Cluster Hiring Initiative

Started in 1998, UW–Madison’s Cluster Hiring Initiative, an innovative partnership between the university, state, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation fosters collaborative research, education, and outreach. The initiative creates new areas of study that cross the boundaries of existing academic departments, and since its launch 20 years ago, nearly 50 interdisciplinary clusters have received support.

In February 2018, the Cluster Hiring Initiative funded six new proposals that will facilitate interdisciplinary strategic hiring, and two of these clusters have ties with CDE. First, the Initiative in Social Genomics, coordinated by Jason Fletcher (sociology; public affairs; population health sciences) and including Corinne Engelman (population health sciences), aims to expand emerging expertise in genomics by integrating genetic and social and health science questions from different disciplines, including health economics, genetic epidemiology, psychology, and statistical genetics. Advances in genomics, like the declining cost of sequencing the genome, are transforming the world, and allow clinicians, researchers, and the broader public to ask new questions and approach old questions in new ways.

Second, the Reproductive Equity Cluster, coordinated by Deborah Ehrenthal (obstetrics & gynecology) and including Jenny Higgins (gender and women’s studies; obstetrics & gynecology) and Tim Smeeding (public affairs), will help build the cross-disciplinary research expertise necessary to examine the drivers and consequences of inequities in reproductive health and to identify potential solutions. The cluster also aims to add greater diversity to the voices engaged in discussions about health disparities and inequities.

CDE’s affiliates look forward to welcoming new colleagues to campus with research in these areas. To learn more about the Cluster Hiring Initiative, visit