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New population health building named in honor of renowned data scientist Hans Rosling

If you’ve walked or driven down 15th Avenue along the west side of our Seattle campus recently, you couldn’t help but notice the rapidly-progressing construction of the new population health building. I had a chance to put on a hard hat and tour the construction site this summer and saw how this innovative space will help promote collaboration to advance population health.

Today, the Board of Regents voted to name this new building the Hans Rosling Center for Population Health. I am delighted that we have this opportunity to honor Dr. Rosling, a Swedish physician and pioneer in the use of data to address the world’s biggest health challenges.

Before his death in 2017, Dr. Rosling became world-renowned for his ability to communicate big-picture trends in health and economics through his innovative use of data visualizations. (I highly recommend checking out his TED Talk on data and global health.) He exemplified the optimistic, innovative and collaborative approach we need in order to improve the health and well-being of entire communities. In naming the new building for him, we are honoring the incredible impact he had on population health research and I’m moved and grateful that his family has allowed us to celebrate his legacy in this way.

The idea to honor Dr. Rosling originated with Bill and Melinda Gates, whose support, along with public investment by the Washington legislature, made this building possible. They were inspired by his work, because in Melinda’s words, “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.”

When it opens next year, the Hans Rosling Center for Population Health will be home to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the Department of Global Health, units of the School of Public Health, and the UW’s Population Health Initiative. It will be a convening space for faculty, students and partners from different disciplines to come together as they develop innovative solutions to the health challenges we face here in Washington and around the world. I hope that Dr. Rosling’s famous optimism will serve as a lasting inspiration to the students, researchers, scholars and innovators who gather in this space to advance our work to improve the health and well-being of all people.