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New Evidence Continues to Build the Field of Positive Health

Apr 17, 2012, 4:10 AM, Posted by Paul Tarini

Paul Tarini Paul Tarini

Today, the Psychological Bulletin published research by Julia K. Boehm and Laura Kubzansky from the Harvard School of Public Health suggesting that positive psychological well-being – such as life purpose, positive emotion, life satisfaction, happiness and optimism – can help protect against and slow the progression of heart disease.

Prior research in this area has focused on how risk factors like anxiety and depression are associated with cardiovascular disease. But this study is the first of its kind to consider how a health asset –psychological well-being – plays a role in heart health.

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We Want to Know Your Thoughts About the TEDMED Great Challenges

Apr 10, 2012, 6:34 AM, Posted by Brian C. Quinn

Brian Quinn / RWJF Brian Quinn, RWJF assistant vice president

At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), our mission is to improve the health and health care of all Americans. Good health and health care are fundamental measures of our success as a nation. That’s why we are pleased to support this year’s TEDMED conference (April 10-13), which brings together leaders from a wide array of medical and non-medical disciplines to explore the future of health and medicine.

In our 40 years, RWJF has learned several lessons that led us to support this year’s TEDMED conference. We’ve learned the importance of working with partners and building on the efforts of others; facilitating collaboration among unlikely allies; resisting the illusion of complete understanding; and being persistent.

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Eight Innovative Ideas to Influence Health Behavior

Apr 4, 2012, 11:30 AM, Posted by Lori Melichar

Lori A. Melichar Lori Melichar

The majority of my work in the Department of Research and Evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been predicated on the long-held assumption that if you show people convincingly that doing one thing will create the outcome they desire, you can inspire behavior change. The problem is that when it comes to health, we consistently observe individuals acting in ways guaranteed to produce poor outcomes.

The observation of seemingly “irrational” behavior by economists, psychologists and others led to the development of the field of behavioral economics, which has, in recent years, produced insight to explain some of the perplexing health behaviors we observe in a way that the classical economic theories I learned in graduate school cannot. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation believes these emerging insights have breakthrough potential to help people make better choices for their health. That’s why I’m excited to announce that the Pioneer Portfolio and Donaghue Foundation are now supporting a group of innovative researchers who are testing simple interventions that may have widespread impact on complex problems.

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Meet the Innovations for Health Competition Finalists!

Mar 19, 2012, 3:19 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Last year, the Pioneer portfolio partnered with Ashoka Changemakers to launch the Innovations for Health: Solutions that Cross Borders competition to find health care solutions from anywhere in the world that have the potential to be applied in other countries to improve health and health care.

After nearly 400 entries from 73 countries, we’re pleased to announce the finalists, and share a blog post with more details from Ashoka Changemakers. Stay tuned for the winners announcement on April 16!

Congratulations to Scott Johnson, an Inspirational Innovator

Mar 14, 2012, 4:28 AM, Posted by Nancy Barrand

Tonight in Washington, Scott Johnson, the CEO of the Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF), will be honored as the recipient of the prestigious Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award from Research!America. The Pioneer Portfolio congratulates Scott and the MRF on what has been truly pioneering and inspiring work.

Scott, an engineer by training, is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has lived with multiple sclerosis since 1976. His keen desire to improve treatment led him to start MRF in 2004. Though RWJF does not fund biomedical research nor focus on specific diseases, we saw MRF’s Accelerated Research Collaboration model as pioneering a new approach to biomedical research – one that had the potential to speed the process of discovery.

With the help of RWJF’s support, MRF piloted the Accelerated Research Collaboration model. The model re-engineers the painfully slow and siloed research enterprise into a collaborative venture to accelerate discovery and move more potential candidates into the pipeline for development of new treatments. From 2005 to 2008, MRF researchers produced 50 peer-reviewed articles, pinpointed 19 new pathways and therapeutic targets for myelin repair, identified 24 new tools for neurological disease research, and filed applications for nine patents, with eight additional applications in the works.

In the process, MRF’s work shifted the field of MS research to focus on myelin repair as the more promising avenue to slow progression of the disease and develop treatments. But as significantly, his fresh view of the biomedical research process – based on how it can and should work, not how it has been traditionally conducted – will shift the future.

The RWJF Pioneer Portfolio is proud to have supported such innovative and life-changing work, and we congratulate Scott Johnson on receiving this much-deserved honor.