Dr. Jose Szapocznik Speaks at Prestigious Fundacion Euroamerica Meeting

Jose Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and Chair of Public Health Sciences and Director of the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute, delivered a presentation on health and research innovation at the prestigious, second annual Fundacion Euroamerica meeting in Miami.

Attracting nearly 1,000 local and international professionals and dignitaries, the May 15-16 meeting — organized by the Madrid-based Fundacion Euroamerica — fosters greater interchange between the U.S. and the European Union in industries ranging from free trade agreements to scientific collaboration and health.

Szapocznik talked about the strengths and weaknesses of health systems in the U.S., which included findings from the Institute of Medicine’s 2013 report “U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health.” The report revealed that compared with 17 developed peer countries, the U.S. has one of the highest mortality rates among people ages 0-70, has a scarcity of general medical practitioners, and lags in access to healthcare.

Szapocznik also highlighted where the U.S. excels, celebrating the extraordinary advanced treatments built on solid basic science discoveries — such as regenerative programs in the University of Miami’s UHealth system in the areas of heart, spinal cord regeneration, and development of biologic hubs for the production of insulin in type I diabetics.

“The U.S. is a leader in making advanced treatments available to those who can afford them. On the other hand, developed countries have much to teach us about health systems that improve the health of entire nations,” said Szapocznik, noting that the U.S. health expenditure of $2.7 trillion a year is the size of France’s entire GDP. France, with much better indices of health than the U.S., spends only 11 percent of its GDP on healthcare, while the U.S. spends 18 percent.

“Health costs in the U.S. are unsustainable, as is our poor showing in health relative to the large size of our investment,” said Szapocznik, who is also a professor of architecture, psychology, and counseling psychology and educational research. “One major difference is that other developed countries make primary care more accessible and spend more in social programs, both of which are believed to improve their nations’ overall health performance and reduce their healthcare costs.”

Szapocznik also discussed recent National Institutes of Health initiatives, including the establishment of the NIH Consortium of 62 Clinical and Translational Science Awards — such as the $20 million grant that funded the creation of the Miami CTSI.

The consortium aims to accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into prevention strategies and clinical treatments, which Szapocznik said represents the first systematic change to clinical research in five decades.

Szapocznik co-presented with Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong, M.D., who discussed the state’s initiative to promote cancer research and NIH cancer designation for major cancer centers.

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