John and Valerie Rowe Give a Boost to Public Health Promotion

Generous support from the Rowe Family Foundation to fund Lerner Center fellowships and programs

February 10, 2016

Public health researchers publish thousands of reports every year, often including important findings to help people and their communities live healthier lives. But how often does that information actually reach the public? That’s where health promoters come in: they take on the tough task of translating research into communications campaigns and programs to change behaviors for the better—helping encourage people to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, and eat healthy. 

Today, the future of this vital health promotion work looks brighter, thanks to a generous gift from John and Valerie Rowe and their family to the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at the Mailman School. The Lerner Center at Columbia is one of three academic centers established by Sid Lerner, who serves on the Mailman Board of Overseers, and his wife Helaine to improve health promotion and communication practices through research, education, and service.

“Too often, the promotion side of public health doesnt get the attention it deserves—but its key to so many intervention strategies,” says John Rowe, Julius B. Richmond Professor of Health Policy and Aging and Chairman of the Schools Board of Overseers. “Were excited to invest in the Lerner Center’s excellent work, and hope that others soon follow suit.”

The $1.05 million contribution will fund the Rowe Family Fellowship at the Lerner Center, giving two pre-doctoral Sociomedical Sciences students the opportunity to pursue studies and dissertation research in health promotion and communication. The Rowe Family Foundations donation will also support two national conferences on innovation in health promotion research methods. The events will bring together leaders in the field to examine new methods of designing health promotion interventions, share ways to evaluate and disseminate research, explore the potential role of big data in health promotion efforts, and provide opportunities for collaboration and mentorship for early career faculty.

Additionally, with the support of the Rowe family, the Lerner Center aims to expand the literature of public health promotion scholarship: it plans to publish the conference proceedings in a national journal and hopes to create a textbook on innovative health promotion research methods for students, researchers and practitioners across the country.

“I couldnt be more grateful to have the Rowe Family Foundation as a new partner for the Lerner Center,” says Gina Wingood, founding director of Columbia’s Lerner Center and Sidney and Helaine Lerner of Public Health Promotion in the department of Sociomedical Sciences. “With this support, were well on our way to becoming a national leader in the field at a critical time for the health issues our country faces, like obesity and chronic diseases.”