Health Innovation at Yale

A new academic program that encourages public health advances by harnessing the power of entrepreneurship is launching at the Yale School of Public Health.

InnovateHealth Yale (IHY) will prepare students to solve some of the pressing health challenges of the 21st century through the creation of organizations, enterprises and improved products that measurably prevent disease and promote better global health. 

“We believe that social entrepreneurship can be taught and the best students are those with a passion for change, a willingness to encounter risk, and a vision,” said Martin Klein, Ph.D., the program’s director and associate dean for development and external affairs. Klein outlined the program recently to dozens of interested students from throughout the university.

The School of Public Health will partner with other schools and organizations on campus to fully leverage all of Yale’s resources and expertise.

Beginning in the spring of 2014, InnovateHealth Yale will offer the Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health, and award $25,000 to the best student-led venture on a social innovation in health.

In 2015, IHY will offer a course in health innovation, co-taught by the schools of public health and management, and in partnership with the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation. In addition, beginning the 2013-2014 academic year, IHY will support summer internships in social enterprises and bring to campus successful social entrepreneurs in health.

Health innovation has a strong history at the School of Public Health; a number of faculty, alumni and students have created solutions to persistent health problems around the world. Some recent examples include: 

  • Louis Fazen, a doctoral candidate, is part of an international team of researchers that was awarded a $250,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a project that uses smartphones to reduce infant and maternal mortality in Kenya. The group trained community health extension workers in conducting surveys on the mobile phone and to troubleshoot issues as they arise.
  • YSPH Professor Susan T. Mayne, Ph.D., helped to develop a device that uses resonance Raman spectroscopy to measure nutritional biomarkers by simply, and painlessly, applying blue laser light to the palm of the hand. The device can be used to determine whether children, among others, have healthy diets.
  • An alumna, Ariane Kirtley, MPH ’04, is the founder and director of the international non-governmental organization Amman Imman: Water Is Life. The organization builds clean and sustainable water sources; provides food security; and supports educational, environmental and health initiatives among some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. It is currently operating in the Azawak region of Niger, where up to 50 percent of children die before their fifth birthday.

Dean Paul D. Cleary said that such creative thinking is crucial to improving public health in the future.

“Many of the pressing public health challenges we face, both domestically and abroad, require collaboration among individuals from different disciplines and innovative problem solving,” Cleary said. “Training individuals to think about entrepreneurial approaches to health problems in an interdisciplinary way will be key to addressing the most difficult health problems of our time and into the future.”

Yale student Alyssa Moore said that the new program will foster collaboration among students while providing necessary support as they develop and implement ideas to improve health.

“Personally, I am excited to see issues in global entrepreneurship tackled,” said Moore, who is in the five-year joint BA/MPH program at Yale. “There are some great innovations emerging in the field of nutrition detection and hospital food service systems that I know can be kicked into high-gear with some inspired student minds behind it!”

For more information on InnovateHealth Yale, visit:




This article was submitted by Denise Meyer on November 11, 2013.