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FIU launches Population Health Initiative to help improve health on a global scale

FIU launches Population Health Initiative to help improve health on a global scale

September 21, 2023 at 10:43am


FIU researchers plan to tackle some of the world’s biggest health threats –  including epidemics, climate change, food quality and housing –  through its Population Health Initiative, which will bring together researchers from different disciplines to identify solutions that lead to improved health.  
“Health has been one of the research pillars for FIU, with significant basic, applied and experimental research in health areas,” said FIU President Kenneth A. Jessell. “This initiative is part of our ongoing commitment as a top-tier research institution actively working to improve local and global health while creating new opportunities for our students and faculty to excel and contribute to the broader challenges of population health in South Florida.”
The idea behind the FIU Population Health Initiative (PHI) is to coordinate the research of FIU scholars as part of a program focused on improving the health of Floridians, with connections to national and global efforts. It will support and foster research and education to advance population health through team science that will address social determinants of health and promote healthy living, longevity, and quality of life. The FIU PHI’s focus is on research that will lead to policy and program development for communities. FIU will leverage a $20 million endowment from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities to support the PHI.
Collaborations across the university and with other institutions are at the core of the FIU PHI.  FIU is collaborating with the University of Washington Population Health Initiative, which launched in 2016. The FIU PHI and the UW Population Health Initiative are exploring opportunities for partnership in population health-related research and training.
“Health impacts at the population level are complex, with many contributing factors such as economics, the environment, and access to preventive health care,” said FIU Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development Andrés G. Gil. “FIU has a large cadre of researchers and research teams from different disciplines who will work together to find long-range solutions that can be implemented by local, regional, global, and private stakeholders.”
The FIU PHI also will provide pilot funding to incentivize cross-disciplinary research at FIU in the critical areas of climate variability and environmental and community resilience, infectious and chronic diseases, health over time, and health economics. A current initiative involves supporting Rajiv Chowdhury, chair and professor of global health at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, in the expansion of his work on climate change and mental health in Colombia and South Florida.
FIU also plans to convene national and international experts as part of the FIU PHI to help develop state-of-the art investigations, plans, policy recommendations and pilot initiatives centered around population health. There also will be mentorship opportunities for faculty and students with the direct support of FIU’s National Academy of Science members.
“This initiative is indicative of FIU’s goal of addressing the challenges of our time and our approach of collaborative research and team science approaches,” said Provost, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth M. Bejar, who also serves as chair of the executive council for the FIU PHI.
FIU will conduct a national search for a director of faculty development and strategy implementation.