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Leadership from UT and CHS announced a new partnership to address health issues in the region and advance the development of health education and research.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Cherokee Health Systems have entered into a new partnership to address health issues in the region and advance the development of health education and research to improve the well-being of communities in Tennessee and beyond.

UT and CHS will collaborate on research activities, participate in seminars and training, enhance education programs, and support student, faculty and staff involvement in teaching, research, and service activities that make life and lives better.

“UT’s partnership with Cherokee Health Systems will provide real-world training experiences for students to work with rural populations and the underserved, and help prepare the workforce that our state needs,” said UT Chancellor Donde Plowman. “As a modern land-grant university, it is our mission to identify needs in our community and then devote our talent, expertise, and resources to meeting those needs.”

The announcement and signing of a memorandum of understanding were hosted by UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and included a presentation by CHS Director of Research and Health Equity Eboni Winford, with remarks provided by Plowman, CHS Chief Executive Officer Parinda Khatri, UT Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick, UT Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement Tyvi Small, and Associate Dean of Research Hollie Raynor from UT’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

During the event’s opening comments, Khatri gave an overview of CHS and the synergy of the partnership with UT for collective community impact.

“Cherokee Health Systems is an integrated health delivery system that started in 1960, and it has grown to serve the community and increase the quality of life for patients through the blending of primary care and behavioral health,” said Khatri. “We have worked with UT students for more than 35 years and look forward to building on this foundation of collaboration through our shared vision of academic-community partnership that will be a national exemplar for education, research and service.”

Winford’s presentation focused on transformational research, integrated care, and workforce development. She outlined a vision to use data strategically to identify disparities and improve clinical outcomes by partnering with UT to uncover root causes and form interventions.

According to Zomchick, the partnership will enhance the university’s ability to provide high-impact experiential learning opportunities for students by collaborating with CHS to help communities in East Tennessee.

“Through the partnership, our faculty will have more opportunities to design hands-on learning experiences for our students. While learning by doing, our students will also be able to bring needed services to the citizens of East Tennessee. With this new partnership with Cherokee Health Systems, we extend our ability to connect with Tennesseans in a meaningful and impactful way.”


Chris Schmitz (865-974-8304,