A new era for population health

The Hans Rosling Center for Population Health ushers the UW into a new era of collaboration and solutions for healthier populations.

What happens when you create a space for expert research from diverse disciplines, infuse it from top to bottom with a spirit of collaboration and possibility, and provide game-changing philanthropic support?

With the opening of the Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, we believe it can change the world.

In 2016, the University of Washington announced the launch of the Population Health Initiative. Working at the intersection of human health, social and economic equity, and environmental resilience, population health is an inherently collaborative field. The initiative harnesses education, resources and funding to encourage cross-disciplinary teamwork among UW faculty at the tops of their fields.

What happens when you create a space for expert research from diverse disciplines, infuse it from top to bottom with a spirit of collaboration and possibility, and provide game-changing philanthropic support?

With the opening of the Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, we believe it can change the world.

In 2016, the University of Washington announced the launch of the Population Health Initiative. Working at the intersection of human health, social and economic equity, and environmental resilience, population health is an inherently collaborative field. The initiative harnesses education, resources and funding to encourage cross-disciplinary teamwork among UW faculty at the tops of their fields.

Today, this work has a physical home. Thanks to a leadership gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and additional support from the people of Washington state, the Rosling Center will house the UW Department of Global Health, the Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation (IHME), parts of the UW School of Public Health and the offices of the Population Health Initiative. With spaces for collaborative group work, active learning, offices and training for global partners and multidisciplinary work in population health across the UW, the Rosling Center will be a hub for addressing critical issues like poverty, equity, health-care access, climate change and government policy.

The Hans Rosling Center for Population Health stands on the land of the Coast Salish peoples — land that touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations.

In 2006, Hans Rosling — a Swedish physician with decades of public health experience — lit an inspirational spark in Bill and Melinda Gates, who shared his vision of improving lives around the world. In films, TED Talks and YouTube videos, Rosling brought health data to life through captivating graphs, illustrations and presentations demonstrating how global health was improving. (Watch some of Hans Rosling’s TED Talks.)

The Gates family proposed naming the building after Rosling in honor of his rigorous analysis of the true state of the world and his passion for improving heath, which spurred a long friendship with the physician and his family.

“Where others saw statistics, Hans saw the chance to tell an incredible human story about our progress against poverty and disease. A data geek through and through, he used numbers to educate, to entertain and to share his special brand of big-hearted, evidence-based optimism,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. “This is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary man.”

Rosling said he was not an optimist, but a possibilist — someone who neither hopes nor fears without reason. And now, at the newly opened Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, the UW ushers in a new era of possibility.

Hans Rosling

Who was Hans Rosling?

After earning his medical degree from Sweden's Uppsala University in 1974, Rosling served as the sole doctor for 300,000 people in northern Mozambique. While in Africa, Rosling discovered a previously unrecognized paralytic disease his research team named konzo and traced to improperly prepared cassava roots. When he returned to Sweden, Rosling taught courses on health systems in resource-poor settings and international health at Uppsala University and the medical university Karolinska Institutet until his death in 2017.

In 2005, Hans, his son Ola Rosling and his daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund founded Gapminder — a nonprofit that harnesses the power of statistics to promote sustainable global development. Hans burst onto the international stage in 2006 with a widely acclaimed TED Talk that has been viewed more than 14 million times, showing innovative animated data visualizations developed by Ola and Anna. Hans followed that success with several more TED Talks, speaking engagements around the world and the bestselling book “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.” Published posthumously, “Factfulness” was co-authored with Ola and Anna. (Read Bill Gates’ review of “Factfulness.”)

Hans Rosling Center and trees

Behind the gift

The Hans Rosling Center for Population Health was made possible by a $210 million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2016 and $15 million in funding from the people of Washington state, as well as funding from the University.

The Gates Foundation’s support has been transformative in nearly every corner of the UW — including global health, health metrics, medicine, computer science, law, education, information access and much more.

Hans Rosling Center plaza

Take a virtual tour

Designed to be a central hub that brings students, faculty and staff experts together, the Rosling Center features an open design — and many elements that foster points of connection and collaboration.

Tour