The following items on a spectrum of topics have come across my desk recently, and you may want to check them out. I have listed them, along with the links, under the relevant subject headings.

Health Care for the Elderly

The MacArthur Research Network on an Aging Society “is an interdisciplinary group of scholars who are conducting a broad-based analysis of how to help the [United States] prepare for the challenges and opportunities posed by an aging society,” according to an April 2010 brochure released by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Network members include the chair, John Rowe of the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Dana P. Goldman of RAND; and John Rother of AARP. Please note that health is just one of the network’s interests.

Health Professions

Redesigning Continuing Education in the Health Professions was released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in December 2009; the report was funded by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation (see the list of the foundation’s funding priorities foundation’s funding priorities on its Web site). Gail L. Warden, now a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health chaired the IOM panel that prepared this report. According to an executive summary of the report, “the absence of a comprehensive and well-integrated system of continuing education (CE) in the health professions is an important contributing factor to knowledge and performance deficiencies at the individual and system levels” in the United States.

Have you always wanted to apply for one of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) programs that award funding to individuals, but didn’t know if you were eligible? The RWJF’s Scholars, Fellows & Leadership Programs Web site was launched in March 2010. This “information clearinghouse” includes profiles of RWJF scholars, fellows, and leaders; application deadlines for sixteen of the foundation’s programs, such as the Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research; alerts about events; and a place to ask questions about the programs.

Related resource:

“Improving the Long-Term Care Workforce Serving Older Adults,” Robyn Stone (American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging) and Mary F. Harahan (independent consultant), Health Affairs, January 2010.

Health Reform

“Summary of New Health Reform Law,” Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 8 April 2010. This “reflects provisions” of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and “changes made by subsequent legislation,” the foundation says. As the Center for Public Policy Priorities (Austin, Texas) said, this is “an excellent 13-page table” on the legislation. Because it is well-organized and succinct, I have found it a useful reference.

 “What Just Happened? Still Processing,” Minna Jung of the RWJF, The Users’ Guide to the Health Reform Galaxy blog, 8 April 2010. You may relate to Jung’s musings here as she started looking through the lengthy new health reform law. This RWJF blog also has a weekly feature called “Health Reformer’s Lexicon,” which examines “key words, terms and phrases in health reform and explores their meaning and orbit.”

Related resource:

“CMS and Health Reform: A Health Affairs Blog Roundtable,” Chris Fleming (the journal’s social media manager), 13 April 2010. This post on the Health Affairs Blog is about a roundtable discussion among former heads of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or the Health Care Financing Administration, as it was formerly known). Fleming and John Iglehart, founding editor of the journal, moderated the discussion.


The Syringe Access Fund, a collaborative funding partnership of the Irene Diamond Fund, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, and National AIDS Fund awarded forty-six grants, according to a February 2010 e-alert. “Created in 2004 to support direct services and public policy activities to reduce the risk of HIV and other blood-borne diseases often transmitted through injection drug use,” the fund is the “largest nonprofit funder of syringe exchange programs” in the United States. Read more here about the fund’s sixth round of grants.

Related resource:

“Fighting HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C.,” Alan E. Greenberg of the George Washington University et al., Health Affairs, November/December 2009. Shannon L. Hader, senior deputy director, HIV/AIDS Administration, Department of Health, Washington, D.C., is among the coauthors.

Philanthropy News

“Can Failure Be the Key to Foundation Effectiveness?” Bob Hughes of the RWJF, on the Center for Effective Philanthropy Blog, 11 January 2010. Among those foundations “sharing what they have learned about things that didn’t work” are the RWJF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Hughes gives some reasons why foundations’ honesty about failed programs can be beneficial. This post generated some buzz—online comments and Tweets. I (as well as others, I would guess) would like to know what grantees think of this openness, especially if they have had unsuccessful projects.

Merck’s recent merger with Schering-Plough means that the two health care companies’ charitable activities have also merged. Because of this, the Merck Company Foundation has expanded its New Jersey Neighbor of Choice program, which helps groups in New Jersey communities where Merck facilities are located. Based in the Garden State, the foundation is a national and international funder; however, it does “not accept or respond to unsolicited proposals.” Read more here about the Neighbor of Choice grants.

Philanthropy Journal announced that it has become a program of North Carolina State University’s Institute for Nonprofits. However, the e-publication “will be self-sufficient” and will not be supported by state funds, according to a January 2010 e-mail from its editor and publisher, Todd Cohen. Multiyear gifts were to come to the publication from its main funders, the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, he said.

Public Health

“Creating a Healthier Colorado Requires an Attention to Public Health,” Richard F. Hamman, founding dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, in the Colorado Health Foundation’s Health Relay blog, 8 April 2010. In this post to coincide with Public Health Week (5-11 April 2010), Hamman points out that in addition to health care, “clean air and water, safe, healthy food and a healthy environment” are important to creating “a healthier community Throughout the state, “our current public health workforce is gr[a]ying,” he says.

Health-Related Costs from Foodborne Illness in the United States, a report from a Pew Charitable Trusts initiative, estimates such illness costs the United States $152 billion annually. Robert L. Scharff—formerly an economist at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and now an assistant professor at the Ohio State University—authored this report from the Produce Safety Project at Georgetown University, released 3 March 2010. The report found that Hawaii, Florida, and Connecticut are the three states with the highest costs per case. Read more here about Pew’s work in food safety. Also see the interactive map showing state-by-state costs, based on the report and developed by the Make Our Food Safe coalition and advocacy group. The report is timely, as the House of Representatives passed a food-safety bill in July 2009, and a separate Senate bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in November 2009. A spokesperson handling the report told Health Affairs that the Senate’s bill may go before the full Senate during the last week of April 2010.

“State and Local Health Departments: Doing More with Support from Foundations,” a 15 February 2010 Issue Focus from Grantmakers In Health, says that “there are many opportunities for foundations to work with and strengthen state and local health departments” during a time when these departments “are asked to take on more responsibilities with fewer resources.” See examples of what funders have supported.

Related resource:

“Agricultural Policy and Childhood Obesity: A Food Systems and Public Health Commentary,” David Wallinga of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (in Minneapolis), Health Affairs, March 2010.