Institute for Public Health debuts with symposium

The Institute for Public Health will host its inaugural symposium Friday, Sept. 5, at the Eric P. Newman Education Center on the Medical Campus.

The conference symposium begins 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 under way at Washington University,” said 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,” he said.

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

Harvey Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, will present the keynote address titled “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 of Surgery at the School of Medicine 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 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 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 said.

“The magnitude of public-health challenges calls for approaches that are broader than traditionally undertaken from one or two disciplines,” he said.

“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,” he said.

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 members have submitted applications for Scholar positions.

The Institute’s inaugural event is free and open to the public.

For more information about the symposium or to apply to be an Institute Scholar, contact Courtney Beers at 454-7998 or