Leighton Ku, Ph.D.,   M.P.H

Leighton Ku, Ph.D., M.P.H

Leighton Ku is a Professor of the Department of Health Policy and Director of the Center for Health Policy Research.

  • Phone: 202-994-4143
  • Email: lku@gwu.edu
  • Office Address:
    950 New Hampshire Avenue
    611 - Floor 6
    Washington, DC 20052

As a health policy researcher, a public policy analyst, and an advocate, Dr. Ku's career has been built around the effort to understand and improve access to affordable health care for vulnerable populations. Among his areas of expertise are Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), immigrant health, state health reform, and health care financing and budgets, with an emphasis on strengthening the health care safety net. "I am interested in applying the lessons of research to policies and programs at the federal and state levels, and working with governmental officials, community groups and advocacy organizations to do it," he says. Professor Ku joined SPHHS as a full-time faculty member in 2008, but he has held adjunct positions at GW's School of Public Policy and Public Administration since the early 1990s. During that time, he also served as a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which focuses on improving policies for low- and moderate-income Americans; as principal researcher at the Urban Institute; and as a policy and budget analyst for the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program.


Bachelor of Arts (Biochemistry), Harvard College, 1975
Master of Science (Nutritional sciences), University of California, Berkeley, 1979
Master of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, 1979
Doctor of Philosophy (Health policy), Boston University, 1990


PPOL 6022: Advanced Research Methods in Public Policy, School of Public Policy and Public Administration
PPOL 6013: Research Methods in Public Policy, School of Public Policy and Public Administration


Professor Ku is the author, or co-author, of more than 200 articles and reports about health policy and public health focused on health care access and insurance coverage for low-income and vulnerable populations.

Community Service

Dr. Ku has testified before Congress and state legislatures and has submitted expert affidavits in federal and state lawsuits involving Medicaid cost-sharing and immigrant rights. He serves on the National Advisory Board of the Center on Social Disparities on Health at the University of California at San Francisco and on the board of the Alliance for Fairness in Reforms to Medicaid. In 2005, he earned an award from the Mississippi Center for Justice for promoting racial and economic justice.


  • Access and Affordability of Health Care and Health
  • Access to Health Care
  • Health Insurance
  • Health Reform
  • Immigrant Health
  • Insurance
  • Medicaid and SCHIP
  • Research Methods and Statistics


Institutes & Centers

Selected Publications