SOPH moves into new home, affirms commitment to healthier state
Published on Thursday, November 7, 2019
By: Karen Bascom
The John D. Bower School of Population Health hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Located on the second and fifth floors of the Translational Research Center, the space will be home to learning and research activities for the School of Population Health, the first new academic unit at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 15 years.
“We know that in this space our faculty will nurture future hospital CEOs, nationally respected scientists and clinicians prepared to practice in a value-based clinical environment. In this space, our students will create new knowledge, make life saving discoveries in science and medicine and equally important policy decisions that improve the health of populations in Mississippi and beyond,” said Dr. Bettina Beech, the school’s founding dean. “In this space, faculty, staff and students will work together to change the world.”
The school’s administration and Departments of Population Health Science and Preventive Medicine are on the second floor of the TRC, while the Department of Data Science is on the fifth floor. Each floor is outfitted with offices for students, faculty and staff research laboratories and collaborative and conference areas.
Since the school’s foundation in 2016, its faculty and staff have been spread across the UMMC campus. With the completion of the space in October, now they are all under one roof.
The school’s formation and construction was supported by the Bower Foundation, which supports programs aimed at improving the health of Mississippians. Beech thanked the leadership of the Bower Foundation who attended the ceremony, including founder Dr. John Bower and current CEO Anne Travis for seeing the vision through.
“Today, we celebrate the generosity of the Bower Foundation in providing the founding gift that resulted in our new academic home, and to show our gratitude for their continued support to turbo charge our growth,” Beech said.
Bower, UMMC professor emeritus of medicine, led the way in Mississippi in improving the continuum of care for
kidney disease patients.
“Before we had a name for population health, Dr. Bower was practicing population health and taking care of patients right here in Mississippi,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs, at the ceremony.
Woodward noted that the Bower School of Population Health was the third of its kind in the United States. There are only four today, and Mississippi has one of them.
“Let that sink in. We were not the last, we were not second to last,” Woodward said. “Mississippi is leading the way, and Mississippi needs the science and products born on this school.”
“It’s remarkable to consider where we have come since the back of napkin plans to today,” said Dr. Ralph Didlake, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. “It takes a population to be able to achieve something of this magnitude in such a short amount of time.”
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the School of Population Health used the open house as an opportunity to collect food items for the EversCare Food Pantry.
Beech and Didlake also extend deep appreciation for the hard work of many, including Ruby Smith, executive director of finance and business operations for the school.
“The School of Population Health is now a part of the history of UMMC and we affirm our commitment to educating the health and health care leaders of tomorrow,” Beech said.