Announcement | Hassenfeld Institute

July 28, 2021

Dear SPH Community,

We are writing to update you on the progress of the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute, as well as some major next steps as it transitions into its next phase. As you may know, the Institute recently reached the five-year milestone, capping off a hugely successful first phase. Today, we would like to both celebrate its accomplishments to date and make an announcement as we start building off that momentum.

As the Institute looks to continue to expand its important work, we are excited to report that with the generous support of the Hassenfeld family, we have been able to recruit Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH to join the leadership of the Institute. Michael will be joining the Executive Committee for the Institute and will succeed Patrick Vivier, MD, PhD as Director of the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute effective November 1, 2021.

Michael will be joining at an extremely exciting time for the Institute. Over the past five years, it has – in no small part due to Patrick’s leadership:

  • Realized the vision of uniting the School of Public Health, Alpert Medical School, and other University entities with affiliated hospitals, state agencies, local government, and other community partners to improve the health of families in Rhode Island, address health disparities, undertake cutting-edge research to inform national and global maternal and child health, and build a “learn by doing” model to train the next generation of maternal and child health leaders.
  • Successfully implemented its three initiatives - Asthma, Autism, and Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Fitness – and built on the Institute’s initial investment to obtain major grants to further their goals and impact.
  • Launched the Prospective Birth Cohort study, which is supporting work on a broad range of child health issues including asthma, autism, healthy weight and nutrition, gestational diabetes, and health disparities. The Institute leveraged the initial Hassenfeld family funding to procure approximately $15 million in federal funding and other support to expand the scope of the initial cohort.
  • Established integral local partnerships, such as placing Hassenfeld Scholars in summer programs for children in the core cities, helping the Rhode Island Food Bank get food to families facing hunger, and working with Progresso Latino, the Central Falls School System, and many others directly impacting child health.

The legacy built by the Institute during its first five years will be felt for generations to come. Its resources will continue to provide information to families and offer webinars on topics related to child health, and its robust partnership with state agencies working with children will guide policies and undertake important research on a broad range of topics that are critical to improving the health and well-being of all kids in Rhode Island.

We know that Michael is well-positioned to help us realize even greater impact during the Institute’s next phase, and he brings with him an outstanding range of experience and accomplishments. Michael is one of our nation’s leading pediatric health services researchers. He is currently the Chief of the Division of General Academic Pediatrics, Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Pediatrics, and Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. He is also Associate Chief Medical Officer for Research and Population Health at Boston Medical Center. Dr. Silverstein earned his MD from Harvard Medical School and completed his MPH as well as his medical training at the University of Washington, where he also did his fellowship in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. He joined the Boston University faculty in 2004. He serves as the Chair of the Maternal Child Health Workgroup of the US Preventive Services Task Force, and his current research interests focus on low-income and under-served children, including family-based mental health, maternal depression, traumatic stress, and addiction in newborns and infants, food insecurity, and autism services.

In closing, please join us in expressing our appreciation to Patrick for his extraordinary service as inaugural Director of the Institute. Patrick will work closely with Michael during this important transition period. Please also join us in welcoming Michael as we look forward to what the Institute’s future has in store.

Regards,

Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
Dean, Brown University School of Public Health

Jack A. Elias, MD
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences