The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) established the Institute for a Healthiest Maryland (IHM) in November 2011 with startup funds from a portion of a five-year, $9.5 million federal Community Transformation Grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The institute is a valuable new resource for Maryland communities to improve wellness across the state, primarily in three areas: obesity prevention, tobacco prevention, and appropriate management of hypertension and high cholesterol.

Both MPowering the State partners, UMB and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), play an essential role in the IHM initiative. The School of Medicine in Baltimore is an academic partner, focusing on school wellness implementation to prevent childhood obesity. The School of Public Health in College Park is also an academic partner, working with DHMH to provide the evaluation of a low-income, smoke-free, multi-unit housing program.

The institute also is developing collaborations on research and implementation of childhood obesity projects with faculty at the University of Maryland Extension at UMCP and the current IHM academic partners.

The institute’s advisory board is co-chaired by UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, and DHMH Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD. The board consists of leaders from academia, public health, public education, hospitals, providers, and community organizations, and will address policy, program, and quality assurance needs of community partners. The board will help lead efforts to change public health policy at the federal, state, and local levels.

IHM Executive Director Renee E. Fox, MD, serves as a liaison between the advisory board and community leaders. Before assuming her IHM role, Fox was an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she had worked since 1986.

Under Fox’s direction, IHM will be a major resource for communities, particularly local health departments and community leaders, as part of the state’s “Healthiest Maryland” campaign to transform communities into healthy environments for all, especially recognizing the need to address health disparities.

IHM’s mission is to measurably improve the health of Maryland citizens by supporting community transformation efforts, translating public health research into practice, and providing technical assistance to local health departments and community organizations.

Contact the following for more information:

Renee E. Fox, MD, Director, IHM Associate Professor of Pediatrics, UMB