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

Overview - the Alliance for a Healthier World

What is the Alliance for a Healthier World?

The Alliance for a Healthier World is one of four Signature Initiatives established by Johns Hopkins University to stimulate and strengthen university-wide collaboration. It integrates expertise and diverse perspectives to unlock groundbreaking knowledge addressing unresolved global health challenges. The alliance serves as an collaborative ecosystem to stimulate and support university-wide innovation around healthy equity via multidisciplinary events, funding grants, mentorship and strategic communication that bring the Hopkins community together. Experts from medicine, nursing, public health, international relations, engineering, education, business, the social sciences, creative arts and bioethics work side by side with partners and disadvantaged communities around the world.

  • Our vision is to bring together faculty and students from across Johns Hopkins University, along with our partners around the world, to unleash the full range of scientific, analytic, and creative capabilities to promote global health equity.
  • The Alliance is led by David Peters, Chair of the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and is advised by a steering committee composed of representatives from the 11 Divisions of Hopkins. You can find a link to more about who and what we are here.LINK

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 PI and who can be one?

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

    Who can be a co-PI and what are their responsibilities?

    A co-PI must be full-time, tenure track (including instructors), research, or emeriti faculty at Johns Hopkins University. While the PI has the ultimate responsibility to lead the project, a co-PI is a research team member who will be making a significant contribution to the project and will share leadership responsibilities with the PI.

    Who are considered “partners”?

    Partners may include government agencies, community-based or non-profit organizations, private-sector corporations, or community leaders or advocates, 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 should have representation from at least one of the health sciences schools or entities, and at least one from the other Divisions and Schools. 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.

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

    While the four themes described earlier 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.

    Am I allowed to submit multiple applications?

    You can only be a PI or co-PI on one project, however, you may serve on the research team of other projects, as long as you are not the project lead.

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

    We request a letter of support that states the 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 PI’s department or Dean of the school/division.

    Can I apply to both planning grant cycles?

    Yes, but we will not consider applicants who have been awarded a grant in the first cycle without submission of the required reporting documents (see the detailed RFA documents, available to download here)

    For planning 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 pursue health equity! We are looking for projects that are thoughtful and have potential for larger success.

    What are the required results?

    At the end of the planning grant period, grant recipients are expected to submit to the AHW either:

    • a copy of their proposal resulting from activities supported by the Planning Grant that will be submitted for a subsequent Implementation Grant (Scenario A) OR
    • a copy of their proposal resulting from activities supported by the Planning Grant that will be submitted to an external funder (Scenario B) OR
    • a brief report describing “lessons learned” if not submitting for additional funding (Scenario C)

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

    At the end of the implementation 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 planning grants, you have up to four months from the award date to spend the funds.  
    For the implementation grants, you have up to 3 years from the award date to spend the funds.

    Can I use this money for salary support?

    Planning grant funds in general are not to be used to support the salary of full-time faculty. Funds can be used to support student or consultant (or partner) salaries.

    Do you charge indirect costs?

    No, no indirect costs are charged for internal JHU grants

    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 Monday, September 17, 2018. Scholars will be announced in early October. All scholars should be on campus by October 15, 2018 and will attend a mandatory program orientation in October.

    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 15, 2018 and will attend a mandatory program orientation in October. 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?

    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 15, 2018 and will attend a mandatory program orientation in October. If you will be in Baltimore at that time, you are eligible to apply.


    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. 

    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 referees don’t need to write a letter – we will likely 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 ADD LINK

    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.