WUSTL’s new Institute for Public Health to host inaugural symposium Sept. 5

The new Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis will host its inaugural symposium on Sept. 5 at the Eric P. Newman Education Center on the Medical Campus.

The conference symposium will begin at 8:30 a.m. with an overview of the Institute. The overall goal of the event is to raise awareness of public health research and service activities currently conducted at the University.

“There is a significant amount of public health related work already underway at Washington University,” says Edward F. Lawlor, Ph.D., dean of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work and the William E. Gordon Professor.

“Through the interdisciplinary focus of the Institute, we can tackle public health issues in innovative ways. One of our primary goals is to help improve health status right here in St. Louis.”

Lawlor is the founding director of the Institute for Public Health.

Harvey Fineberg, M.D., president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, will present a keynote address on “Quality, Efficiency and Value in Health Care.”

Additional highlights of the conference include panel discussions and poster sessions on community and international public health initiatives at WUSTL as well as a panel focused on opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration in improving public health regionally and internationally.

Lawlor and Graham A. Colditz, M.D., Dr.P.H., the Niess-Gain Professor and associate director of Prevention and Control at the Siteman Cancer Center, will give closing remarks. Colditz is the Institute’s deputy director.

The Institute for Public Health aims to:

• improve community and international health by creating new knowledge;

• produce new forms of public health teaching and research;

• bring medical, social and physical science discoveries to the community; and

• train advanced academic and practice leaders in public health.

The Institute will draw expertise from across the University and will focus on supporting cross-campus collaborations in the field. A faculty advisory council will facilitate interdisciplinary programs and research in the following areas: Genetics and Population Health, Health Disparities in the St. Louis Region, International Diseases and Interventions, Environment and Health, and Health Services and Policy. These initial areas of focus reflect current faculty expertise across the University.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the institute and the breadth of expertise among faculty members at the University is extremely exciting and encouraging,” Colditz says.

“The magnitude of public health challenges calls for approaches that are broader than traditionally undertaken from one or two disciplines. To eliminate health disparities, for example, will require new approaches integrating efforts from many disciplines. The five areas the Institute will focus on were driven by the needs of the community and the ongoing research activities of faculty members across the university.”

WUSTL faculty with research, teaching, and experience working in the field of community health can apply to be Scholars at the Institute for Public Health.

Scholars will participate in Institute programs, lectures, and workgroups focused on addressing community, regional, and international public health issues. Small grants will be available to teams of scholars to seed interdisciplinary programs and projects.

Over time, the Institute will be developing infrastructure to foster collaborative public health research, teaching, and service across the campus.

At press time, more than 100 University faculty have submitted applications for scholar positions.

The Institute’s inaugural event is free and open to the public. For more information about the event or to apply to be an Institute scholar, contact Courtney Beers at 454-7998 or beersc@wustl.edu.