$2.4-million gift from McGill Chancellor kick-starts crucial Healthier Societies Initiative


H. Arnold Steinberg launches interdisciplinary research to create new road map for health care delivery

McGill University’s Chancellor, H. Arnold Steinberg, CM, has made an extraordinary gift of $2.4 million to kick-start a major new interdisciplinary research and teaching program aimed at creating a new road map for the future of health care delivery.

Based at McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy, the Healthier Societies Initiative is a five-year, cross-faculty effort that will map what works and what doesn’t in the health systems across the world’s leading economies and then rigorously examine those systems in order to develop more effective – and affordable – health-care delivery.

This wide-ranging initiative will draw on the expertise of top researchers from across McGill, including the Faculties of Medicine, Arts, Science, and others. A key aspect will be teaching a new generation of leaders the skills needed to translate research findings into public policy change. Two major conferences will be convened over the five-year period, bringing together academics, stakeholders and policy makers from around the world. Each stage of the initiative will involve training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

“It’s increasingly clear the medical delivery system is on a serious collision course,” said Mr. Steinberg, a McGill alumnus (BComm ’54), who became McGill’s 18th Chancellor in July 2009. “We’re well past the point of being unsustainable.” A lifelong champion of health-care causes, Steinberg spearheaded this initiative. “I’ve been talking about this particular idea for several years now. It’s essential that universities modify their course and training offerings to service the huge demands that health-care delivery requires.”

It is the combination of research and teaching that sets the McGill Initiative apart from other worthy efforts to tackle the seemingly insolvable problem of spiraling health-care costs that eat up ever greater chunks of government budgets.

“Health-care costs have accelerated in affluent countries, rising far faster than GDP growth, but gains in population health have not kept pace,” added Dr. Jody Heymann, Founding Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy, who will lead the new Initiative. “Moreover, as health-care expenditures rise, health inequities are likely to grow and the gap in access to medical care will increase.”

Heymann explained that the Healthier Societies Initiative is intended to have an impact well beyond the initial five years – sparking long-term change in technology, training and program development, and developing a road map for real change in health-care delivery. An internationally renowned researcher on health and social policy, who has testified before the U.S. Senate, Heymann has devoted her career to translating research into policies and programs that will improve individual and population health.

McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum said she is deeply grateful for Steinberg’s “outstanding generosity, his visionary leadership, and his deep commitment to addressing one of the critical issues of our time.

“I know one of Mr. Steinberg’s great passions is health care, and I am tremendously proud he has chosen to entrust his vision with our world-class researchers here at McGill.”

Richard I. Levin, Vice-Principal of Health Affairs at McGill and Dean of the University’s Faculty of Medicine, said the new Initiative is exactly what is needed in terms of changing the way we look at the delivery of health services.

“Medicine – and the delivery of health care – are changing more rapidly now than at any time in our history,” he said. “This Initiative represents an enormous step on the road to finding the best way to deliver health services to the population at large, in the context of defining optimal health care, which must be a shared responsibility with academic medicine. I am extremely eager to participate in such an important drive for better knowledge and workable solutions to a problem that confronts all of us.”

For further information on McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy, visit www.mcgill.ca/ihsp.

For further information on Campaign McGill, visit www.mcgill.ca/campaign.

H. Arnold Steinberg served for 19 years as Chair of the Board of Governors of the McGill University-Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute, as well as serving for 10 years on McGill’s Board of Governors. He was the Founding Chair of the Board of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and he currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Steinberg received a Doctorate of Laws from McGill in 2000.

Chancellor Steinberg’s gift will cover the first three years of the Healthier Societies Initiative. Further funding is being sought to complete the five-year timeline. This gift adds to the successful momentum of Campaign McGill: History in the Making, which has surpassed $574 million through gifts of all sizes from more than 78,000 individual donors around the globe. “Thanks to leaders such as Arnold Steinberg, Campaign McGill is surging forward,” said Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (Development and Alumni Relations). “Gifts such as these help to leverage other vital donations, which are so essential for the University’s capacity to innovate and to build a better tomorrow.”

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Douglas Sweet
Media Relations, McGill
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