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Public Health at WashU Annual Conference shines spotlight on university/community collaborations, health equity

Written by Kim Furlow, Public Health at WashU Communications

On October 23 and 24, Washington University in St. Louis invites faculty, staff, students and the greater St. Louis community to the Public Health at WashU Annual Conference 2023. Reflecting the existing strengths in public health at WashU and within the St. Louis Region, the conference, “Focusing on the PUBLIC in Public Health”, will center on vital public health-related research and community collaborations. Themes include academic-community partnerships developed between WashU and St. Louis non-profit organizations; efforts by state, regional and local leaders to address and improve critical public health inequities; and the top-tier interdisciplinary public health scholarship led by faculty, staff and students across eight schools at Washington University in St. Louis.

For the first time in its 16-year history, the October public health conference is a collaborative effort between the Office of the Provost, WashU’s strategic vision—Here and Next, and the Institute for Public Health. The event is the first in a series of public health-related events, news and activities to be shared in 2023-24, in support of the University’s plans to open a new school of public health.    

The field of public health is ripe for disruption and innovation. The last few years have taught us so much about public health—we’ve come to understand the strengths of the field as well as the limitations to traditional approaches in the discipline. To that end, we’re focused—at WashU and in St. Louis—in working to leverage our collective strengths and collaborative opportunities to address unmet public health needs. We seek to do this at speed and at scale. This public health conference presents a forum to showcase our collaborative work and signals a new era in public health that will begin right here in St. Louis.

Beverly Wendland, Provost, Washington University in St. Louis

Monday evening, October 23, at 5 p.m. the conference kicks off at Graham Chapel on WashU’s Danforth Campus. The Johns Hopkins University William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy, Darrell J. Gaskin, PhD, MS, will present a keynote address. Gaskin is director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions and a health economist who “advances community, neighborhood and market-level policies and programs that reduce health disparities.” Following the keynote, audiences can join Gaskin in a panel discussion with St. Louis public health leaders to be moderated by WashU Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives, Mary McKay, PhD, MSW. An hors d’oeuvres reception completes the evening.

Day two of the conference begins at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, October 24, at the Eric P. Newman Education Center (EPNEC) on WashU’s Medical Campus. The Larry J. Shapiro Director of the Institute for Public Health, William G. Powderly, MD, will offer opening remarks and discuss the university’s latest advances in public health, followed by an update on the university’s Here & Next strategic plan from Vice Provost McKay.

Physician, epidemiologist and author, Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, dean and the Robert A. Knox Professor at Boston University School of Public Health, will present a keynote address. Galeo has previously held academic and leadership positions at Columbia University, the University of Michigan, and the New York Academy of Medicine. He has held board appointments with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, the Society for Epidemiologic Research, and the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science.

Conference audience members can participate in a Q&A following two panel discussions:

  • Leveraging Community Collaboration & Research to Achieve Equitable Public Health, moderated by the Steven H. and Susan U. Lipstein Distinguished Professor of Public Health, Ross Brownson, PhD.
  • Public Health as a Cross-Disciplinary & Equitable Endeavor: Essential Needs & Concepts, moderated by Professor of Medicine and co-Director of the Center for Community Health Partnership and Research, Angela L. Brown, MD.

Lunch, a poster session and exhibits from WashU departments and public health community partners round out day two of the conference.

To submit a poster abstract or apply to be an exhibitor, and to register or find the latest conference details, please visit our Public Health at WashU conference webpage.