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  Shaping the world's policies
RSPH earns a 4.0
Building a public health network
New faculty
Expanding impact on global health
Growing regard for healthy places

Shaping the world's policies

Kenneth Thorpe says "We are going to look at the real basics of how to make health care affordable".Rollins faculty member Kenneth Thorpe is leading a new university-wide initiative to find solutions to the world's most pressing problems. The Institute for Advanced Policy Studies will feature small teams of scholars who will study issues and devise innovative solutions, says Thorpe, Woodruff Professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management.
     The institute will involve researchers from across Emory as well as visiting scholars from other universities, think tanks, and the private sector to work on complex policy issues. Researchers will be selected from a multitude of specialties and disciplines and organized into teams.
     Thorpe is assembling a team to address health care reform, the institute's first issue, consisting of physicians, economists, and faculty from the schools of public health, business, and law in addition to several fellows from outside of Emory.
     "We are going to look at the real basics of how to make health care affordable—how do we lower the cost but improve the quality of care?" says Thorpe. "To date, the proposed solutions for addressing the issue seem ill-equipped to drive major changes in the health care industry." Since 2000, for instance, the cost of health insurance has increased by nearly 60%—about three times that of the growth rate for wages.
     Thorpe already has established a partnership with the London School of Economics to put together solutions to modernize health care for chronically ill patients. Other study topics may include globalization and immigration policy. The institute will address two to four issues at a time, and topics will rotate every two to five years. Teams will seek to effect change by publishing their findings and presenting them at a major conference sponsored by the institute and involving high-level policy-makers.
     Learn more about Thorpe and his work.
—Kay Torrance


RSPH earns a 4.0

The Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) continues
to rise among the nation's top schools of public health. According to U.S. News & World Report's 2008 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools," the RSPH ranks 7th among its peer institutions. The school placed 9th the last time it was ranked in the 2004 graduate school edition.
     In the current rankings, the RSPH earned a mean score of 4.0, compared with 3.1 in 2004. Schools are ranked on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). Scores are based on peer opinions gathered from deans and others at 38 accredited schools of public health; quality of the educational experience; and graduates' achievements related to their degrees.
     "Our continued ranking as one of the top schools of public health in the nation reflects the dedication and excellence of our faculty and of our highly qualified and diverse student body," says Dean James Curran.

Nation's top schools of public health


Building a public health network

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded Emory a five-year grant of nearly $20 million to build an international community of "CDCs." Emory is working in partnership with Finland's National Public Health Institute,Finland KTL, on the project, led by two professors in the Rollins School of Public Health.
     Emory and KTL will support the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI), a global alliance dedicated to improving the health of populations by strengthening national public health institutes (NPHIs) in other countries.
     Jeffrey Koplan, Emory vice president for academic health affairs and former CDC director, is IANPHI president. James Hughes, former director of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases, is IANPHI senior adviser for infectious diseases. Both hold faculty appointments in medicine and public health.
     The cornerstone of IANPHI is a peer-assistance model for strengthening and enhancing NPHIs, with an emphasis on low-resource countries without a national public health focus or with institutes in early-stage development. Expertise and support from IANPHI will help fledgling organizations build basic public health infrastructure and progress toward becoming fully functioning NPHIs.
     IANPHI was formally launched in 2006 with 39 members and a one-year planning grant from the Gates Foundation. With the five-year implementation grant, members will continue to expand the association and work toward creating a global network of national institutes to address critical public health challenges.


New faculty

Two new faculty members have joined the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) in recent months.
     Winifred Wilkins Thompson is a research assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences
and Health Education. She comes to the RSPH from the Arnold School of Public Health at the UniversityWinfred Wilkins Thompson and John Carew
of South Carolina, where she completed her doctorate in health promotion, education, and behavior.
     Through her research in the RSPH, Thompson seeks to improve health for African American women. She focuses on the social determinants of health in conjunction with the psychosocial and spiritual factors that contribute to a woman's health and wellness as they relate to cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and maternal-child health. She is a co-investigator with the Avon Foundation Community Education and Outreach Initiative, which trains volunteers to help raise breast cancer awareness, increase rates for mammography screening, and enhance prevention and treatment for women at Grady Health System.
     John Carew serves as assistant professor of biostatistics in the RSPH and assistant professor of radiology in the School of Medicine. He received his doctorate in statistics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
     Carew has a long-term interest in translating statistical and imaging methods for clinical applications. His expertise includes diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), statistical methods for MRI, nonparametric function estimation, and applications of MRI to neurologic disease, particularly Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).
     Prior to joining Emory, Carew was an NIH trainee in biostatistics and medical informatics at the University of Wisconsin.

Expanding impact on global health

The Rollins School of Public Health is one of several university partners involved in the Global Health Institute (GHI), an Emory initiative to address the most pressing health challenges in the world.
     Established this year, the institute builds on Emory's existing strengths in global health in order to create and strengthen partnerships with governments and academic and private institutions in the neediest parts of the world. It also enhances successful global health partnerships with neighboring institutions such as the CDC, CARE, the Task Force for Child Survival and Development, and The Carter Center.
     "Emory's schools of medicine, public health, and nursing already have created many successful global health partnerships," says GHI's director, Jeffrey Koplan, Emory vice president for academic health affairs. "Now we have a tremendous opportunity, as well as an obligation, to involve the entire university in building collaborations that will benefit other nations as well as our own."

Public health in Mexico
The RSPH has received two of GHI's inaugural grants for projects in Mexico and Africa. Reynaldo Martorell, Woodruff Professor and chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health, is leading a program to expand the partnershipCollaborative study in Mexico to determine effects of Omega 3 given during pregnancy between Emory and the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica (INSP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico. A delegation from INSP, led by newly appointed director Mario Henry Rodriguez, visited the RSPH and Emory in March. The visit led to formal renewal of the partnership, plans for summer courses and student exchanges, and preparations for a small grant program.
     One of the largest Emory-INSP projects is Usha Ramakrishnan's study of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy, funded by NIH and the March of Dimes Foundation. Research has shown that omega-3 is beneficial to brain and neurodevelopment in infants. However, most of these studies have used fish oil-based supplements and included no follow-up of infants into early childhood. The trial in Mexico is one of the first being conducted in a developing country setting and is using an algal-based supplement that contains only docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
     Pregnant women at a public hospital in Cuernavaca daily receive either 400 mg of DHA or a placebo from mid-pregnancy (18 to 22 weeks' gestation) until delivery. Researchers will follow the women and their children up until each child is 18 months old.
     "We are assessing the neurodevelopment of the infant at various time points," says Ramakrishnan, associate professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health. "Our ultimate goal is to see if these children perform better in terms of functionality."
     Researchers will measure differences in the babies' neuroconductivity at 1, 3, and 6 months of age. At 12 and 18 months, children will be assessed using the Bayley development test, which measures domains of development and attention.
     So far, 1,000 pregnant women have been recruited for the study, and 800 infants have been born to mothers in the study. All of the babies will have been born by summer.
     In addition to studying the infants, Ramakrishnan and Ann DiGirolamo, assistant professor of global health, are looking at rates of postpartum depression in mothers in the study at various time points.
     "There's evidence that if the mother is depressed, she may stimulate the child less, and that could affect development," says DiGirolamo. "Because these moms are being supplemented with DHA, we can also look at whether DHA has an effect on postpartum depression in women."

Scenarios from Africa
In Africa, Kate Winskell, assistant professor of global health, is working with young people and community-based organizations to create short, engaging films about HIV/AIDS. The "Scenarios from Africa" program began in 1997 when Winskell asked local organizations in Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso to mobilize youth to write stories about HIV/AIDS. The winning ideas were made into films by African directors and donated to broadcasters in theBenjamin Mbakwem is the first Scenarios team leader to lecture and study at RSPH three countries. Organizations also dubbed them into local languages for HIV/AIDS workshops and community activities. Today, more than 100,000 young people in 37 African countries have taken part in the Scenarios contest.
     "Sometimes people focus in on the audio-visual component, but that can be misleading," says Winskell. "The program is so much more about strengthening the capacity of local communities to respond to HIV/AIDS"
     Toward that end, Winskell is bringing three Scenarios team members to Emory to lecture and collaborate on research. The first, Benjamin Mbakwem, arrived in March from Nigeria, where he founded the Community and Youth Development Initiative to provide male youths with business management skills and HIV prevention information as they prepare to apprentice in different trades.
     HIV/AIDS, Winskell says, "is a constantly evolving epidemic with constantly evolving communication needs."
—Kay Torrance
Growing regard for healthy places

The Health Places Research Group involves those concerned about the health of communities in and around Atlanta.Just as Atlanta's population is growing, so is interest in the Healthy Places Research Group (HPRG), a collaborative effort involving the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH), the Georgia Institute of Technology, the CDC, and others.
     This spring, the group drew close to 80 people to the RSPH to hear from faculty and staff involved in a new study at Atlantic Station in midtown Atlanta. The study will examine how living in the mixed-used neighborhood influences travel, physical activity, and nutrition behaviors.
     Karen Mumford, a faculty member in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, is leading the study. She also spearheads Emory's involvement with HPRG.
     "We have 30 to 40 faculty and staff from Emory who participate and many others representing local health departments, the CDC, Georgia Tech, local citizen groups, and planning, architecture, and business firms," Mumford says. "HPRG provides opportunities for students and faculty to learn about new and exciting research on the health of our communities. It attracts people who are concerned about how land use, transportation, and building construction affect public health. It provides great opportunities for networking with people from many different backgrounds."
     To learn more about the Atlantic Station study,
see the story "A Better Way of Living".


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