Enhancing Health Forum to showcase University Strategic Plan progress

Matthew G. Solovey
October 24, 2018

HERSHEY, Pa. — Penn State College of Medicine will host a public forum, "Enhancing Health," from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Lecture Room A. This forum will showcase key initiatives tied to Penn State’s Strategic Plan and its Enhancing Health theme, which focuses on the University’s role in promoting health of Pennsylvania communities and advancing medical knowledge. The forum will feature remarks by Nicholas Jones, executive vice president and provost, and Neil Sharkey, vice president for research, and a panel discussion on health research and the importance of community health partners and collaborators. 

Panelists will include Craig Hillemeier, dean, Penn State College of Medicine, chief executive officer, Penn State Health, and senior vice president for health affairs, Penn State; Leslie Parent, vice dean for research and graduate studies, Penn State College of Medicine; Keith Hillkirk, chancellor, Penn State Berks; Douglas Cavener, dean, Eberly College of Science; and Lorah Dorn, a member of the Enhancing Health committee.

The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists.

Participants may register for the forum here: https://pennstatehershey.tfaforms.net/368. Community partners are welcome to attend.

“As we continue to implement the University’s strategic plan, Penn State has several new and ongoing initiatives that promote quality of life by enhancing health for individuals and communities,” Jones said. “Through a commitment to and investment in relevant research, education, clinical practice and outreach, we are addressing key health-related issues, working across our colleges and campuses and with community leaders to discover and implement solutions.”

Strategic plan seed grant recipients of novel projects related to the Enhancing Health theme will also give updates. Featured recipients will be Jennifer Kraschnewski, Susan McHale and Jeffrey Peters. 

Kraschnewski, associate professor of public health sciences, pediatrics and medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, will give an update on her pilot project, Lion Pulse, a program to communicate wellness information across Penn State. The project will study the effectiveness of creating a network of health champions across the University, and provide technical assistance to implement evidence-based wellness policies and practices within departments. 

McHale, distinguished professor of human development and family studies, University Park, will give an update on her pilot project, Consortium for Integrated Data Systems Solutions. This project looks to improve access to the large amounts of health data collected through state agencies that often remain within those agencies instead of being integrated with similar data throughout the government. 

Peters, deputy director, Penn State Cancer Institute, will give an update on a project he is working on with Andrew Patterson, associate professor of molecular toxicology. This project is developing a postdoctoral scholars program for Penn State Cancer Institute members at University Park, Hershey and other University campuses. The program is designed to be interdisciplinary and cross-cutting by bringing together laboratories from different disciplines and that share the common goal toward better understanding and treating cancer. 

Penn State’s strategic plan is a five-year plan, ending in 2020, and was created after a two-year process that involved 48 academic and administrative units across the University. The plan highlights five thematic priorities: Transforming EducationEnhancing HealthStewarding Our Planet’s ResourcesAdvancing the Arts and Humanities and Driving Digital Innovation. The Enhancing Health theme has five aims: Advance discovery in personalized and population health; create innovative academic programs in personalized and population health, build synergistic partnerships to influence population health; facilitate wellness within the Penn State community; and inform governmental health policy. The centerpiece of this vision is recognition of the multiple factors that contribute to overall health including individual biology and behaviors, the contexts in which people live and work, the quality of their health care and public health policies and programs.

“The relationship between Penn State and our communities is an important connection to further develop as a natural extension of our missions in research, education, discovery and outreach,” Parent said. “We want to be partners to enhance health throughout the Commonwealth. The important work happening at Penn State College of Medicine and across the University relies on the support and involvement of our communities.”

Penn State also has made addressing the opioid epidemic a priority in meeting its strategic plan goals. The Penn State Addiction Symposium is held yearly at the College of Medicine and is sponsored by the newly formed Penn State Addiction Center for Translation. Earlier this year, the University assembled more than 200 participants for the first-ever Penn State Summit on the Opioid Epidemic to take inventory of the efforts across the University and promote collaboration across departments and units. Recently, the College of Medicine launched Project Echo, a program to use telehealth to deliver specialist care and advice on opioid addiction treatment to family and community medical practitioners across Pennsylvania.

The University is also addressing barriers to health access in the state, especially in rural communities. It is a member of the Appalachian Translational Research Network, which is a partnership of universities committed to addressing the health challenges in Appalachia. Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute recently was awarded a grant to fund a pilot program to better understand the unique social and economic issues facing rural communities, how these issues affect health, and address a decline in American life expectancy. 

“Having spent my career as a biomedical scientist, Enhancing Health, one of Penn State’s major strategic imperatives, is particularly satisfying,” Sharkey said. “It’s wonderful watching the renewed emphasis and growth in health sciences at Penn State, along with the heightened spirit of collaboration and cooperation across the College of Medicine, University Park colleges and Commonwealth Campuses. And indeed, these multidisciplinary multi-unit collaborations are reflected in many new projects, funded internally through our strategic plan’s mechanisms but more importantly through external awards from federal agencies and foundations. I look forward to even more synergistic efforts as we continue to gather momentum. Enhancing the health of Pennsylvanians is a critically important component of Penn State’s land-grant mission.”

Last Updated November 01, 2018