Christopher Murray chairs new Department of Health Metrics Sciences


The new Department of Health Measurement Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle will officially open on July 1 with Dr. Christopher JL Murray, world-renowned for his work analyzing data from health, at its head.

The department was created to serve at the forefront of emerging health metrics science, according to Dr. Paul G. Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the UW School. of Medicine, which announced Murray’s appointment as founding president. It is the first university department in the world devoted to this scientific discipline.

Murray will continue in his post as principal of the university Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which he founded in 2007.

“Chris Murray is highly regarded for his ability to bring people together from many professional fields, organizations and countries to work for the common good of improving the lives of children and adults around the world,” Ramsey said. “In doing so, it upheld the principles of scientific integrity, public relevance, open knowledge sharing, collaboration and political impartiality. He will now bring his strong and respected leadership to faculty and students in a field that has become crucial in defining local, national and global health agendas.

Murray is a professor of health measurement sciences at the UW School of Medicine with adjunct appointments in global health and health services. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he led the formation of IHME, an independent global health research center administratively based at UW Medicine. IHME will remain a separate research institute based at UW Medicine.

Under his leadership, IHME has grown to a staff of more than 400 people and a global network of 3,500 scholars, scientists and researchers, who collaborate on the studies of the institute. He has earned an international reputation for advancing the science of health metrics and for compiling comprehensive and timely data and evidence for policy makers and public health advocates. IHME is renowned for its Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors (GBD) study, its role in tracking health financing, and its Global Health Mapping project at the 5 by 5 square kilometer level. . Through faculty development, scholarly analysis, and student training, the new Department of Health Measurement Sciences

Christopher Murray (right) in a meeting with Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

strengthen efforts to reduce the burden of disease. The work of the new department will strongly support UW Medicine’s mission to improve the health of the public. It will also contribute to the UW Population Health Initiative and foster collaborations among public health agencies, health care systems, clinicians, and professionals from many fields, including epidemiology, computer science, economics, statistics, demography and data science.

In the new department, Murray will foster an interdisciplinary approach to obtaining reliable measures of population health and its determinants. These analyzes will provide quantitative information about health influences in the United States and around the world.

“Our goal is for the department to foster a strong sense of community among diverse researchers and trainees, accommodate their driving interests in data science for the public good, and set new standards in discovery and innovation for health. of the public”, Murray Murray mentioned.

Murray’s interest in health analytics was initiated in part by his parents who practiced medicine in their home country of New Zealand, as well as in Niger, Kenya, Ethiopia and Comoros. . As a boy, he began to wonder how the overall health of a nation’s population, and not just the improvement of specific diseases, could be improved.

Murray earned a BA in biology from Harvard College in 1984 and a D.Phil. in international health economics from Oxford University in 1987. He returned to the United States to earn an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1991.

He then studied the world’s most pressing health problems and strategies to correct them, as well as to reduce health disparities. Murray’s commitment to providing accurate and unbiased evidence led him to devise more rigorous ways to analyze and compare the performance of public health and medical care systems and the effectiveness of health technologies.

Murray served at the WHO from 1998 to 2003 as Executive Director of the Evidence and Information Policy Group. From 2003 to 2007, he directed the Harvard University Initiative for Global Health and the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and was the Richard Saltonstall Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health.

His research team is credited with the global burden of disease approach, which systematically quantifies health loss, over time, due to disease, injury and risk factors, by age, sex and geographic location. The Global Burden of Disease Project now provides annual updates.

In the early 1990s, with Dr Alan Lopez, an Australian public health specialist and then colleague at the WHO, Murray developed a new metric to compare disability and death from various diseases, and to explore the effects other factors, such as smoking or obesity, to the overall burden of disease. Murray and Lopez received the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award in 2018 for their groundbreaking work conceptualizing and quantifying the global burden of disease. Similar approaches have been employed to provide a county-by-county view of health status in the United States. Some of IHME’s recent analyzes include mapping the consequences of the Zika virus, examining why so many Americans are dying young, and studying the growing disparities in the lifespans of rich and poor.


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