Improving the health of all populations — from lung cancer survivors in the Chicago area to trauma victims in Bolivia and LGBTQ+ groups in Nepal — was at the heart of Feinberg’s inaugural IPHAM Population Health Forum, where scientists and community partners presented their work in a wide diversity of areas.
The forum, held December 4 and attended by faculty, staff, students and community partners, was hosted by the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), Feinberg’s home for public health activities.
The event’s keynote speech was delivered by Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at Boston University School of Public Health, who discussed the opioid, gun and obesity epidemics and the vital role of population health research in curbing them.
“These are the epidemics of our time,” Galea said. “And there are particular population health science approaches that we must take if we want to deal with these epidemics. If we do not do that, we are complicit in the advancement of these epidemics.”
In particular, Galea discussed four key principles of population health science and how they can provide insights into the epidemics. He also cautioned against seeking simple solutions.
“We come from a place where we elevate the notion of simple interventions. Unfortunately, we are dealing with complex causes for complex epidemics,” he said. “We need to have the confidence to say these are complex population systems — and our science and our recommendations should approach them as such.”