University of Maryland President Jay A. Perman, MD, and Joshua Sharfstein, MD, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), have appointed Renee Fox, MD, as executive director of the Institute for a Healthiest Maryland, effective Sept. 1. Fox is an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine.
Funds from a five-year, $9.5 million federal Community Transformation Grant that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded to DHMH last year were used to establish the Institute for a Healthiest Maryland, which Perman and Sharfstein envisioned as a guiding resource for transforming Maryland communities into healthy environments. The institute, which was announced during last November's Summit on Childhood Obesity hosted by the University and DHMH, will focus on improving the health of Maryland residents, translating public health research into practice, and providing technical assistance to local health departments and community organizations.
The focus of the community transformation grant is on three wellness areas: obesity prevention, tobacco-use prevention, and hypertension and high cholesterol management. To accomplish this mission, the institute partnered with several leading educational institutions from across the state, including the following from the University: the Francis King Carey School of Law's Legal Resource Center for Tobacco Regulation, Litigation, and Advocacy; the Maryland P3 (Patients, Pharmacists, Partnerships) Program at the School of Pharmacy; the Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment program at the School of Nursing; and the School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics. Other partners include the Maryland Quitting Use and Initiation of Tobacco Resource Center at the University of Maryland's Baltimore County campus; the University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park, and the Center for Human Nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
At the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Fox has served as the principal investigator on the B'more for Healthy Babies Upton/Druid Heights program, and recently served on the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council Health Disparities Workgroup, developing a report recommending methods to decrease health disparities. Throughout her career, she has worked to improve access to and the quality of care for mothers and their infants in Maryland.
"My new position as the executive director of the Institute for a Healthiest Maryland is an exciting next step in my career," Fox says. "My clinical, administrative, and policy background has prepared me to lead this joint initiative of the University of Maryland and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. I will support its mission to bring together academic partners and public health practitioners in improving the health of Maryland residents and transforming communities."
The institute and its partners promote collaboration with academics throughout Maryland to improve the health of Maryland residents by guiding policy, systems, and environmental changes in local communities. It provides evidence-based resources from higher education experts, coordinates trainings and technical assistance, maintains an interactive website, and cultivates policy changes by working with leaders at the local, state, and national levels.
For more information on the institute, visit www.healthiestmaryland.org.