In 2008, RWJF's Pioneer Portfolio funded Martin Seligman, Ph.D., to extend his influential work in the area of positive psychology in to the realm of "positive health"—a new approach to improving wellbeing that emphasizes “health strengths” rather than the conventional mix of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
Building on progress in the positive psychology field, which applies validated interventions to boost the strengths and virtues that help individuals thrive in daily life, Seligman and his team are exploring whether positive health may reveal a variety of potent, low-cost approaches that can serve as a buffer against physical and mental illness and, more importantly, enhance people’s overall health strengths.
The project is hosting a speaker series at the University of Pennsylvania's Medical School. Professor Sir Michael Marmot, chair of the World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants of Health and director of the International Institute for Society and Health, University College London, was the first lecturer. On March 4, 2009, Marmot addressed the Commission’s work to examine underlying social determinants of health and how it is transforming global and national policy debates to improve health.