- Open Access
Public Health Research Priorities For The Future
Public Health Reviews volume 33, pages225–239(2011)
The last century of innovative public health discoveries has led most of the world’s population to lead longer, healthier lives. Yet, the future holds some of the greatest public health challenges in mankind’s history. Global disparities in health; medication safety; climate change; epidemics of obesity and diabetes; an aging world demographic; and emerging infections all represent problems requiring scientific solutions. The solutions to these problems, like the solutions to those in the last century that contributed so greatly to our quality of life, will require paradigm-shifting innovation.
To maximize individual innovative potential, one strategy is formal instruction in the methods of innovative thinking. Teaching innovative thinking is rarely integrated into science training. However 40 years of accumulated evidence suggests that formal instruction results in improved thinking skills. I describe here some of the methods integrated into a course for graduate and professional health science students entitled Innovative Thinking. The curriculum consists of three components: recognizing and finding alternatives to habitual cognitive patterns; learning to use tools that enhance idea generation and originality; and harmonizing divergent thinking with the process of convergent thinking that is central to the scientific method.
To build more innovative environments, institutions can promote team science, fund staged scientific designs that are heavy on early prototypes, reward and grow the training programs of past innovators, and become less risk averse.
Although public health has accomplished much, it must continue to battle major, growing causes of disease and disability. Innovation is the engine of scientific discovery. Releasing the great potential for discovery in all of us must be central to forwarding health and prosperity in the world.
Centers for Disease Control: Ten Great Public Health Achievements United States 1900–1999. Morb Mort Wkly Rep. 1999;48:241–3.
Ness RB, Andrews EB, Gaudino JA, Newman AB, Soskolne CL, Sturmer T, Wartenberg DE, Weiss SH. The future of epidemiology. Acad Med. 2009;84:1631–7.
United Nations Development Fund. MDG Goals Annual Report 2010. UNDP. Available from URL: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ (Accessed 16 April, 2011).
Waage J, Banerji R, Campbell O, et al. The millennium development goals: a cross-sectoral analysis and principles for goal setting after 2015. Lancet. 2010;376:991–1023.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Available from URL: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml (Accessed 4 January, 2011).
Leon D, Walt G (eds). Poverty, Inequality and Health: An International. Oxford University Press; 2001.
Kawachi I, Kennedy B, Wilkinson R. The Society and Population Health Reader: Income Inequality and Health. New York: The New Press; 1999.
Pawson R, Tilley N. Realistic Evaluation. London: Sage Publications Ltd.; 1997.
Global Forum for Health Research: helping correct the 10/90 gap. 10/90 report on health research 2003–2004. Available from URL: http://www.globalforumhealth.org/Media-Publications/Publications/10–90-Report-2003–2004. (Accessed 19 July, 2009).
Diamond, J. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking Penguin; 2005.
McMichael T. Human Frontiers, Environments and Disease. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2001.
World Health Organization. Obesity and overweight. Available from URL: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/index.html (Accessed 19 July, 2009).
Sjostrom L. Bariatric surgery and reduction in morbidity and mortality: experiences from the SOS study. Int J Obseity. 2009;32:S93–7.
The NS, Suchindran C, North DE, Popkin BM, Gordon-Larsen P. Association of adolescent obesity with risk of severe obesity in adulthood. JAMA. 2010;304:2042–7.
Hutch DJ, Bouye KE, Skillen E, Lee C, Whitehead L, Rashid JR. Potential strategies to eliminate built environment disparities for disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. Am J Public Health. 2011:101:587–595.
Christakis NA, Fowler JH. The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. N Engl J Med. 2007;357:370–9.
Centers for Disease Control. Achievements in Public Health, 1900–1999; Safer and Healthier Foods. Morb Mort Wkly Rep. 1999;48:905–913.
Liu S, Jones RN, Glymour MM. Implications of lifecourse epidemiology for research on determinants of adult disease. Public Health Reviews. 2010;32:489–511.
Karlamangla A, Tinetti M, Guralnik J, Studenski S, Wetle T, Reuben D. Comorbidity in older adults: Nosology of impairment, diseases, and conditions. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2007;62:296–300.
Bateman RJ. Munsell Y, Morris JC, Swarm R, Yarasheski KE, Holtzman DM. Human amyloid-B synthesis and clearance rates as measured in cerebrospinal fluid in vivo. Nature Med. 2006;13:856–61.
Newman AB, Simonsick EM, Naydeck BL et al. Association of long distance corridor walk performance with mortality, cardiovascular disease, mobility limitation, and disability. JAMA. 2006;295:2018–26.
The End of Antibiotics. Available from URL: http://healthland.time.com/2010/08/16/the-end-of-antibiotics/ (Accessed 26 April, 2011).
Schlipkoter U, Flahault A. Communicable diseases: achievements and challenges for public health. Public Health Reviews. 2010;32:90–119.
Fredricks DN, Relman DA. Sequence-based identification of microbial pathogens: A reconsideration of Koch’s postulates. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1996;9:18–33.
Gill SR, Pop M, Deboy RT et al. Metagenomic analysis of the human distal gut microbiome. Science. 2006;312:1355–9.
Lambert LC, Fauci AS. Influenza vaccines for the future. N Engl J Med. 2010;363:2036–44.
Ness RB. Fear of failure: why American science is not winning the war on cancer. Ann Epidemiol. 2010;20:89–91.
Scott G, Leritz LE, Mumford MD. The effectiveness of creativity training: a quantitative review. Creativity Research Journal. 2004;16:361–88.
Rose LH, Lin H. A meta-analysis of long-term creativity training programs. J Creative behavior. 1984;18:11–22.
de Bono E. Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step. New York: Harper Perennial; 1970.
Michalko M. Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques (2nd edition). Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press; 2006.
Warren RJ. Reminiscences on Helicobacter pylori. Public Health Reviews. 2010;32:10–14.
Abhijit VB, Duflo E. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. New York: Public Affairs; 2011.
Kuhn TS. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 1962.
Recommended Citation: Ness RB. Public Health Research Priorities for the Future. Public Health Reviews. 2011;33:225–39.
About this article
Cite this article
Ness, R.B. Public Health Research Priorities For The Future. Public Health Rev 33, 225–239 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03391629
- Scientific training