From the Dean’s desk: Innovation Matters!
|April 23, 2010|
UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp wants Carolina to be an innovation hub. As leader of a great public university and a scientist known for chemistry inventions, Thorp understands that innovations play a critical role in improving health and society. In this issue of Carolina Public Health, we investigate innovation’s role in our School and its broader implications for public health.
Innovation refers both to some new thing–a product, program or idea thought to be an improvement over what preceded it–and a process of getting the thing into practice. In public health, especially in our School, we aim to solve some of the world’s greatest problems–providing safe water to people who lack it, helping to change unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and poor diets, reducing errors in operating rooms and pharmacies, and developing better ways to conduct clinical trials. Too many interventions are cumbersome, costly or culturally inappropriate. We need practical, practicable and scalable innovations that are transformative.
Some inspiring examples from our School include:
We have funded 18 Gillings Innovation Laboratories to solve big public health problems and accelerate solutions. The range of programs, from development of new laboratory tests to new ways of encouraging use of local foods, is impressive.
Many innovations are worthy of adoption. Yet, we know that the process of adopting public health innovation is painfully slow; people die waiting. Several faculty members, including Alice Ammerman, DrPH, Cathy Melvin, PhD, and Bryan Weiner, PhD, focus on speeding adoption of innovations.
Our faculty, staff, students and partners are creating ideas, programs, tests and tools to improve the public’s health and translate effective programs into practice. Together, we bring life to public health “innovation.” It’s a matter of health!
Note: Rimer also participates in a roundtable discussion about innovation on pages 4-5.
Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit www.sph.unc.edu/cph.