The Pershing Square Foundation shapes emerging discipline of global health delivery

This simple yet powerful idea launched the field of global health and has inspired action and leadership among individuals, communities, and governments alike. Now, The Pershing Square Foundation is helping to advance global health delivery as a significant academic discipline by giving $4 million to establish an endowed professorship at Harvard Medical School. The new Pershing Square Professorship in Global Health will expand the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship in global health, bridging the social sciences relevant to medicine with clinical and evolving delivery science. The incumbent will focus on fighting poverty and disease globally through innovative research and the training of future leaders. This will, in turn, increase exposure to this vital field by students and trainees, inspiring them to commit their careers to global health.

Instituted in 2006 by Karen, MLA ’93, and Bill Ackman, AB ’88, MBA ’92, The Pershing Square Foundation has been a steadfast supporter of HMS and its Department of Global Health and Social Medicine under the direction of Chair Paul Farmer, MD ’90, PhD ’90, Kolokotrones University Professor and co-founder of Partners In Health. The foundation’s mission is to support exceptional leaders and innovative organizations that tackle important social issues and deliver scalable and sustainable impact. For example, the foundation has supported the One Acre Fund to help African farmers produce and sell more crops, in addition to the Innocence Project and Human Rights Watch among others.

“This gift allows Paul Farmer and his team to do even more to tackle social issues today while simultaneously creating greater impact for the long term,” says Paul Bernstein, CEO of the New York-based foundation.

“Increasing leadership is vital to multiplying the kind of work Harvard Medical School can do both academically and on the ground,” says Bernstein.

Bridging the Gap

This new gift builds upon the foundation’s generous and critical support of the Global Health Delivery (GHD) Project at HMS and its affiliate Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Through course offerings, curriculum development, knowledge generation, information sharing, and online communities, GHD has forged collaboration among educators, researchers, stakeholders, and implementers, and systematized the study of health delivery, which is essential to bridging the knowledge-practice gap in global health.

The establishment of this professorship will have a ripple effect and tangible impact on GHD and the world’s most vulnerable populations, ensuring that the progress in implementation science is embodied through scholarly contributions to the evidence base and to the training mission of HMS and its many partner institutions.

“My hope and expectation is that the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health will build upon our vision of integrating research and teaching to improve global health delivery. This will not only impact the lives and health of poor people around the world, but it will inspire the heart and engage the intellect of the students and future scholars who will take up this cause as their life’s work,” says Farmer.

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