Vancouver street view

Frederik Andreas Jacobsen
Cities Changing Diabetes

2 March, 2017

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awards million-dollar research grant for the study of healthier cities

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded a three-year, $2.4 million grant to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) school of Public Health to create the Healthy Cities Research Hub focusing on the social and environmental conditions that impact health in urban settings throughout North America.

Fully funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest philanthropy in the United States dedicated solely to health, the research hub will focus on extracting and translating the learnings from Cities Changing Diabetes’ community-led efforts.

“We’re excited to draw out specific lessons from Cities Changing Diabetes’ global work to inform our efforts to transform United States cities into places that enable everyone in our diverse society to lead healthier lives now and for generations to come,” said Alonzo Plough, Ph.D., vice president, Research-Evaluation-Learning and chief science officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Cities, the fuel of diabetes

The grant is made at a time where the type 2 diabetes epidemic is threatening to overwhelm health systems. As urban populations increase, aspects of city lifestyles such as long commutes and time pressure are increasing people’s vulnerability to non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, 415 million people across the world have diabetes, two-thirds of whom are living in urban areas.

“When we initiated Cities Changing Diabetes, our goal was to join forces with cities and community stakeholders to understand and address the urban diabetes challenge — globally and locally,” said Niels Lund, vice president for Health Advocacy, Novo Nordisk.

“This collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and UTHealth is an important step forward in this effort and we are proud and honoured to be part of it.”

A hub of knowledge

The hub will facilitate knowledge exchange, drive action-oriented research and evaluate community-based interventions aimed at improving public health in cities, explains Stephen Linder, Ph.D., lead researcher of the project and director of the Institute for Health Policy at UTHealth School of Public Health.

“This is an opportunity to extend the community-based work of the Cities Changing Diabetes initiative through new tools for evaluation and dissemination so that the results proven here can help other cities,” said Stephen Linder.

Linder has served as the lead researcher for Cities Changing Diabetes in Houston since the program began in that city in 2014. As part of the new grant, he will also work with Cities Changing Diabetes lead researchers in Mexico City and Vancouver to foster collaboration and the exchange of knowledge, experience and insight across the three cities.


Healthy Cities Research Hub announcement

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) school of Public Health announces research grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Read the full press release