Heymann to head massive research efort
By Allyson Rowley
Kickstarted by an extraordinary, $2.4-million gift from the University’s Chancellor, H. Arnold Steinberg, McGill has announced a five-year multi-disciplinary research and teaching program with the ambitious goal of helping to fix our public health-care system.
Based at McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy, the Healthier Societies Initiative will map the successes and problem areas in population health across the world’s leading economies – and then rigorously examine and learn from the differences to develop more effective and affordable health care delivery. The initiative will draw on the expertise of top researchers from across McGill including the Faculties of Medicine, Arts, Science, and others. A key aspect of the initiative will be the training of a new generation of leaders with the skills to translate research findings into policy change.
“It’s increasingly clear the medical delivery system is on a serious collision course,” said Steinberg, a McGill alumnus (BComm 1954) who became McGill’s 18th Chancellor in July 2009. “We’re well past the point of being unsustainable.” A lifelong champion of health care causes, Steinberg spearheaded the creation of this initiative. “I’ve been talking about this particular idea for several years now. It’s essential that universities modify their course and training offerings to service the huge demands that health care delivery requires.”
“Health care costs have accelerated in affluent countries, rising far faster than GDP growth, but gains in population health have not kept pace,” added Dr. Jody Heymann, Founding Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy, who will lead the new initiative. “Moreover, as health care expenditures rise, health inequities are likely to grow and the gap in access to medical care will increase.”
Heymann explained that the Healthier Societies Initiative is intended to have an impact well beyond the initial five years, sparking long-term change in technology, training and program development, and developing a road map for real change in health care delivery. An internationally renowned researcher on health and social policy, Heymann has devoted her career to translating research into policies and programs which will improve individual and population health.
“It is with immense gratitude that I acknowledge our Chancellor’s outstanding generosity, his visionary leadership, and his deep commitment to addressing one of the leading issues of our time,” said Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum. “I know one of Mr. Steinberg’s great passions is health care, and I am tremendously proud he has chosen to entrust his vision with our world-class researchers here at McGill.”
Richard I. Levin, Vice-Principal of Health Affairs at McGill and Dean of the University’s Faculty of Medicine, said the new Initiative is exactly what is needed in terms of changing the way we look at the delivery of health services.
“Medicine – and the delivery of health care – are changing more rapidly now than at any time in our history,” he said. “This Initiative represents an enormous step on the road to finding the best way to deliver health services to the population at large, in the context of defining optimal health care, which must be a shared responsibility with academic medicine. I am extremely eager to participate in such an important drive for better knowledge and workable solutions to a problem that confronts all of us.”
Steinberg served for 19 years as Chair of the Board of Governors of the McGill University-Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute, as well as serving for 10 years on McGill’s Board of Governors. He was the Founding Chair of the Board of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and he currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Steinberg received a Doctorate of Laws from McGill in 2000.
Steinberg’s gift will cover the first three years of the initiative. Further funding is being sought to complete the five-year timeline. Two major conferences will be convened over the five-year period, bringing together academics, stakeholders and policy makers from around the world. Each stage of the initiative will involve training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
This gift adds to the successful momentum of Campaign McGill: History in the Making, which has surpassed $574 million through gifts of all sizes from more than 78,000 individual donors around the globe.
“Thanks to leaders such as Arnold Steinberg, Campaign McGill is surging forward,” said Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (Development and Alumni Relations). “Gifts such as these help to leverage other vital donations, which are so essential for the University’s capacity to innovate and to build a better tomorrow.”
For further information on McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy, visit www.mcgill.ca/ihsp.
For further information on Campaign McGill, visit www.mcgill.ca/campaign.