The Center for Health and Wellbeing

Monday, Mar 12, 2012

Dedicated to research and teaching on wellbeing, health and health policy

Why are some people healthy while others are not? How can we maintain our health as we age? What public policies are successful at promoting health and wellbeing?

These are some of the questions being addressed at the Center for Health and Wellbeing (CHW). Affiliated with the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, the Center's goals are to understand the factors that contribute to health and wellbeing, to explore how public policies can influence health and quality of life, and to train future leaders in health and health policy.

Research at CHW focuses on the major challenges to health today, including poverty, infectious diseases, economic development, environmental factors and aging in domestic and international settings.

Current research areas include:


  • Adversity and Resilience: The exploration of health and wellbeing during and following traumatic events is being studied at CHW. These events include the study of how low-income parents from New Orleans have coped with the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Infectious Diseases: CHW researchers are studying policies for combating the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, exploring the associated impacts of making available therapies to treat HIV/AIDS in developing countries, and the relationship between the development of autoimmunity and infection susceptibility.
  • Environmental Policy: The quality of one's environment can have significant impacts on health. For example, exposures to harmful substances during gestation or childhood may have negative effects on development as well as conditions such as asthma. Harmful environments often coexist with poor and minority neighborhoods, and research at CHW is exploring how public policies may address or aggravate disparities in environmental justice.
  • Aging: Methods for measuring wellbeing and health and determining how life circumstances contribute to overall quality as we age are the focus of CHW’s Center for Research on Experience and Wellbeing (CREW), a National Institute of Aging (NIA) Edward R. Roybal Center for Translation Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences of Aging. CHW’s Demography of Aging Center, also funded by NIA, studies the interrelationships between socioeconomic status and health as well as the consequences of increased longevity and aging population across and within countries.

CHW collaborates with a number of other research programs on the Princeton University campus:

 Claire Standley.

  • The Global Health Initiative, a research and teaching program coordinated by CHW, focuses on research on global health policy and educates students who will become leaders in the fields of health and health care through a cross-disciplinary approach and hands-on field research.
  • The Health Grand Challenge (HGC), part of the University’s Grand Challenges Program and administered by CHW, is an integrated research and teaching program that seeks solutions to the pressing problems posed by infectious disease around the globe.
  • The Program on U.S. Health Policy, launched by CHW in early 2012, sponsors research and activities addressing aspects of domestic health care and health policy.
  • The State Health Reform Assistance Network (State Network) is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded program dedicated to providing technical assistance to states in order to maximize coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Housed within CHW, the State Network provides technical assistance in ten states.


CHW is dedicated to enhancing the education of students who are training to be leaders in health policy. Undergraduates can earn a certificate in Global Health and Health Policy (GHP); graduate students can obtain a certificate in Health and Health Policy; and the Woodrow Wilson School offers a Master in Public Policy (MPP) for physicians, scientists and lawyers who wish to combine their profession with public policy.  

The director of CHW is Janet Currie, the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University.  “We live in a world in which societies are aging, new threats to health are emerging, and our understanding of both biological and social determinants of health and wellbeing is greater than ever before," says Currie. "CHW is uniquely positioned to bring insights from the hard science and social science together in a way that is relevant for public policy.  As we look to the future, health policy issues will only become more important as we wrestle with the burden of disease in many parts of the world, and as the share of Gross Domestic Product spent on health care approaches 20 percent here at home.  Leaders in health policy will need to have a broad perspective and the research done at CHW will help them to achieve that.”