For millions of people across the U.S., health and well-being depend on policy decisions made at the federal level. UNM's Dr. Barbara Damron, associate professor with the College of Nursing and full scientific member with the UNM Cancer Center, will bring her expertise in caring for underserved minority community members through research, cancer education, screening and referral services to Capitol Hill as a 2012-13 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Institute of Medicine Health Policy Fellow.

Damron, who will gain frontline experience in engaging health policy to improve health and health care, was chosen through a competitive selection process and will join seven other exceptional health professionals for a one-year fellowship in the nation's capital. A three-month orientation program is followed by a nine-month assignment in which fellows work in either a congressional office or the executive branch. This experience is enhanced by leadership development activities and media training provided throughout the year.

"The real world health and health care leadership experiences of our fellows provide a critical perspective to major health policy decisions, and will be invaluable as the country strives to address significant health care challenges," says Marie Michnich, DrPH, director and alumna of the RWJF Health Policy Fellows program. "While working with key players on Capitol Hill, our fellows gain an insider's view of the political process, leadership skills, and a professional network that lasts a lifetime."

"This will be a great experience for UNM's Health Sciences Center and for me," Damron asserts. "I look forward to sharing our understanding of health disparities from our work in New Mexico. But equally important, I'm excited to bring home the latest news and strategies in national health policy to keep UNM's Health Sciences Center at the fore."

The Health Policy Fellows is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Visit for more information. For more information on UNM's College of Nursing, please visit For more information on the UNM Cancer Center, visit