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Signature Initiatives

In 2013, the university identified five Signature Initiatives for the Rising to the Challenge campaign that span individualized health, big data, the science of learning, the future of cities, global health, and the exploration of space.  Together with the Bloomberg Distinguished Professors, the Signature Initiatives leverage and strengthen our divisional expertise to create innovative interdisciplinary solutions for the most critical global issues.

The 21st Century Cities (21CC) Initiative at Johns Hopkins is a university-wide Signature Initiative that brings together civic leaders, top Johns Hopkins researchers, students, and other universities worldwide with a vital interest in cities. Their goal is to catalyze the potential and confront the pressing needs of cities in the 21st Century, like Baltimore, that have had to address sharp demographic and economic changes. 21CC is, at heart, a knowledge-creation enterprise that sparks and nurtures a different kind of knowledge creation – one that is both deeply cross-disciplinary and vitally engaged with cities and their civic leadership. The initiative builds on and supports Baltimore’s legacy of resilience and transformation. It embraces a broad cohort of sister cities from the U.S. and across the globe that face or have faced similar opportunities and challenges. It brings the most talented urban scholars in the nation together with civic leaders from Baltimore and elsewhere to identify and test promising approaches to urban challenges. Cross-disciplinary research, engagement with Baltimore and other revitalizing metropolitan areas, and on-the-ground initiatives to improve the well-being and life chances of all citizens of the 21st Century City are hallmarks of this initiative.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors: Matthew Kahn, Faculty Director of 21CC and Stephen Morgan

The Alliance for a Healthier World (AHW) is a Johns Hopkins University signature initiative that brings together expertise and diverse perspectives to unlock groundbreaking knowledge addressing unresolved global health challenges. It serves as an enterprising partnership and resource hub - to stimulate and support university-wide innovation around healthy equity. The AHW sponsors events that unite faculty, staff and students across the University, funds grants for multidisciplinary work, and provides mentorship, strategic communication and fundraising support for project teams. Experts from medicine, nursing, public health, international relations, engineering, education, business, policy, bioethics, and across the natural and social sciences, arts and humanities, work side by side with partners and disadvantaged communities around the world. Work is focused around four themes (Food Nutrition & Security; Healthy Environments; Gender Equity & Justice; and Transformative Technologies & Institutions). The core theme of the work is improving health equity in low- and middle-income countries. The new knowledge generated about this complex global health challenge will be translated and applied for practical impact – to engage policy makers and implemented in cooperation with partners and communities around the world.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors: Jessica Fanzo and Lisa Cooper

The Johns Hopkins Individualized Health Initiative (Hopkins inHealth) seeks to promote and encourage innovative collaborations to make world-class, affordable health care a reality for the 21st century. With collaborations across the University, Hospital and Health System, and Applied Physics Laboratory, Hopkins inHealth is improving individual and population health outcomes through scientific advances at the interface of biomedical and data science. Physicians, scientists, engineers, and information experts are helping doctors customize medical decision-making for each patient by connecting and analyzing huge databases containing information from electronic health records, DNA sequences, RNA expression levels, protein structures, and high-tech images. Through these efforts, Hopkins inHealth seeks to usher in a new era of medical practice where disease prevention, detection, and treatment plans are tailored to every individual’s unique circumstances.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors: Rexford Ahima, Arturo Casadevall, Nilanjan Chatterjee, Christopher Chute, Andrew Feinberg, Carol Greider, Taekjip Ha, Rong Li, Steven Salzberg, Kathleen Sutcliffe, and Alexander Szalay

The Institute for Data Intensive Engineering and Science (IDIES) will foster education and research in applying data-intensive technologies to problems of national interest in physical and biological sciences and engineering. IDIES will provide faculty, researchers and students with the structure and resources needed to accomplish these goals. The institute provides vision and oversight to high performance and data intensive computing across all of the Johns Hopkins community and manages the Maryland Advanced Research Computing Center (MARCC). Having such a large shared facility enables leveraging needed for seeking further funding opportunities. Additionally, given the emerging need of data analytics skills for the workforce of the future, IDIES works with the departments to establish new masters, graduate, and undergraduate programs, minors, and more, that emphasize these new skills.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors: Kathryn Edin, Mauro Maggioni, Steven Salzberg, Associate Director (East), and Alexander Szalay, Director of IDIES

The Science of Learning Institute (SLI) seeks to connect more than 500 scholars from the cognitive and brain sciences, education, engineering, medicine, arts, and other disciplines to create an integrated understanding of learning, focusing on a range of content domains including language, memory, attention, spatial understanding, and decision- making. For example, SLI is investigating how learning varies as a function of basic learner characteristics, how these characteristics interact with different environments and learning settings to produce variation in learning outcomes, and how interactions with intelligent artificial learning systems can enhance and optimize human learning. The institute has funded more than a dozen cross-disciplinary research endeavors to better understand how learning occurs in humans, animals, and machines, and is using those findings to provide insights into how learning can be optimized for all individuals across the lifespan and across different kinds of talent.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors: Patricia Janak and Alan Yuille

Space@Hopkins is a new initiative designed to integrate the many exciting space studies programs independently underway across the university. In step with One University goals to foster interdisciplinary collaboration across divisions, Space@Hopkins will unify space-related activities across the institution in robotics, astronaut health, planetary sciences, solar physics, Earth science, spacecraft engineering, sensors, and astrophysics.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors: Chuck Bennett and Alex Szalay

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