Philanthropy & Innovation

Ellie Starr

Spring 2013 ]

Prevention and early diagnosis are among the best ways to reduce costs and ease human suffering.

A great example of how philanthropy enables this is a grant from Goldman Sachs to support our involvement in their efforts to combat the rapid increase of breast cancer among Chinese women. Breast cancer diagnoses have soared in China over the past decade; 2011 saw a nearly 60 percent increase from nine years earlier. Knowing HSPH will be joining in efforts to reverse this trend is exactly the sort of thing that makes our work so meaningful.

Another strategy for reducing costs is to be sure the health systems we’re paying for actually work. Thanks to support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the School’s Peter Berman will be leading an initiative in Ethiopia to help the health care delivery system adapt to changing economic and demographic conditions, especially in rural areas.

Of course, a first step to ensure that we’re getting the biggest bang for the buck is to understand the true costs of options so we can compare them. A great example is the study of alternative energy sources, to be conducted by our Center for Health and the Global Environment and funded by Wells Fargo over the next five years. The study will look not only at the most obvious financial costs but also at hidden expenses, such as environmental damage and harm to health.

Finally, as every student of public health knows, we need to consider the impact of vaccines, drugs and other interventions across entire populations before we can determine whether they are cost effective and beneficial. To this end, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company will be funding an HSPH fellowship in pharmacoepidemiology, a fast-growing field that takes clinical drug evaluation to the population level.

While these four projects may seem very different, I hope you appreciate, as I do, the common thread running through them. Each identifies cost-effective public health solutions provided by philanthropy. And each moves us closer to a world where quality health care is available to all.

Warm regards and many thanks,

Ellie Starr,
Vice Dean for External Relations

Millennium gift will redefine ranks of pharmacoepidemiologists
Tallying the true costs of controversial energy sources
Goldman Sachs supports efforts to reduce and prevent breast cancer in China


Photo: Kent Dayton / HSPH