Experts focus on translational science at global health event

Donna Spiegelman addresses group

December 16, 2015 More than 40 national and international health leaders gathered December 10-11, 2015, at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for a Stakeholder’s Advisory Board (SAB) conference supporting Donna Spiegelman’s National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award. The event was titled, “Comprehensive Translational Science Analytics Tools for the Global Health Agenda Today.” Spiegelman, professor of epidemiologic methods in the departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Nutrition, received the five-year, $2.5-million award in 2014. She is believed to be the first epidemiologist and biostatistician, and the first public health school faculty member to receive the award.

Since receiving the award Spiegelman has focused on developing new methods to advance the field of implementation science, which seeks to establish through rigorous quantitative methods the most effective public health interventions in subject areas such as AIDS, noncommunicable diseases (NCD), and health system design. The SAB, chaired by Rifat Atun, professor of global health systems, was convened to ensure that the work will have the greatest impact, to identify future directions, and to create a network of policy makers, practitioners and methodologists in implementation science, large-scale public health effectiveness evaluations, translational epidemiology, and pragmatic trials.

Jorge Jimenez, former Minister of Health in Chile, at conference
Chile’s former Minister of Health, Jorge Jimenez, was among the speakers

Acting Dean David Hunter, Vincent L. Gregory Professor in Cancer Prevention, welcomed the board December 10 at the opening event in the Leadership Studio on the Kresge Building’s 10th floor. Venkat Narayan, professor and director of Emory University’s Global Diabetes Research Center, was the keynote speaker at a luncheon in the FXB Atrium. Panel and roundtable topics included: “Health System Design,” “Slowing the Growing Epidemic of NCDs,” and “Ending the AIDS Epidemic.” On December 11 board members were invited to meet individually with Spiegelman and her colleagues for further discussion. For the full program, click here.

Funding for the conference was provided by the NIH grant DP1 ES025459. For more on Spiegelman’s work, read this Harvard Public Health magazine winter 2015 interview.

Marge Dwyer

Photos: Craig LaPlante