It’s no secret that the UW is a hub for medical and health sciences. UW President Ana Mari Cauce has made a mission to maximize the school’s resources to expand the UW’s influence in this field with the Population Health Initiative. This project will go beyond the scope of medical studies and incorporate community factors into improving the health and well-being of a region.

The field of “population health” may be new to many. This term refers to the “elimination of diseases and injuries,” in addition to the ways in which many factors work together to impact the health of a community. In May 2016, Cauce announced the launch of the Population Health Initiative, aiming to make the UW an international leader in the field.

The initiative centers around developing strategies to achieve a higher level of health on local, national, and international levels. With thriving departments such as global health, the UW is situated to pursue these strategies in large-scale efforts. The initiative defines “human health, environmental resilience and social and economic equity” as its “pillars,” as this project will take a holistic stand on population health. 

The project itself has a 25-year goal, and construction on the Population Health Facility (PHF) is slated to be completed by 2020. This building will house many resources and departments, with collaborative work areas, instructional spaces, open workstations, and potentially community spaces to engage the surrounding area. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the department of global health, and the School of Public Health will all be represented with locations in the building.

Representatives broke ground on the new facility April 25, 2018. The PHF will be located on 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Grant Lane. The total cost of the project is projected to be $230 million. The project is funded by a $210 million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest single donation the school has received. In the Seattle Times, Cauce called the building a “catalyst for this larger vision.”

This larger vision certainly is an important one. The goals of the initiative include evaluating societal factors on health and health care, creating stronger infrastructure in communities, improving healthy starts for children, and facilitating mental health care.

“Big data allows us to diagnose the health of communities, not just individuals,” Cauce said to the Seattle Times. The UW president is confident that the school is situated in the right spot to pursue this work. With strides being made in technology and health care internationally and locally, there is no doubt that many of the goals set by the Population Health Initiative will be achieved inside the new facility.


Reach Special Sections Editor Alyson Podesta at Twitter: @alyson_podesta

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