The Geiger Gibson Program in Community Health is the nation’s leading academic program focusing on community health centers and the communities and populations they serve.

The signature activities of the Geiger Gibson Program encompass research and scholarship including both rapid policy analyses on emerging issues in health policy and leading-edge developments affecting health centers and the communities they serve as well as  more complex academic policy research. This robust research program complements comprehensive health policy training for the School’s master’s and doctoral students, focused on health care access, equity and the unique role of health centers; public education and leadership training programs; and special activities including recognition of Emerging Leaders and Distinguished Visitors and the CHroniCles project, which documents the distinctive origins and and living history of the community health center movement.


Key Program Activities

Research and Scholarship

Through the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative, affiliated faculty and staff engage in wide-ranging research focusing on community health centers and medically underserved communities and populations. 

In capturing this enormous range of health policy issues, this research has  frequently taken the form of classic academic scholarship, including in peer-reviewed publication. But the work has also been designed  to meet the need for reliable, useful information in the fast-moving federal and state health policymaking process.

The Collaborative’s seminal analysis of the cost-effectiveness of community health centers served as a basis for Congressional establishment of the Community Health Center Fund as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.   Today the Fund accounts for 70 percent of the annual federal community health center grant budget. The Research Collaborative specializes in rapid analysis of the implications of emerging federal and state policies affecting health centers and the populations and communities they serve and has also published numerous studies evaluating the impact of community health centers on access to health care and health outcomes.

Academic education and training

From their beginning as a small demonstration program, community health centers have grown into a foundational part of the American health care system. Today health centers serve as primary health care anchors in thousands of medically underserved urban and rural communities.

Accordingly, a core part of the program’s health policy education and training is a grounding in federal laws and policies that shape and influence health equity and health care access and how these laws have created and enabled community health centers to serve one in 11 Americans today.  Key areas of study include the programs and laws of the Public Health Service Act, Medicaid, federal health professions programs, and the Affordable Care Act.

Public policy education

In addition to comprehensive academic training and scholarship, the Geiger Gibson Program engages in public policy education in a variety of settings, including seminars, webinars, roundtables, conference presentations, and public engagement with policymakers and the press.


Every community health center is unique.  The CHroniCles project, an interactive, multimedia website dedicated to the living history of the community health center movement, began as a special joint project of the RCHN Community Health Foundation, the Geiger Gibson Program and the National Association of Community Health Centers. CHroniCles has now become part of the Geiger Gibson program itself, honoring the rich history of community health centers by enabling health center organizations to contribute their own stories to a dynamic, on-line, web-based tapestry.

By providing health centers and primary care associations the opportunity to tell their own stories, CHroniCles celebrates – through written and oral histories, historic documents, photographs and other media – the special history of the health center movement and the vital role community health centers fulfill in American health care.

Emerging Leaders

The future of community health centers lies in its future leaders.  Every year, the Geiger Gibson Program, in collaboration with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), recognizes and celebrates community health center and primary care association staff from across the country who demonstrate their leadership for their health centers, patients, and communities.  The Emerging Leaders awards, to young colleagues whose specific work has helped advance not only their own organizations, but the mission of the community health center movement, are presented during NACHC’s annual policy conference.  Emerging Leaders represent the full range of people who make community health centers thrive, whether in central cities or frontier locations: clinicians, health educators, outreach and patient support staff, financial and  information officers, and the primary care association staff who advocate on their behalf and provide vital training and education.

Distinguished Visitors

To provide students with the opportunity to learn from leaders in the field of community health and primary care, the Geiger Gibson Program regularly brings senior leaders from their community health centers and primary care associations to GW as Distinguished Visitors. During these visitorships, students can engage in both classroom and informal interaction with those whose careers have so significantly influenced their communities and the course of the community health centers program more generally.

Geiger Gibson Perspectives

Periodic blogs by Geiger Gibson Program faculty and staff offer readers quick takes on key emerging issues in health laws and policies of high relevance to community health centers and  the communities they serve.