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Dr. Valerie Hardcastle Named
Local Health Care Hero Finalist

Dr. Valerie Hardcastle

March 22, 2021 —  Northern Kentucky University's Dr. Valerie Hardcastle has been named as a finalist for the Cincinnati Business Courier's Health Care Heroes awards. Dr. Hardcastle is recognized for her community work and commitment to improving the quality of health care throughout the region.

Dr. Hardcastle serves as the executive director of the Institute for Health Innovation and vice president for Health Innovation at NKU. She has played an integral role in its COVID-19 response and preparedness. Her work continues to help the region navigate its current environment, from helping launch NKU’s COVID-19 dashboard that monitors local case counts to collecting data on beliefs about COVID-19 risk, attitudes towards vaccination, and how individuals receive medical information, in underserved communities in northern Kentucky.

“I’m incredibly honored to receive this recognition alongside the region’s brightest health care heroes and organizations,” said Dr. Hardcastle. “NKU has a rich tradition of community engagement, and I’m thankful the university empowers our team and the health care ecosystem to find solutions for health needs and to create greater access to resources.”

An advocate for improving population health, Dr. Hardcastle's impact extends beyond the campus community. Dr. Hardcastle and her team have leveraged regional partnerships and implemented solutions that tackle urgent health challenges. Under Dr. Hardcastle's leadership, the IHI has received approximately $6.2 million in federal grant funding to combat the opioid crisis in rural communities. They have implemented numerous initiatives in the past year, such as support programs for families impacted by substance misuse as well as helping reduce overdoses for those who come in contact with law enforcement.

“NKU has a rich tradition of community engagement, and I’m thankful the university empowers our team and the health care ecosystem to find solutions for health needs and to create greater access to resources."

The IHI also launched SoCap Accelerate, a regional accelerator that mentors health-related companies to grow and scale their businesses, and helped establish NKU’s Collaborative for Economic Engagement, a one-stop innovation hub for businesses and entrepreneurs in Covington, KY.

Dr. Hardcastle is an internationally recognized scholar and is the author of five books and over 210 essays. Her research has focused primarily on developing an interdisciplinary framework for understanding mental health phenomena responsive to neuroscientific, psychiatric and psychological data. Dr. Hardcastle received a bachelor’s degree with a double major in philosophy and political science from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Houston and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in cognitive science and philosophy from the University of California, San Diego.

To learn more about NKU’s commitment to the cause of public health and its latest initiatives, visit the Institute for Health Innovation’s website.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit