Oct. 16, 2017

Winners of 2017 D.C. Public Health Case Challenge Announced at National Academy of Medicine Annual Meeting

WASHINGTON – The winners of the fifth annual D.C. Public Health Case Challenge were announced at this year’s National Academy of Medicine Annual Meeting.  The challenge aims to promote interdisciplinary, problem-based learning around a public health issue of importance to the local Washington, D.C. community.

Universities in the D.C. area formed teams consisting of five to six members from at least three disciplines. Teams were presented with a case, written by an independent team of students from the participating universities, that provides background information on a local public health problem. Teams were given two weeks to devise a comprehensive intervention, which they presented to an expert panel of judges. Teams were judged on the interdisciplinary nature of their response, feasibility of implementation, creativity, and practicality.

The 2017 Case Challenge topic was “Lead and Adverse Childhood Experiences: Neurological and Behavioral Consequences for Youth in the District of Columbia.”  The student teams were asked to develop a solution to this complex problem with a hypothetical $2.5 million budget.

The 2017 Grand Prize winner was Howard University.  Team members Mark Lorthe, Nancy Alexis, Nicole McLean, Camille Robinson, Johnothan Smileye, and Tahirah Williams proposed a solution titled “CATCH: Communities Advancing Through Child Health.”  Their multi-faceted and multi-level intervention proposed providing staff training and certification opportunities to unlicensed child care providers and supporting parents as an entry point for tackling exposure to both lead and adverse childhood experiences, linking families to legal aid for rental housing lead issues, and hosting summertime events to engage and educate the community.

Three additional prizes were awarded, including two Harrison C. Spencer Interprofessional Prizes.

Practicality Prize: The American University team’s solution, Empower and Ab8, sought to use community health workers and a mobile medical trailer to provide blood lead screening paired with policy advocacy and a partnership with landlords to mitigate and prevent lead exposure among children being raised by single mothers.  (Team members: Abhishek Patel, Laurel Booth, Diane Kim, Shyheim Snead, Maile Young)

Interprofessional Prize: The Georgetown University team’s Project Resilience was designed to deploy community health workers and political and legal action to address early childhood exposures to lead while at the same time avoiding family displacement and instability. (Team members: Caroline King, Noah Martin, Prakesha Mathur, Emily Shaffer, Katelyn Shahbazian, Matthew Simmons)

Interprofessional Prize: The George Washington University team’s Brain Project aimed to use a federally qualified health center as the entry point for community ambassadors to help link vulnerable families to community services and in-home coaching, while also working at the policy level for primary prevention. (Team members: Amali Gunawardana, Lauren Hunter Naples, Nehath Sheriff, Heather Walter, Gaby Witte, Jordan Wolfe)

The 2017 panel of judges were:


Additional information about the D.C. Public Health Case Challenge can be found at https://nam.edu/initiatives/dc-public-health-case-challenge/.

The D.C. Public Health Case Challenge is co-sponsored by the National Academy of Medicine’s Kellogg Health of the Public Fund and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Population Health Improvement, with support from the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education. 

The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine, is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields including health and medicine; the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; and beyond.  It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the nation and the international community.  Through its domestic and global initiatives, the NAM works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy and inspire positive action across sectors.  The NAM collaborates closely with its peer academies and other divisions within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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