Letter from the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

As you will see in this report, the second year of COVID was a remarkably productive one. Our ability to accomplish so much, especially while working remotely, speaks volumes about the talent and commitment of the more than three hundred people who comprise the Institute. These contributions, at every level, highlight the value of scholarship embedded in a health plan.

Those in our line of work aim to make change. As the nation’s first medical school appointing department based in a health plan, we see it as our responsibility to understand the impact of ongoing and emerging issues on the health plan’s members and on society and to produce real world evidence that drives changes to improve health and equity.

As rapidly evolving COVID-19 variants challenged what we thought we knew, we kept pace, producing scholarship that strengthened the knowledge base even as new strains emerged (see page 8). Our increased attention to health equity began to bear fruit and promises to be especially productive in the future. For more on our commitment to reducing health disparities, see page 13. Maintaining focus on the many problems we wrestled with before COVID-19 emerged also remains mission-critical, and we continue to produce in areas like precision medicine, lifecourse, surveillance, and more (see page 17).

Of course, there are key resources that make our work possible. The fact that so many major federal funders of research — National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute —  support our work is further confirmation of the value of our work to society as a whole.

As for sharing this knowledge, our faculty’s ability to adjust curriculum–in format, scope, and subject–highlights their dedication to training the next generation of population health researchers, clinicians, and educators. For more on that, see page 24. Their expertise and bodies of work also attracted numerous trainees; we are lucky to call some new permanent colleagues; others, lifelong  collaborators (see page 28). 

As we look toward returning to in-person collaboration, we reflect back on a year distinctive for highlighting what we do best: harness our collective talents to focus on the greater good.


Richard Platt
Professor and Chair, Department of Population Medicine
President, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute