face in accessing quality healthcare and the necessity for innovative solutions to address health disparities. These experiences have served to deepen my commitment to advocating for equitable healthcare access and outcomes. Additionally, participating in IVI’s research projects has granted me invaluable opportunities to co-author academic posters that were presented at ISPOR 2023. It is our expectation to further develop our work into a complete manuscript, allowing us to share our findings with more scholars and make a greater impact.

Why is it important for students and researchers to be aware of IVI’s work?

Speaking from a student’s perspective and as a novice researcher, I believe it is important to be aware of IVI’s work, particularly those in the early stages of receiving research training or exploring complex topics such as health equity. IVI offers a plethora of resources and perspectives that are instrumental for education and professional growth.

As a graduate student, listening to voices from stakeholders with diverse backgrounds and different perspectives is crucial since we can avoid unintentional biases in research by considering different facets of a given research topic. IVI provides a variety of platforms for these distinct voices to be heard. Exposure to these perspectives may also help us quickly identify current research gaps and challenges, which is beneficial to many students.

IVI is also committed to transparency. Being aware of IVI’s work, students and researchers¬† have the opportunity to access a wealth of resources, including research publications, webinars, and collaborations. These resources give us exposure to cutting-edge research, innovative methodologies, and opportunities to engage in different research initiatives from IVI.

Thank you for your insight, Tim. We are honored to have you as part of the IVI team!

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts.


Become an IVI Academic Affiliate
IVI is a research organization with engagement options at the personal and institutional levels. IVI members have inside access via monthly newsletters, original content and research insights, as well as an exclusive invitation to IVI’s Annual Scientific Meeting. IVI is pleased to offer a complementary individual membership to current students and faculty for the remainder of 2023. Click HERE to join IVI as an Academic Affiliate today!

About IVI
The Innovation and Value Initiative (IVI) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, research organization dedicated to advancing the science and improving the practice of health technology assessment through development of novel methods and the creation and application of enhanced health technology assessment models to support local decision-making needs in healthcare.

Contact: Smita Sanwardeker
Phone: 267.909.7661
E-Mail: smita.sanwardeker@thevalueinitiative.org