Jane Isaacs Lowe, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

TITLE: Senior Adviser for Program Development

FUNDING AREAS: Vulnerable populations, global health

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: For Lowe, it's important that projects address the underlying social and economic causes of poor health.

PROFILE: For Jane Isaacs Lowe, good health isn't primarily about access to doctors or medicine. Rather, it's about having the fundamental resources—such as reliable housing, nourishing food, and a sound emotional environment—that allow a person to more easily choose a healthy lifestyle. As Lowe explains in an article she wrote for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity:

Being healthy has as much, if not more, to do with our social circumstances—where we live, learn, work, and play—than our access to medical care. And if you're vulnerable, it often means you don't have the same kinds of opportunities to make healthy decisions as others. What opportunities you do have may be undermined by poor education, inadequate housing, low income, stress, or violence.

Recognizing the importance of such social influences on health, the scenarios we analyzed looked at a range of factors ranging from education and technology to food, cultural shifts, and crime.

Profound stuff, this. It's also an important foundation for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Before joining up with RWJF, Lowe was a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work. She continues to bring an academic approach to the public health field, writing and speaking frequently about how research and policy can improve the state of American wellness. Her recent work includes:

  • An article for Education Week on how crucial children's emotional health is to school performance, calling for more partnerships among health and education professionals
  • A summary of Lowe's September 2012 talk at a conference on the social determinants of urban mental health
  • An article for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity (quoted above) on how several future potential economic and policy scenarios might influence the fate, and health, of America's poor

Here's her full bio on RWJF's website:

Jane Isaacs Lowe, PhD, is a senior adviser for program development at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who focuses on the Foundations work to create new opportunities for better health for society's most vulnerable members by investing in health where it starts—where we live, learn, work, and play. In this role, Lowe works on strategies related to community development and the social determinants of health, violence, and mental health. In addition, she is a member of the Foundation’s Global Health Working Group. She views the her role as catalyzing new ways of addressing long-standing health issues, building partnerships and driving social change to improve the health of children, families and communities.

Lowe came to the Foundation from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work where she was a member of the faculty from 1989 through 1998. She taught and published in the areas of community health practice, administration, and planning, and was the recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award. Earlier in her career, she worked at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City where she was a social work administrator and faculty member in the medical school's Department of Community Medicine.

Lowe earned a doctorate in social welfare policy and planning from Rutgers University, a master’s in social work from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and education from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa., where she is a member of the board of trustees. She is a current fellow at the New York Academy of Medicine.


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