Two years ago, we launched the Population Health Initiative with the goal of bringing our University together with external partners in a more interdisciplinary and collaborative way to speed progress toward improving health and well-being here and around the world. Our vision is grand in scale, but our work proceeds in the knowledge that ultimately, it is the health of communities — and the people in them — that matters.
This work is about the homeless teenager who can get foot care and a hot cup of coffee through the Doorway Project pop-up cafés. And it’s about the pregnant Somali immigrant who meets with a doula who understands her culture, thereby improving her prenatal health care. Each story matters — and together, they reflect the strength of our momentum and our growing capacity to create impact.
Significant early progress has been made toward realizing our vision of creating a world where all people can live healthier and more fulfilling lives. We have completed key foundational work, such as defining what we mean by “population health,” mapping the current landscape of population health work already underway across the UW, and developing vision and mission statements for the initiative.
Three grand challenges were identified to provide initial focus for the Population Health Initiative’s work. Accompanying resources were deployed to support the development of innovative solutions to these grand challenges, including two rounds of population health pilot research grants and funding for new population health faculty hires.
Several internally focused projects were launched to make it easier for University faculty, students and staff to engage in the collaborative work that is needed to make long-term improvements to population health. Exciting new external partnerships in sectors ranging from government to industry are also beginning to emerge, with each potential collaboration offering new opportunities for our University to support on-the-ground implementation of innovations and proven best practices.
The initiative’s work has received extraordinary philanthropic support through a transformative $210 million gift from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the construction of a population health building. The building’s central location on the Seattle campus will facilitate its mission of being a convening space for the faculty, students, staff and partners from a range of disciplines who are improving population health. It opens in 2020.
Above all, our progress has been marked by the eager engagement and involvement of people across our institution and community who seek to add their voices, talents and inspiration
to this shared vision. We welcome and encourage you to reach out with your ideas and enthusiasm, because only through collaboration and cross-pollination can this audacious vision for population health be fully realized.
Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology