Michael Bloomberg gives $300M to Johns Hopkins for effort targeting major domestic public health issues

Bloomberg American Health Initiative will focus on new approaches to drug addiction, obesity, gun violence, adolescent health, environmental threats

Michael R. Bloomberg

Image caption: Michael R. Bloomberg speaks at the October 2014 dedication of Johns Hopkins University's Malone Hall.

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Bloomberg Philanthropies, founded by businessman and three-term New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, will give $300 million to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for an initiative aimed at helping to reshape the national public health agenda, the school announced today.

The gift, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bloomberg School, will create the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, which will focus on five areas affecting public health—drug addiction, obesity, gun violence, adolescent health, and environmental threats.

"People are living longer lives than ever before in history, thanks in no small part to the pioneering public health work done at Johns Hopkins over the last century," Bloomberg said. "But we can and must do better, starting here in the U.S., where life expectancy is lagging behind much of the developed world. By spreading smart public health strategies that save lives and bringing people together to try new approaches, we can make the same strides in the 21st century against health threats like air pollution, gun violence, and obesity that we did in the 20th century against polio and other infectious diseases. There's no institution better equipped to lead the charge than Johns Hopkins, and it's an honor to be able to help launch the school's next 100 years with this gift."

"By spreading smart public health strategies that save lives and bringing people together to try new approaches, we can make the same strides in the 21st century against health threats like air pollution, gun violence, and obesity that we did in the 20th century against polio and other infectious diseases."
Michael R. Bloomberg

The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health was founded in 1916, making it the first independent graduate school of public health. In 2001, the school was renamed for Bloomberg in recognition of his financial support and commitment to the field of public health.

With this new commitment, Bloomberg—a 1964 Johns Hopkins University graduate who served as chairman of the university's board of trustees from 1996 to 2002—has now given Johns Hopkins $1.5 billion in the 52 years since he graduated. Bloomberg is believed to be the first person ever to reach this level of giving to a single U.S. institution of higher education.

"Michael Bloomberg's commitment to this transformational initiative is testament to his vision that, as our nation's public health challenges have evolved, so too must our model of public health," said Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels. "The Bloomberg American Health Initiative builds on Michael's visionary legacy at Johns Hopkins and sets the bar ever higher in the next 100 years to transform our national response to modern public health challenges and bend the trajectory of the lives of individuals and communities across the United States."

Bloomberg's gift provides:

  • A $100 million endowment to fund 50 public health fellows each year, nominated from organizations located around the nation, to receive their Master of Public Health degrees and be committed to returning to their communities to work in the practice of public health for at least one year. This arrangement will create a public health triangle of collaboration between the master's student, the home community, and the school. The initiative funds their education, training, and living expenses while in the program. By its 10th year, the program will have a network of more than 400 fellows.

  • A $125 million endowment is intended to fund faculty and their research within the five focus areas outlined above, as well as jump start immediate research needs. This network of 25 faculty will extend well beyond the Bloomberg School of Public Health; 10 of the funded faculty receiving joint appointments in other schools at Johns Hopkins and 12 receiving joint appointments that span more than one department at the Bloomberg School. Further, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative will generate catalytic research outcomes with the potential to spur additional funding from other organizations, foundations, or philanthropists.

  • $75 million to establish scholarships for Johns Hopkins University's new school-wide Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program and support a biennial public health summit that will bring together Bloomberg fellows, faculty, and partnering organizations to share findings from research and practice to solve major health issues. DrPH candidates play a critical role in practical implementation and evaluation of public health programs at the local and national level.

"We are deeply grateful to Michael Bloomberg for this incredibly generous gift that launches our next century," said Michael J. Klag, dean of the Bloomberg School. "It will have an impact on the school that bears his name and on public health in the United States for generations to come. The Bloomberg American Health Initiative will build a broad network of innovative experts in all parts of the country committed to protecting health and saving lives, millions at a time."

Bloomberg—a World Health Organization Global Ambassador for non-communicable diseases—gave his first Johns Hopkins gift (a $5 contribution) in 1965, a year after he received his bachelor's degree in engineering from the university. His support over more than 50 years has had an extraordinary impact on Johns Hopkins in every way—in terms of facilities and infrastructure, research and academic achievement, student body quality and diversity—and has benefitted students and faculty throughout the university. Most notable are the Bloomberg Distinguished Professors, appointed across two or more schools to ensure collaboration at the highest levels; and the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children's Center, a 12-story, 560,000-square-foot tower at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, which opened in 2012.

Johns Hopkins recognizes funding for the Bloomberg American Health Initiative as a contribution to Rising to the Challenge: The Campaign for Johns Hopkins, an effort to raise $5 billion to support students, faculty, advances in research and clinical care, and interdisciplinary solutions to some of humanity's most important problems. The campaign, supporting both Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine, was publicly launched in May 2013 and is targeted for completion in 2018. Including funding for the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, more than $4.4 billion has been committed so far.