On November 21, Health Affairs released a series of Web First articles profiling the winners of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Young Leaders Awards, which were announced this Fall on the occasion of the Foundation’s fortieth anniversary. The RWJF Young Leader Awards highlight the important contributions that people can make early in their careers to improving health and health care for all Americans.
The awardees, all age forty or younger when they were named, have made exceptional contributions in a broad spectrum of activities that display their commitment to their communities:
- Applying Data Analytics And Information Exchange To Improve Care For Patients, Ruben Amarasingham, Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation, Dallas, TX. Parkland Hospital’s Ruben Amarasingham built a model to predict patients at high risk for readmission and now leads efforts to extend the benefits of health information to the nation’s most vulnerable.
- Promoting Health And Development In Detroit Through Gardens And Urban Agriculture, Ashley Atkinson, Urban Agriculture and Openspace, the Greening of Detroit, Detroit, MI. The city’s community gardens today supply just 2 percent of the fruit and vegetables consumed locally. Ashley Atkinson aims for “food sovereignty” – the day when most of the fresh fruits and vegetables that city residents eat are also grown there.
- Employing Behavioral Economics And Decision Sciences In Crucial Choices At End Of Life, Scott Halpern, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. A program created by physician Scott Halpern employs multidisciplinary teams to help patients and family members make end-of-life decisions that track with their goals.
- Understanding The Health Impact Of Racism – And Trying To Reverse It, Naa Oyo Kwate, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. Naa Oyo Kwate not only explores the health impact of racism and inequality, but she also seeks to improve health through innovative “countermarketing” efforts against racism.
- Using Digital Communications And Social Media To Redraw The Cardiac Care Map, Raina Merchant, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Emergency medicine physician Raina Merchant created a cell phone program to provide CPR instructions – and now leads an effort to map every automated external defibrillator in the United States.
- Creating A New Model To Help Health Care Providers Write Prescriptions For Health, Rebecca Onie, Health Leads, Boston, MA. Rebecca Onie and a colleague founded Health Leads, an organization staffed by student advocates who help doctors and other health care providers “prescribe” basic resources such as food and heat.
- Drawing On Community Organizing To Advance Public Health In Minnesota And Beyond, Doran Schrantz, ISAIAH, Minneapolis, MN. As leader of a faith-based organization in Minnesota, Doran Schrantz has worked for transit, housing, and other policies to benefit the health of low-income people.
- Bucking Conventional Wisdom And Focusing On Disparities To Address Kidney Disease, Carmen Peralta, Division of Nephrology, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Physician and clinical researcher Carmen Peralta devised a breakthrough test for detecting those at risk of developing end-stage renal disease – a condition that afflicts disproportionate numbers of blacks and Hispanics.
- Bringing The Concepts Of Peer Coaches And Local Health Workers From Africa To Harlem, Prabhjot Singh, Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, New York, NY. Prabhjot Singh, a PhD scientist and medical resident, saw the effectiveness of community health workers while working in Africa. Now he helps run a New York-based organization that trains peer coaches to help struggling Americans manage their health.
- Healing A Community By Innovating At A Community Health Center, Somava Stout, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA. Somava Stout led care transformation at a Boston-area clinic and now spearheads implementation of the patient-centered medical home model at the Cambridge Health Alliance.
At the October announcement of the awardees, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF President and CEO, said that “during the relatively short period that our foundation has been operational, these impressive men and women were born and raised and started doing amazing things that can potentially improve the health of all Americans. We’re proud to acknowledge their early success, and inspired by the potential they have to improve US health and health care.”