Health Systems Research and Development (HSRD) has been an important part of the East Carolina University Health Sciences Division since its creation in 1978 by William E. Laupus, Dean of the new ECU School of Medicine. Under the direction of Walter Shepherd until 1990, it was extensively engaged with communities throughout the eastern region to conduct community health assessments, develop community health centers, and assist with hospitals in planning and development. HSRD created the Community Health Advocate Program, one of the first lay-health advisor programs. From 1990-2015, it was directed by Chris Mansfield, PhD. Currently, it is a component of the Department of Public Health in the Brody School of Medicine.
HSRD has provided important research, intelligence, outreach, and assistance in development of health services. In addition to surveillance and analysis of health problems, Health Systems Research and Development is engaged with local communities to plan, develop, and improve systems of health services. HSRD has a competent staff and affiliations with faculty in the Department of Public Health and other units of the University.
Health Systems Research and Development maintains numerous databases and serves as a clearinghouse for data on vital statistics, demographics, health resources and other areas of interest to community members, health service administrators, policy analysts, public health faculty and health services researchers. Health Systems Research and Development created and maintains the North Carolina Health Data Explorer which provides access to health data for North Carolina counties in an interactive, user-friendly atlas of maps, tables, and charts.