Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announces new National Center for Rural Health Research coming to ETSU


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Tennessee Governor Bill Lee stopped at ETSU Tuesday to announce the creation of a National Center for Rural Health Research.

“I’m excited about this region in particular being able to be a leader in this country,” Governor Bill Lee said.

The center will be located at the College of Public Health at ETSU.

“This center will I believe be the national leader in research,” Governor Lee said. “There are a lot of unique challenges to rural [communities] but I also think that we have, in Tennessee, an opportunity to show the country how to do it.”

Governor Lee added that the legislature has funded in their budget this year a $1.5 million dollar gift with a $750,000 subsequent gift in years to follow.

He said, “I grew up in the rural community. I understand that the economies of rural communities are critical to the success of the entire state.”

Ballad Health has taken great interest in the research facility as well, according to Lee.

Levine also spoke at Tuesday’s announcement. “What you’re going to see from the result from the creation of the center for rural health and research is the testing of new ideas and new innovation that are community based,” Ballad Health CEO Alan Levine said.

“We’re announcing today that Ballad Health is making what I believe is the largest single contribution in the history of East Tennessee State University,” Levine said. “Over the next 10 years, we will provide a $15 million dollar match to what the state of Tennessee has put on the table,” Levine said.

Dr. Brian Noland also announced that the current Dean of the College of Public Health, Randy Wykoff, will be the founding director of the new center.

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