Population Health

An overview of the Population Health Initiative

Vision: The Population Health Initiative creates a world where all people can live healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Mission: The Population Health Initiative addresses the most persistent and emerging challenges in human health, environmental resilience and social and economic equity. Through partnerships with local, national and global communities, we develop, implement and disseminate transformative knowledge through our research, service and teaching.

On May 3, 2016, President Ana Mari Cauce launched the groundbreaking Population Health Initiative by inviting the University community and partners to come together in a more interdisciplinary and collaborative manner to improve the health of people here and around the world.

She noted that the health of an individual or a community involves more than just the absence of disease. Issues from poverty and equity, to health care access, to climate change and governance all combine to affect the health and well-being of populations around the world. To truly and productively address today’s population health challenges requires collaboration with diverse fields and practices in groundbreaking ways.

The UW’s vision for improving population health is broad, involving contributions from all of the university’s schools and colleges in partnership with external collaborators. The role of the Population Health Initiative is to incubate and advance the key programs, projects and partnerships needed to accelerate the speed at which impact and progress can be realized.

The Population Health Initiative’s focus is currently on four major bodies of work:

  1. Faculty-focused programs – The initiative has directed resources towards addressing three grand challenges in population health through the funding of pilot research grants and faculty hires. Other faculty-focused programs include hosting networking/matchmaking sessions, creating a resource directory to support team development and other activities intended to promote interdisciplinary collaboration.
  2. Student-focused programs – A major push of the initiative is to raise student awareness of the range of intersecting and overlapping factors that influence health, which occurs through several undergraduate courses. More targeted training occurs through fellowship programs focused on applied research and social entrepreneurship. The initiative also offers several award programs for undergraduate and graduate students.
  3. Partnership development – The initiative acts as a front porch for outside partners and collaborators who seek to engage the UW in working to improve population health. Once contacted, we support potential partners to explore and engage the full breadth of population health-related expertise at the university
  4. Population health building – The UW is in the process of constructing a new building dedicated to population health that will serve as a gathering place where faculty, students, staff and collaborators can come together in their work. The building is scheduled to open in summer 2020

To learn more, please explore this website or read our Report to the Community, which summarizes the initiative’s first two years of work.