University of Washington Launches New Institute to Evaluate International Health Programs

Published June 1, 2007

The University of Washington (UW) announced today the creation of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a new research center that will conduct independent, rigorous evaluations of health programs worldwide.

Center supported by $105 million from Gates Foundation and $20 million from UW; will be led by world-renowned health expert

June 1, 2007–The University of Washington (UW) announced today the creation of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a new research center that will conduct independent, rigorous evaluations of health programs worldwide.

The institute will be supported by a new $105 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and $20 million from UW. Its goal is to help guide international policymaking by providing high-quality data and analysis on health needs and outcomes, and assessing the performance of health programs.

"Health policy must be based on evidence, not speculation," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program. "There has been a huge increase in resources for global health in recent years, and it’s essential to evaluate the impact of these investments. With high-quality data, we can ensure resources go where they are needed most, and dramatically improve health care delivery."

"This generous grant from the Gates Foundation is a milestone for the University of Washington," said UW President Dr. Mark Emmert. "This is the largest private gift in in UW's history, and it will enable us, together with critical funding provided by Governor Gregoire and the state Legislature in the 2007 session, to bring unparalleled talent and resources to bear on the world’s greatest health challenges. We are grateful to the Gates Foundation and to the leadership in Olympia for making all of this possible."

World-renowned health expert appointed to lead institute

The new institute will be directed by Dr. Christopher Murray, a world-renowned health economist who was appointed in May to the faculty of the UW School of Medicine’s new Department of Global Health. Dr. Murray was previously director of the Harvard University Initiative for Global Health, and is a former senior official at the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Chris Murray is the ideal leader for the institute," said Dr. Paul G. Ramsey, Dean of the UW School of Medicine. "He is one of the foremost experts on health evaluation, and his pioneering research has had a wide-ranging impact." The institute will focus on three main areas:

  • Health monitoring: Collecting and analyzing data on health indicators and trends, such as the prevalence of major diseases and the availability of health services.
  • Program evaluation: Conducting independent, rigorous evaluations of the results and effectiveness of health programs.
  • Dissemination: Making health data and information freely available to decision-makers, researchers, and the public.

When fully operational, the institute will consist of more than 100 faculty and staff. It will also establish an international network of collaborating research centers, and provide fellowships to train junior researchers.

"We hope to set the gold standard for scientifically rigorous evaluation in health," said Dr. Murray. "Global health spending is on the rise, yet too often there are gaps in information about where these funds can have the greatest impact."

Dr. Murray noted the institute will play a critical role in helping achieve global health targets such as the Millennium Development Goals, which call for major improvements in health by 2015.

"Health targets only work if we have a reliable way to track progress and measure success," Dr. Murray said.

Institute to work closely with WHO, other international partners

The institute will be guided by an international board of health experts chaired by Dr. Julio Frenk, a senior fellow at the Gates Foundation and Mexico’s former minister of health.

Dr. Frenk said the institute will work closely with international partners, including the Health Metrics Network, a WHO-led initiative to strengthen national health information systems. The Health Metrics Network was launched in 2005 with a $50 million grant from the Gates Foundation.

"Strengthening health monitoring and evaluation must be a global priority," Dr. Frenk said. "We all have a responsibility to make sure that health programs are producing results and saving lives."

UW a leader in global health

The creation of the institute comes on the heels of UW’s establishment of a Department of Global Health that is jointly administered by the School of Medicine and School of Public Health and Community Medicine. UW has a long history of research and service projects worldwide.

"We have more than 250 grants and over 300 faculty involved working in more than 50 countries worldwide," Dr. Emmert said. "Seattle is a leader in international health, and the University is proud to be part of this important work."

About the University of Washington: The University of Washington’s research engine is driven by nearly a billion dollars a year in outside grants and contracts, about three-quarters of which come from the federal government. Among public research universities, the UW has been the number-one recipient of federal research grants and contracts since 1974. Research contributes directly to the educational goals of the UW’s 39,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. With 30,000 employees, the university is the second largest employer in King County, Washington state’s largest county. The university operates the University of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center, which annually provide more than 200,000 days of patient care and record more than 300,000 visits to their outpatient clinics.

About the Gates Foundation: Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people – especially those with the fewest resources – have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Patty Stonesifer and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

University of Washington,

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation,