issue Summer 2022

Leadership Message

By Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM, and Ronald S. Kaplan, PhD
Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM, President and CEO

Rosalind Franklin University strives to build an environment in which research and our researchers can thrive. With a reported 80% of health science jobs in our state located in Lake County, we continue to position RFU as a vital part of that ecosystem.

Our Innovation and Research Park and recently expanded Helix 51 — the only wet lab-based incubator in Lake County and the northern Chicago suburbs — are helping to strengthen our regional and state bioscience industry and our local economies. We are supporting and promoting biomedical innovation that improves quality of life; creates good jobs, training and internship opportunities; and contributes to public health.

Ronald S. Kaplan, PhD, Executive Vice President for Research

Undergirding that effort is our determination to elevate public trust in science, research and health care. This issue of Helix speaks to the close relationship between advances in science and technology and good health, and also to our awareness that many people do not benefit from those advances, as structural racism and other systemic inequities that shape health determinants continue to cut lives short.

As an institutional anchor in northern Lake County, RFU has a responsibility to prioritize members of under-resourced communities that face so many barriers to good health.

Our new Michael Reese Research and Education Foundation Center for Health Equity Research represents a renewed commitment to improved health and health equity across Lake County. It will serve as a nucleus and strategic force for improved health and wellness. It will create a community-based hub for interprofessional scholarship, research and innovation. It will combine the strengths of RFU with the strengths and wisdom and perspectives of our communities, which have so much to teach us.

We are indebted to the Michael Reese Foundation, our philanthropic partner in this effort. The center also presents opportunities for increased funding and grants, new community partnerships and new collaborations with established partners and among RFU and other local researchers. We warmly welcome Founding Director Amanda Simanek, PhD, MPH, a native Midwesterner and social epidemiologist, whose rich body of NIH-funded research includes the study of psychosocial determinants of infectious diseases and the underlying pathways between social disadvantage and poor health across generations.

Trust and communication, as Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady, MD, MPH, reminds us, are often overlooked but crucial factors in achieving better outcomes for all, especially for those who shoulder the burden of health and healthcare disparities. Our Center for Health Equity Research will help us build bridges across disciplines, across sectors, across our communities and region. It will help us measure outcomes and strengthen our ability to conduct more inclusive translational and clinical research. It will help us tell the story behind the research, move data into action and, together, create lasting change.

We are grateful for the support of so many as we continue to rebuild trust, tell our story and pursue evidence-based solutions to all that ails us.

Wishing you the best of health.

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