Frequently Asked Questions

We've compiled a list of common questions about the Alliance for a Healthier World. Below you'll find answers to following topics:

  • Overview - the Alliance, its mission, approach and partners

  • Healthier World Challenge Grants

  • Global Health Equity Scholars Program


What is “equity”?

Equity in relation to health is about the fair achievement and capability for good health, and not simply the equal distribution of health care. Health equity is a multidimensional concept that is a central concern of social equity and justice – it cannot be viewed in isolation. See Sen (2002). Equity is shaped by a number of individual, social, and environmental factors, including where you live, disparate treatment based on race or gender, governmental or institutional policies, etc.

Learn more about these determinants of health here.  

Why the focus on health equity and not other areas?

Inequities in the social determinants of health – including socioeconomic status, education, the physical environment, employment, and social support networks – have wide-ranging effects on people’s health and survival. [Marmot M. et al. (2008). Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health. Lancet 372(9650):1661–1669] 

Growing inequities in health, both between and within countries, threaten the community development gains made over the past decades. Health equity is tied to economic and social equity, which contributes to stable, just societies. Learn more about health equity here.

What areas of global health are your focus?

We’ve identified four priority areas that lend themselves to multidisciplinary solutions due to their complexity and overlap with many areas of health and social justice:

  • Food and Nutrition Security;

  • Health Environments;

  • Gender Equity and Justice, and

  • Transformative Technologies and Institutions

You can read more about the thematic areas here.

What are the root causes of global health problems?

  • Poverty, lack of education and employment opportunity, gender inequality, discrimination, and human rights violations threaten the health and well-being of millions.

  • Mega-cities are expanding explosively; diet change, unhealthy air, water, and housing, poor infrastructure, and violence are the new urban health challenges.

  • Weak public institutions and failing health markets lead to growing health inequality, counterfeit medicines, and drug resistance.

  • Trends in aging, obesity, non-communicable diseases, and injuries are outpacing the changes needed in prevention, treatment, and financing of health care, while millions of poor people remain vulnerable to under-nutrition and infectious diseases.

Why focus on low- and middle-income countries?

Health inequities are linked to complex and seemingly intractable social problems. These challenges are particularly demanding when occurring in the most difficult institutional and resource-constrained contexts, and where involvement of numerous inter-dependent sectors and stakeholders is needed.

Many low and middle-income countries do not yet possess a full suite of robust economic, technological, infrastructure, communications, and social resources to tackle health inequities. To achieve success in nations where such advantages do not exist, we must build solutions that not only solve medical problems but also compensate for resource deficiencies. This means working closely with communities experiencing the challenges, and using innovative, multidisciplinary, scalable approaches, devised and implemented by people specially trained and supported to do so.

Example - To help nations lacking appropriate resources, we need biomedical engineers to design new diagnostic devices; business thinkers to create new models for low-cost device production and distribution; social and political strategists to help nations foster widespread acceptance in communities; and health educators and communicators to help local partners achieve successful adoption.

What do you do? How does it really work?

Building on the proven track record laid by JHU Divisions, the Alliance for a Healthier World supports dynamic collaboration among multiple disciplinary teams of faculty, students, partners and local communities by providing a range of opportunities to stimulate, foster and build skills for working together more effectively. Opportunities include:

  • Grants Program (research grants to catalyze new knowledge and innovative solutions)

  • Global Health Scholars (incubator program for students)

  • Collaborative Activities & Services (events, online platforms, learning resource library)

  • Creative strategic communications (research translation to engage beyond JHU)

So many organizations have “global health” initiatives. How are you different?

We’re different because of the breadth and depth of experience we bring to the table.

  • Spanning 11 distinct divisions and home to the first school of public health and the first formal department of international health, Johns Hopkins University has pioneered the field of global health research and education to address health problems of disadvantaged populations.

  • We have discovered, tested, and supported a wide range of low-cost, highly effective solutions, such as oral rehydration salts to prevent diarrheal deaths.

  • We have also developed deep insights about the different dimensions of disadvantage in populations around the world, and on the social, political, economic, and physical and biological constraints and opportunities for good health.

This long history of innovation and wealth of knowledge from multiple disciplines make us uniquely positioned to tackle complex problems of health equity.

Where is your money coming from?

The founding of our Alliance is supported by funds from the JHU Office of the President and generous supporters who donated to the Rising to the Challenge campaign. To make a gift to support AHW’s continued collaborative research and innovation, visit Make a Gift to explore options 

My organization is interested in getting involved with the Alliance for a Healthier World – how can we do that?

To take on the enormous challenges of improving health equity throughout the world, we seek the support of generous people and innovation organizations who share our dedication.

We invite you to join us as a vital partner in achieving the life changing possibilities we envision. See our Get Involved page to find out more ways you can connect. Please see our make a gift section to support AHW’s continued efforts to produce new research and innovations to fill the gap around unresolved global health challenges.

FAQ - the healthier world challenge GRANTS

What is a Co-PI and who can be one?

A Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) is a faculty or staff member who is responsible for conceptualizing and leading a research project in coordination with a team of other Co-PIs. This role is similar to that of a Principal Investigator (PI), but is held by multiple individuals where responsibilities are shared equally, instead of one person. Each team will have at least two Co-PIs, though you can have more.

Any full-time faculty or staff member who is eligible to serve as PI for a grant in their division can be a Co-PI. This includes junior faculty members, and staff in APL.

Who are considered “partners”?

Partners may include community members, community-based or non-profit organizations, private-sector corporations, community leaders, advocates, government agencies, or other academics that are active in the area of interest.

What do the teams look like?

We encourage you to be diverse and creative when constructing your teams. Each team is required to have Co-PIs from at least one health sciences division, and one non-health science division. More diverse collaborations and applications from junior faculty/staff are encouraged.Applicant teams must include a minimum of two enrolled students and demonstrate how they will play an active role in the project. Note that students cannot be used to fulfill the multidisciplinary requirement.

The scope of health equity is very broad. What projects will you fund?

While our four themes have been identified as priority areas, the Alliance for a Healthier World recognizes that there are many complex problems that lie outside these topic areas. We invite all submissions that harness multiple disciplinary approaches to achieve health equity across the world. We particularly encourage teams to consider addressing one of the cross-cutting approaches that AHW champions.

Am I allowed to submit multiple applications?

Yes, you can be a co-PI on multiple applications or grant types (i.e. you can serve as the co-PI for both a Launchpad and Impact grant proposal). Projects must be substantially different. If you have questions, contact the program manager (

What do I need to include in my letter of support?

We request a letter of support that states the Co-PI will be affiliated with Johns Hopkins University for the duration of the grant. The letter needs to be signed by the Chair of the Co-PI’s department OR Dean of the school/division.

For Launchpad grants, the application says I need to “demonstrate potential impact and/or innovation.” What if we are just starting and don’t have data?

We recognize not all applications will have data and some may be in early “ideation” stages – if that’s the case, explain to us how you think your idea will promote health equity! We are looking for projects that are thoughtful, well-articulated, and have potential for larger success.

What are the required results?

At the end of the Launchpad grant period, recipients are expected to submit to the AHW either a brief summary of outcomes and information about proposals resulting from the Launchpad grant activities.

Recipients are also expected to produce a brief report summarizing their collaboration activities and complete a short survey to provide information for future cycles.

During the Impact grant period, recipients will be expected to submit:

  • brief interim (6-month) progress & financial reports as well as final reports that outline the project’s accomplishments, including impacts on policy and plans for continuation of the research through applied for or received external funding, and a summary of use of grant funds at project completion;

  • copies of working papers/publications, policy briefs, or other deliverables identified in agreement with AHW resulting from the funded project for posting, and within 12 to 18 months of the award;

  • notify AHW of specific outcomes from the project (e.g., publications, further collaborations, further research funding, awards, legislative or policy actions, etc.).

How long do I have to spend the money?

For the Launchpad grants, you have up to five months from the award date to spend the funds.

For the Impact grants, you have up to three years from the award date to spend the funds.

Can I use this money for salary support?

Yes. We have removed all salary spending restrictions for both Launchpad and Impact grants. For Launchpad applications, this means that any faculty or staff member (at JHU or external) can use the grant to cover a percentage of her/his/their salary. For Impact applications, this means there is no cap on faculty or staff salary (at JHU or external). Students, consultants, and partners are allowed to charge salary.

Do you charge indirect costs?

No indirect costs are charged, as this is an internal JHU grant.

Do I need to have ethical (i.e. IRB) approval?

It is the responsibility of the Co-PIs to ensure that the project meets ethical standards if required, and that all team members comply with these practices. Funds will not be transferred without proof of IRB approval.

Q&A from the East Baltimore Virtual Session
July 9, 2019:

Q: Will this presentation be available later?

A: Yes. This session will be recorded and archived to the AHW website.

Q: Could you clarify a bit more about the salary cap for faculty and staff, if that is something that has been decided yet?

A: Caps for this cycle have not yet been decided. In previous cycles, the cap for the Impact grant was 10%. Once the amount has been confirmed, our website will be updated with the terms.

Q: Can you resubmit an impact proposal if it is not selected for funding?

A: non-funded proposals from previous cycles can be submitted. Please consider the feedback from previous reviews when submitting your proposal for new cycles.

Q: Is the match process with non-sciences faculty available for the Impact Grant? Or are we expected to team up with non-sciences faculty beforehand? My project has three co-PIs from the Schools of Medicine, Public Health and Engineering.

A: The match process is available for the Impact grants. If you are interested in learning more about the process and participation, please click here. If you have additional questions about the matching process, please contact Nina Martin ( or Ashley Boston (

Q: Where is the link for the matching process for faculty located?

A: Click here

Q: What are the levels of specificity for disadvantaged populations that need to be included on the proposal?

A: We want to give teams flexibility in defining their interactions with the community. Within this broad spectrum, we would like to see proposals that identify specific inequities versus a generalized approach. Ex: people of Ghana vs those that may belong to a disadvantaged group (i.e. gender minority, geographic location, racial minority, etc.).

Q: Does effecting change through the project require an RCT or other intervention models accepted?

A: We do not specify methodology. You can provide an RCT or any other model that you see exemplifies change. We also accept more broader definitions depending on how your team would like to show that change has happened. We will accept assessments, RCTs, and other models as your team defines.

FAQ - Global Health Equity Scholars Program


Q.  Is the GHES program open to only graduate and undergraduate students?

Scholars must be full-time students (graduate or undergraduate) who are present at a US-based Johns Hopkins University school or division. Students planning on taking a study abroad or other full-time ventures off the primary JHU campuses during the current academic year are not eligible to apply. Scholars may be undergraduate or graduate students but may not be current freshmen.

Q. Can an applicant be an online student? I am not based in Baltimore - could I do the work via an online format?

Unfortunately, no. Scholars need to be full-time JHU students who are present at a US-based Johns Hopkins University school or division. Due to the nature of duties and interactions required, scholars must be available in person. Students planning on taking a study abroad or other full-time ventures off the primary JHU campuses during the current academic year are not eligible to apply. 

Q. I would love to apply, but I am currently a part-time student. Would I still be eligible to apply for this scholarship?

Unfortunately, no. Scholars need to be full-time JHU students who are present at a US-based Johns Hopkins University school or division. Students planning on taking a study abroad or other full-time ventures off the primary JHU campuses during the current academic year are not eligible to apply.


Q. When will the final scholar candidates be selected and what is the start date of this one-year program?

Applications are due by 11:59pm on Thursday, September 19, 2019. Scholars will be announced in early October. Scholars will be announced in early October. All scholars should be on campus by October 14, 2019, and will attend a mandatory program orientation in late October or early November.

Q.  I am very interested in applying for the GHES program, but won't be on campus until the 2nd fall term (mid-October) - would this be acceptable?

All scholars should be on campus by October 14, 2019 and will attend a mandatory program orientation in late October/early November. If you will be in Baltimore at that time, you are eligible to apply.Q.  I will not able to attend JHU on campus this fall but will be on campus in 2018 spring – am I still eligible to apply?

Q. I will not able to attend JHU on campus this fall but will be on campus in 2020 spring – am I still eligible to apply?

Scholars need to be full-time JHU students who are present at a US-based Johns Hopkins University school or division. All scholars should be on campus by October 14, 2019, and will attend a mandatory program orientation in late October/early November. If you will be in Baltimore by that time, you are eligible to apply.


Q: Are official transcripts required?

Unofficial transcripts are accepted. You may submit multiple transcripts if desired. The submitted transcripts should reflect your coursework and experiences that will best speak to your interests and skills to complete the specified work. If you are submitting multiple transcripts, please upload them as one single PDF.

Q. If I’m a new student starting this fall (thus have no JHU transcripts yet) what should I submit for transcripts?

Please submit your most recent transcripts; high school, undergraduate or graduate transcripts are acceptable. If you are submitting multiple transcripts, please upload documents as one single PDF. 

Q. What type of references would be most appropriate to provide? Should I ask previous supervisors, professors, colleagues, or character references? 

We are leaving the selection of references up to you. Think about the job description and who in your life can best speak to your capacity to serve as a GHE scholar.

 Q. What is expected of the people I list as references? Do they need to write a letter of some kind?

Your listed references don’t need to write letters. If needed, we will call or email them and ask a series of questions.


Q. I have a very different schedule than many of my peers -  would individual scholars have flexibility with their assigned duties?

Duties will be tailored to each scholar but we do expect an average commitment of 10 hrs. each week. Note that students are limited to working 19 hours per week across all jobs during the academic year, so please consider this if you hold additional employment. Work schedules will be arranged on a case by case basis but it will be important for scholars to plan, execute, and attend a number of events.


Q. How does the financial payment for this program work?

Scholars will be paid an hourly wage for their work based on student status (i.e. undergraduate, master’s, doctoral) and number of hours worked each week. Some students funded by specific forms of financial aid may not be able to receive hourly wages. Please check with your program’s financial administrator if you are eligible before applying.

Q. Are there any links to the previous projects that scholars worked on?

Highlights of scholars' accomplishments are viewable here.

Q.  Do I need to have a background of on-site global health working experiences? 

No, not necessarily.  We’re looking for a team of scholars who, collectively, offer diverse experiences and technical abilities to support the Alliance’s mission of addressing global health equity. Students should have an interest and some basic understanding of global health, but prior experience is not necessary.