Global Urban Health Summit

Remarks by Provost Jean Morrison
Global Urban Health Summit
October 28, 2011
Hotel Commonwealth

Thank you, Jonathan (Simon). I am delighted to be joining you this morning and to be part of a program, discussion and collaboration so important to the way we address public health, both here in Boston and around the rest of the world.

From the earliest days of our founding, Boston University has, of course, made a mission not only of providing students with the tools they need to succeed in the workplace, but with a sense of their place in the larger world and an ability to think critically about the challenges of the day.

One need not look far today to find BU faculty and alumni making their mark on the world by designing and delivering solutions to those in need… from working to alleviate hunger in impoverished regions… to building software to help those with disabilities lead increasingly more accessible lives… to marrying medicine with nanotechnology to discover new treatments for disease… or developing an artificial pancreas for those struggling with diabetes.

The work of the Center for Global Health and Development and this inaugural Urban Summit are another brilliant example of what is possible when you have talented scholars and clinicians whose passion for research is only equaled by their passion for assisting others to live longer, healthier lives.

The ideas and solutions you are discussing through this summit could not be more important. Or timelier.

In an age of rapid urbanization, with half of the world’s population now living in metropolitan areas, the challenge of understanding these communities’ evolving needs and delivering life sustaining and enriching services is as great as any we face today.

It is a challenge that Boston University, as one of the nation’s largest urban research institutions, is uniquely equipped to take on.

In describing what differentiates the great American research university from its global counterparts, Columbia University Provost and BU Trustee Jonathan Cole would write of the high proportion of the world’s most important fundamental knowledge and practical research discoveries produced on our campuses.

“It is the quality of the research produced,” he would write, “and the system that invests in and trains young people to be leading scientists and scholars, that distinguishes them and makes them the envy of the world.”

The efforts Dr. Simon and Dr. Beverly Brown are leading through this Center and through today’s discussions show just why this is so.

In the Center for Global Health and Development, they have established an incubator not only of thought, but of action on a host of critical issues, from health delivery, to HIV/AIDS, poverty, and reproductive, maternal and child health among underserved populations.

As this morning’s event attests, they are also quickly establishing themselves as one of the nation’s premier conveners and catalysts for meaningful collaboration on issues of urban health.

At a time when the challenge of urbanization is only compounded by the global economic crisis, I am delighted to see in this room so many of the leading thinkers and researchers, both internationally and domestically, on these issues.

Boston University is excited to be a part of such an important ongoing conversation. We are excited to be host to a center with so many implications for policy development, innovation, and meaningful improvements for the health and well being of populations.

I look forward to tracking the progress of today’s panels and hope that this meeting will bring to light new areas in which Boston University can substantively contribute to the global urban agenda.

On behalf of our University’s entire leadership, welcome, thank you for all that you’re doing, and best wishes for a terrific and productive day ahead.

Thank you.