ASU to use $10M Piper Trust investment to improve health care


Initiative to include research, education, clinical practice, data analysis, internal and external networking, and health care delivery systems

Editor's Note: Health Outcomes @ ASU is now called Health Solutions.

The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust has established a $10-million strategic investment fund at Arizona State University to enable ASU to improve all aspects of health care delivery.

This new initiative will involve improving health care education, research and clinical practice through better use of data, including biomedical informatics (using computational tools to analyze biomedical information), clinical data and public health surveys, to assess health care outcomes and determine the best prevention and treatment practices. The initiative also will connect science to health care practice in a more direct manner than is currently possible.

The strategic investment fund – $2 million a year for five years – will implement a cross-university effort to improve health outcomes that will involve all ASU academic units, including the programs under Health Outcomes @ ASU such as nursing and nutrition, biomedical informatics, biological and health systems engineering as well as a range of programs in the W. P. Carey School of Business, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Herberger Institute for Arts and Design, College of Technology and Innovation and the New College for Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.    

Establishment of the Virginia G. Piper Strategic Initiative Fund was announced today by Judy Jolley Mohraz, president and CEO of the Piper Trust, and ASU President Michael M. Crow. Implementation of the strategic initiative fund will be led by Elizabeth D. Capaldi, ASU executive vice president and provost, and Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development.  

“Piper trustees believe an investment in ASU produces remarkable results," said Mohraz in announcing the investment. "The university is an economic engine for Arizona as well as an internationally recognized center of innovation and knowledge.”

“Beginning in 2002 ASU began setting aside $3 to $7 million a year for strategic investment, with the result of about 100 new projects being launched and $500 million in new investments acquired,” Crow said. “These projects have concentrated on ASU research expansion and initiatives in entrepreneurship, health transformation, sustainability and other areas. With this new investment from the Piper Trust, we will focus on every aspect of health care – from research and information systems to clinical treatment and health insurance – to improve health outcomes, focusing on Arizona, but with implications for the global problems of health.”    

“This seed funding is extremely important for this new initiative, and will enable us to move quickly to make progress on our objectives as well as to generate funding from other sources to expand our work and make it self-sustaining,” Capaldi said.

“This is an important moment in our country in terms of finding innovative solutions toward providing the highest quality health care at the lowest possible cost," added Panchanathan. "Through the Health Outcomes @ ASU initiative, we will seize this opportunity and provide leadership by bringing together researchers from across a range of disciplines with a goal to find novel transdisciplinary solutions. The Piper investment is extremely important and timely to promote innovative collaborations and seed intellectual advancement that will help realize this goal.”

Specifically, the investment will provide seed funding to support projects in the following nine areas:

1) The Arizona Public Health Observatory will collect and analyze public health data from around the world to determine how best Arizona should deal with population-wide issues such as swine and bird flu epidemics.

2) ASU School of Nutrition and Health Promotion – Often overlooked, the prevention of illness and disease, including the use of good nutrition and exercise, is a very important part of the total health care system.   

3) Arizona Obesity Initiative – A joint program with Mayo Clinic, this initiative seeks to stem the worsening global epidemic of obesity, especially among youth and minority populations.

4) ASU School of Biomedical Informatics – The fund will support joint projects between the school and Mayo Clinic involving processing health-related information at three levels: 1) genetic and cellular, 2) clinical (patient-centric) and imaging, and 3) public health involving entire populations.

5) ASU School of the Science of Health Care Delivery – This proposed new school will bring together experts from all aspects of health care to develop an affordable system of health care with excellent outcomes. The school will use a scientific approach to focus on fixing the system from top to bottom.

6) ASU Policy Informatics Initiative – Policymakers often are faced with conflicting possible solutions to complex problems, making it necessary to test their assumptions and proposed actions. This program provides the sophisticated information analysis to examine the issues and evaluate solutions.  

7) ASU Health Outcomes Knowledge Network is a new approach to research and clinical treatment that links people, centers and institutions working on the same health care issues.

8) Arizona Health Transformation Network seeks to transform health care delivery systems by improving access to health services and the way patient care is delivered. The goal is to better link scientific discovery, health care delivery, and the reimbursement for health services, to achieve high-value patient-centric care.

9) ASU School of Biological & Health Systems Engineering will advance the areas of neuroengineering, imaging, tissue engineering, genetic engineering, computational and synthetic biological engineering, and medical devices and diagnostics.