Signature Initiatives

In 2013, the university identified five Signature Initiatives for the Rising to the Challenge campaign that span individualized health, the science of learning, the future of cities, the sustainability of water resources, and global health.  Together with the Bloomberg Distinguished Professors, the Signature Initiatives will leverage and strengthen our divisional expertise to create innovative, interdisciplinary solutions for the most critical global issues.

21st Century Cities Initiative



Director: Dr. Kathryn Edin

The 21st Century City (21CC) Initiative is a bold, new endeavor that brings together the civic leadership of Baltimore and the nation’s revitalizing cities with top researchers from across JHU and universities worldwide.  With the goal of catalyzing the potential and confronting the pressing needs of these cities that are poised for renaissance and renewal, 21CC seeks to spark and test innovative solutions to the challenges of creating wealth, expanding opportunity, transforming education, promoting wellbeing and health, strengthening infrastructure, and cultivating the arts.  A core strategic area of focus for the Initiative is to build on existing JHU strengths in urban research by purposefully investing in high-profile faculty.  The university will also recruit a cadre of highly-skilled applied researchers who will work exclusively through the Initiative’s newly-established Center for Data Driven Cities. This center of excellence will aid more than 100 U.S. cities in creating highly effective data infrastructures that will transform the way city governments operate.  Cross-disciplinary research, engagement with Baltimore and other revitalizing metropolitan areas, and on-the-ground initiatives to improve the wellbeing and life chances of all citizens of the 21st Century City will be hallmarks of this Initiative.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors: 

Recent Press:

See the 21st Century Cities website for more information.


The Global Health Institute



Director: Dr. Tom Quinn

The Johns Hopkins Global Health Institute is a new approach to solving the massive challenges global health presents today. The Initiative is focusing on several key areas:  non-communicable diseases, injuries, infectious diseases, nutrition (food and food security), and the health of women and children.  To take on these problems, the institute is bringing together a wide variety of faculty members and students from public health, medicine, nursing, engineering, economics, and public policy to expand the scope of their research, implement life-saving solutions, and prepare future global health leaders to solve critical problems.  On an unprecedented scale, the Institute is establishing an intensive multidisciplinary “solutions pipeline” and is investing in educational opportunities for students here and abroad at levels that will lead the world. 

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors:

Recent Press:

See the Global Health website for more information.


Individualized Health Initiative (Hopkins inHealth)



Director: Dr. Scott Zeger

The Johns Hopkins Individualized Health Initiative (Hopkins inHealth) seeks to promote and encourage innovative collaborations to make world-class, affordable health care a reality for the 21st century.  With collaborations across the University, Hospital and Health System, and Applied Physics Laboratory, Hopkins inHealth is improving individual and population health outcomes through scientific advances at the interface of biomedical and data science.  Physicians, scientists, engineers, and information experts are helping doctors customize medical decision-making for each patient by connecting and analyzing huge databases containing information from electronic health records, DNA sequences, RNA expression levels, protein structures, and high-tech images. Through these efforts, Hopkins inHealth seeks to usher in a new era of medical practice where disease prevention, detection, and treatment plans are tailored to every individual’s unique circumstances.

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors:

Recent Press:

See the Hopkins inHealth website for more information.


The Science of Learning Institute



Director: Dr. Barbara Landau

The Science of Learning Institute (SLI) seeks to connect more than 500 scholars from the cognitive and brain sciences, education, engineering, medicine, arts, and other disciplines to create an integrated understanding of learning, focusing on a range of content domains including language, memory, attention, spatial understanding, and decision- making.  For example, SLI is investigating how learning varies as a function of basic learner characteristics, how these characteristics interact with different environments and learning settings to produce variation in learning outcomes, and how interactions with intelligent artificial learning systems can enhance and optimize human learning.  The institute has funded more than a dozen cross-disciplinary research endeavors to better understand how learning occurs in humans, animals, and machines, and is using those findings to provide insights into how learning can be optimized for all individuals across the lifespan and across different kinds of talent. 

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors:

Recent Press:

See the Science of Learning website for more information.


The Johns Hopkins Water Institute



Director: Dr. Kellogg Schwab

The Johns Hopkins Water Institute is a major university-wide effort in water-related research, education, technology development, health and disaster response programs, and policy in order to provide the quality and quantity of water needed to sustain the health of mankind and the environment.  The JHU Water Institute is addressing challenges in six broad themes through research: Water and Health, Water in the Environment, Water Security and Resiliency, Water and Agriculture, Water and Energy, and Water Infrastructure.  Engaging renowned faculty members across the institution, the Institute is working to protect our most precious natural resource by recruiting and supporting faculty leaders, educating the next generation of water experts, funding research that transforms and saves lives, and disseminating knowledge through publications, media outreach, and high profile public activities. 

Bloomberg Distinguished Professors:

Recent Press:

See the JHU Water website for more information.