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UH Population Health Collaborative: Driving Discovery to Advance Quality of Life

By Mike Emery

HOUSTON, Nov. 30, 2023 - A new University of Houston Population Health initiative uses a multi-sector approach to evaluate and address the most pressing issues impacting quality of life. The UH Population Health Collaborative uses innovative research and analytics to create accessible training and educational resources to fuel positive community quality of life outcomes.

“A population health approach examines the full range of factors that account for health at individual and population levels. UH Population Health is particularly interested in advancing the understanding of how multiple sectors—social, academic, business, health care, and technology—can connect to impact better community quality of life outcomes,” said UH Chief Population Health Officer Bettina Beech. “The Collaborative is a creative hub to proactively address the challenges of the future by creating a unique opportunity for knowledge co-creation and dissemination.”

Photo of the Albert & Mamie George Building. On the front of the three story brick building is a large red UH banner. Green trees surround the building.

Housed at UH at Sugar Land, an instructional site of the University of Houston, the Collaborative will launch several activities including the Urban Health Index to measure quality of life indicators across the state, such as health, infrastructure, economic development, education, civic engagement and other social factors. Additionally, the Collaborative will implement workshops on population analysis, expand surveys for longitudinal, nonpartisan data on underrepresented groups, as well as create the Population Innovation Lab for students to engage in real-world projects.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to being an independent, dynamic and innovative consortium that generates profoundly impactful and actionable research at the leading edge,” said Jeronimo Cortina, executive director of the UH Population Health Collaborative. “Our primary objective is to enable the adoption of sustainable solutions deeply rooted in community insights and needs.”

Fort Bend County was chosen as the Population Health Collaborative’s home because of the region’s growth, diversity and varied life experiences.

“Our region is a microcosm of the world making local advancements in population health research and education relevant to areas outside of our city and state,” said Jay Neal, associate vice president at UH at Sugar Land. “Our area provides a unique research opportunity to shift how we think about quality of life and its policy implications.”

The Collaborative supports the UH Population Health strategies of transformative learning, inclusive interventions, thriving communities, strengthening connectivity and actionable discoveries, and supports the education of students, staff and community partners, development of strategic relationships with local stakeholders, and exploration of innovative research to contribute a collective understanding of policy informed by quality of life.

“It is time to go beyond traditional economic development indicators and bring about a transformation in our underlying assumptions, beliefs and models concerning societal and economic processes,” said Nomita Bajwa, managing director of the UH Population Health Collaborative. “This new paradigm represents a shift in how we use new technologies and data analytics for the design, implementation and monitoring of policies, that facilitate informed decision-making.”

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