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Research

At Milken Institute SPH, research plays a key role in supporting the school’s mission to advance the world’s health. Our faculty are passionate about finding solutions to today’s most critical public health problems and training the next generation of public health researchers. Over the last year, the school’s total research spending reached almost $95 million, a five percent increase from last year. Milken Institute SPH faculty engaged in and led studies along a broad spectrum of public health issues, including the fight against obesity, asthma cases related to traffic-related pollution, the potential dangers resulting from herbi- cide exposure, the role of nurses in addressing unmet health care needs, and so much more. The newly created Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics also highlights the school’s commitment to the quan- titative sciences and the GW-wide focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Ensuring a World-Class PhD Education

World-class PhD programs are fast becoming even more of an integral part of academic life at Milken Institute SPH. PhD education is not only critical for producing the next generation of researchers and research leaders; it is also vital to support the school’s research enterprise.
Consistent with the school’s strategic plan as well as GW-wide efforts to advance the university’s research progress, Milken Institute SPH will focus on PhD program growth in the coming years by enhancing research opportunities, training programs, academic offerings and program reputation.

Milken Institute SPH will also launch new PhD programs in key areas of public health, including nutrition and global health, in addition to its current programs in epidemiology, prevention and community health, health policy and management, and a new program in environmental and occupational health. Faculty and staff will enhance the processes around the PhD degrees in the areas of recruitment, financing, and student support. The school will emphasize greater collaboration across all PhD programs, as well as standardization of policies and requirements, curricular innovation, supportive research experiences, greater faculty exposure, and special training in key skills such as communications and ethics. “PhD programs and students are essential for our growth at Milken Institute SPH and critical for the vision of a research- intensive GW,” says Adnan A. Hyder, MD, MPH, PhD, senior associate dean for research and professor of global health.

Senior Associate Dean for Research Speaks Up on Safety

Since joining Milken Institute SPH in 2018, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Global Health Professor Adnan Hyder, MD, MPH, has been leading by example to further global public health research and advocacy in the areas of road safety and children’s health.

Road Safety Summit Keynote Speech

Hyder was the keynote speaker at the Safe Travel and Tourism Summit, held on Capitol Hill in May. The summit was hosted by the Association for Safe International Road Travel, a nonprofit dedicated to improving road safety worldwide, and aimed to increase attention on the need to improve road safety worldwide.

“Measurement is not enough; implementation is key for road safety,” Hyder said in his presentation. “I stood at the UN 20 years ago and said more than one million people die from road injuries, and today I stand in the U.S. Capitol and repeat that.

This is a serious wake-up call for the global community.” Hyder has written about the public health implications of road safety and leads the school’s research on the topic. Milken Institute SPH recently became a full member of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration.

Lancet Commentary on Road Safety

More than one million people die from traffic accidents every year on the world’s roadways, and many of these deaths are preventable, Hyder wrote in a commentary published by The Lancet Public Health in December 2018. He says that governments, public health groups and other sectors must act to make roadways safer in all countries, including those that are popular with tourists and students. “While we see bright spots where road injuries have been reduced, the widespread change needed to prevent these deaths across the world has not happened so far,” Hyder writes.

He goes on to say that the new 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety from the World Health Organization serves as a valuable tool for monitoring the risks, outcomes and progress related to road safety, but such measurements alone do not bring down the death toll.

In his commentary, Hyder outlines five steps to greater road safety, calling on governments, health organizations and industries to prioritize and support road safety measures in countries around the world. “Safe roads are of critical importance for people around the world,” Hyder writes. “Accepting our lack of progress is the first step to developing a strong and sustainable set of actions for changing the status quo on global road safety.”
To read Hyder’s full commentary, visit thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/home.

C. Everett Koop Medal of Distinction

For his work to prevent childhood injuries, Hyder received the C. Everett Koop Medal of Distinction from the global organization Safe Kids Worldwide in July. The award, named after Safe Kids Worldwide founding chairman and former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, is the organization’s highest honor and recognizes a professional who embodies Koop’s legacy of working to protect all families and children. For over 20 years, Hyder has worked to improve global health, road safety and children’s health in low- and middle-income countries around the world. He has co-authored over 300 scientific papers and numerous reports on road safety, children’s health and ethics.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from Safe Kids Worldwide, who are pioneers in the global effort to protect children from preventable injuries around the world,” Hyder said at the Safe Kids Worldwide International Childhood Injury Prevention Convention, where he was presented with the award. “We’ve made great progress as a community to make roadways and homes safer for all, including children, but we must continue to push forward and enact worldwide change to prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths.”

Milken Institute SPH Establishes Center on Commercial Determinants of Health

Not all disease is rooted in biological or hereditary factors. Some of it stems from things people consume every day—alcohol, tobacco, foods high in sugar, salt and trans fat. The strategies that industries use to market and sell these products are often referred to as the “commercial determinants of health” (CDH), and many in the public health field see this kind of activity as a growing threat.

To help address the global health burden around these commercial drivers of disease, faculty of the Department of Global Health at Milken Institute SPH recently initiated a Center on Commercial Determinants of Health. It is one of the first research centers in a school of public health to focus on issues of health and safety in relation to private-sector determinants in public health.

“Addressing the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases and injuries stemming from corporate products and practices requires refocus of traditional programs, research and practice,” says Nino Paichadze, MD, MPH, associate director of the center and an assistant research professor at Milken Institute SPH. “The development of the Center on Commercial Determinants of Health, which brings transdisciplinary perspectives, scientific rigor and evidence- informed approaches to studying CDH, is critically important for responding to this global public health challenge.”

The center, which has been initiated and is directed by Senior Associate Dean for Research and Global Health Professor Adnan A. Hyder, MD, MPH, PhD,
will help shift public health attention toward prevention strategies that work to address CDH. The center will conduct multidisciplinary, rigorous research to increase global understanding of CDH and its effects. Through advocacy, the center will also promote greater awareness around CDH to influence the creation of sound policies and regulations. “We hope to enhance and strengthen the scholarship and evidence around commercial determinants of health here in the U.S. and globally,” Hyder says.

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