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2013 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

University of Wisconsin

Since matriculating its first class in 1908, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH) has dedicated itself to the “Wisconsin Idea”—the notion that the boundaries of the campus are the boundaries of the state. Ever since, UWSMPH has viewed itself as a means to elevate the health of all Wisconsinites through excellent community service in three areas: community partnerships, translational research endeavors, and medical education.

UWSMPH underwent a transformation in 2005 when it was renamed the school of medicine and public health. This new name better reflected the school’s commitment to uniting the two fields to address the state’s unmet health needs, making it the nation’s first school to join its medical and public health missions in this way. “We
are all transforming this school, whose core is community service,” says Robert N. Golden, M.D., dean of UWSMPH.

An opportunity arose for UWSMPH in 2004 when the school was given a $300 million endowment upon the dissolution of Blue Cross/Blue Shield United of Wisconsin to improve the health status of Wisconsin residents. Created with these funds, the Wisconsin Partnership Program has focused on building the capacity of community organizations throughout the state. To date, the Wisconsin Partnership Program has awarded more than 300 grants totaling nearly $127 million to support local public health programs and educational efforts to address the state’s most vexing health challenges.

The UW Population Health Institute, which is funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program, supports an innovative program to measure and rank the health of the state’s communities. From 2003-2008, the institute published the County Health Rankings, which led to significant local and national attention. In 2009, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided the institute with a three-year, $5 million grant to extend the approach and rank all 3,000 counties in the nation. Available to the public at External Link, this information helps communities and policymakers learn about ways to create healthier places to live, work, and play.

The University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) has emerged as the vehicle to change the culture of research at the university by facilitating the performance of clinical and translational research, training investigators in these disciplines, and transferring research findings to Wisconsin communities to improve health. The formation of the ICTR in 2007 has led to the development of an “academic home” for research, nurtured a new cadre of researchers, and developed a network of partnerships with community organizations throughout the state.

To ensure its educational experiences serve Wisconsin’s needs, UWSMPH has increased opportunities for students to train in diverse settings. The Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine (WARM) is a four-year integrated program within the M.D. curriculum that allows 25 students annually to experience practice in a rural setting, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of rural practicing physicians in the state. On the other side of the spectrum, the Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH) program prepares future physicians to practice in urban Health Professional Shortage Areas in Milwaukee, the state’s largest urban area

The Global Health Institute models the community engagement principles of WARM and TRIUMPH in its mission to advance equitable and sustainable health across Wisconsin and throughout the world.

Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service

This award honors member institutions with a longstanding, major institutional commitment to addressing community needs.