The principal mission of the Institute for Health is health, health care, and policy research. The faculty is actively involved in developing future scholars through education and training programs and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students. IFH faculty led an NIMH-funded postdoctoral training program in mental health services research for 35 years that concluded in 2015. The Institute draws on its rich faculty resources in the social and behavioral sciences, public policy, health services research, public health, nursing, social work, medicine, law, business, and pharmacy. The faculty teaches department-based courses in health including a Health and Society program in the Sociology Department that is available as a minor to undergraduates.

The research focuses on important and persistent health care issues that are informed by sophisticated theory and methods. A strong academic foundation is combined with applied policy analyses. The Institute disseminates relevant research information to policymakers, community partners, advocates and consumers and involves these groups in ongoing research. The Institute performs convening functions by bringing together state policymakers and administrators and representatives of the private and nonprofit sectors to discuss shared policy concerns. Together these strategies build a more integrated and effective health research and policy community.