314. The University of Chicago Urban Health Lab, Chicago, IL

Please Note: These internships are co-sponsored with CPIC’s Mindich Summer Service Fellowship. The primary affiliation is with HGHI, so HGHI will be the point of contact during the application and internship onboarding process. The interns selected for these internships will have the obligations and benefits of an intern in both programs.

The University of Chicago Health Lab, one of five labs that comprise the University of Chicago Urban Labs, was launched in 2015 to advance our understanding of how to improve public health outcomes and health systems, particularly for vulnerable populations. We partner with communities, nonprofits, and government agencies to identify, rigorously evaluate, and scale up the most promising policies and programs to improve access to effective, affordable care. This strategy helps ensure that tight city budgets are focused on efficiently and cost-effectively improving the health of not just the fortunate few, but of as many people as possible. Health Lab projects to date include interventions looking at how to improve health care outcomes among the highest utilizers of health care, and interventions that address criminal justice involvement among individuals with mental or behavioral disorders



Summer Projects

1. Supportive Release Center

The Health Lab is currently conducting an evaluation of the Supportive Release Center (SRC), a mental health intervention at Chicago’s Cook County Jail. The SRC is operated by two Chicago-area service providers, Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) and Heartland Health Outreach (HHO), in partnership with the Health Lab and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO). The SRC, an off-site facility located in close proximity to the Jail, provides individuals who have been identified as having mental or behavioral health needs with a place to stay until the next morning, post-discharge. At the SRC, individuals have access to immediate medical care and linkages to services in the community along with a hot meal, shower, and a quiet place to rest. A subset of individuals who are homeless also have the opportunity to receive more intensive case-management services from HHO outreach clinicians. The Health Lab is conducting a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to measure the program impacts of the SRC intervention as well as the additional impacts of HHO’s services. Interns will provide support for this evaluation.

2. Critical Time Intervention Study

The Health Lab will be conducting an evaluation of the Critical Time Intervention (CTI) model which will be incorporated into All Chicago’s Coordinated Entry System (CES) in hopes of benefiting people currently experiencing homelessness and living with serious mental issues (SMI) in Chicago. Through the current CES system, clients experiencing homelessness are assessed, prioritized, and matched with permanent housing. With the addition of CTI, clients experiencing homelessness who also have SMI could be matched with a CTI caseworker who will assist them in accessing and retaining permanent housing, and by extension significantly improve their long-term housing and health. The Health Lab will be conducting a randomized controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of the CTI model in achieving the desired study outcomes.


Interns will be expected to:

  1. Assist with literature reviews, grant proposals, IRB protocols, and other study protocols as needed
  2. Preform statistical analyses, write reports, and create presentations
  3. Assist with data collection, data entry, and quality control
  4. Various other duties as assigned


Soft Skills: Interns should have excellent verbal and written communication skills. Strong interpersonal skills, strong initiative, and a resourceful approach to problem-solving and learning are required. Ability to work independently and as part of a team required. Superb analytic skills and attention to detail are required.

Hard Skills: A background in public policy, social sciences, economics, sociology, or a related field is strongly preferred. Coursework in basic research concepts and methods is required. Basic statistical data analysis skills, with the ability to use Excel, SAS, STATA, SQL, Python, or R is strongly preferred.  Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite required.

Work Environment

Our office is located in the Loop in downtown Chicago. All five of the UChicago Urban Labs - the Crime Lab, Education Lab, Poverty Lab, Energy & Environment Lab, and the Health Lab - are headquartered in our office. We have both undergraduate and graduate-level interns who work with us year-round. At Urban Labs, we encourage an open and collaborative environment, and there are opportunities to work and interact with staff members at all levels, including Principal Investigators, Analysts, Directors, and Research Managers. Interns will have the opportunity to balance their office work with fieldwork duties such as recruiting participants and collecting data for the Supportive Release Center Project at the Cook County Jail and Cook County Bond Court with TASC care-coordinators. Interns who do work in the field will receive additional training and support from research managers to support their development and growth.


On a scale of 0 to 5, the level of internship supervision from very little (0) to a great deal (5) will be about a 3.


Our dates are flexible, with a preference for the beginning of the summer (mid-May through the end of July.)

Additional Requirements

Selected candidates will be required to complete the CITI training and the JHSPH Human Subjects Training Guide before they can be added to the SRC IRB protocol. Additionally, candidates will need to pass all background checks for the Cook County Department of Corrections and complete all Urban Labs HR onboarding tasks.

Quotes from Previous Fellows

"This summer at the Urban Health Lab, I'll be working on the Roadmap Initiative, the Boulevard, and the Supportive Release Center (SRC) projects. The Roadmap Initiative uses data from All Chicago, Cook County Jail, and the Illinois Department of Public Health to identify members of the population who cycle through ERs, the jail, and homeless shelters at high rates. The Boulevard and SRC aim to provide individuals leaving the ER and the jail, respectively, a place to stay short-term and connect with necessary resources immediately upon discharge. I carry out a range of jobs at Urban Labs, including recruiting participants at Cook County Jail, writing policy briefs and pilot proposals, and working with data in the lab. It's been a great opportunity to apply my GHHP coursework and also learn about what research looks like in the field, as opposed to a lab setting!" Gina Cusing, Summer 2019

"This summer, I'm working for the University of Chicago Urban Health Labs as an intern on the Supportive Release Center project. The goal of this project is to test the efficacy of a Supportive Release Center at preventing recidivism for vulnerable populations - particularly for individuals struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse problems, or homelessness. My job is split into field and office work; I recruit inmates in the discharge area of the jail to participate in the study and then engage with the data back in the office. At the Urban Labs this summer, I hope to gain a better understanding of the factors that prevent individuals from escaping cycles of incarceration and homelessness." Ryan Wilson, Summer 2019

“This summer, I'm interning at University of Chicago's Urban Labs on the Homelessness Portfolio. I'm excited to work on a number of projects that rigorously test interventions at the intersection of health and housing. These projects seek to identify and expand services that effectively address the needs of people experiencing homelessness. I'm working with a local organization to conduct a randomized controlled trial of respite care. Other days, I work on research designs, do data entry, meet with partners, write grants, or compile literature reviews. I'm fortunate to work in a dynamic lab that amplifies the effects of service providers who combat seemingly-intractable issues.” Ethan Khan, Summer 2018

“This summer I have been working at the University of Chicago's Urban Labs at their Health Lab. My work has mainly centered around their Supportive Release Center Project, which is testing the effectiveness of a center that provides resources and a place to stay the night for men coming out of Cook County Jail. I do a range of jobs to support the project, from going into Cook County Jail and Bond Court to recruit people for the study to working with the resulting data in the office. In addition I get to see the work others in the lab are doing by doing odd jobs like conducting literature reviews for other projects and by attending some of the many intern events that Urban Labs puts on.” Madeleine Taylor-McGrane, Summer 2018

Click here for instructions on how to apply.