Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health has announced a gift of more than HK$162 million ($21 million) from the Lee Kum Kee family to fund research on the links between psychological well-being and physical health.
The Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness will work to advance discoveries that can inform personal behaviors, medical care, public health programs, and public policies not traditionally associated with health care and medicine. To that end, it will support the identification of psychological, social, and emotional strengths and assets that may protect against disease and enable people to enjoy longer, happier, and healthier lives.
The center will use the gift to broaden the focus of medical and public health research to include positive aspects of health and illuminate factors that promote the attainment of high levels of well-being and protect against conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Initial efforts will focus on several areas, including identifying and developing a measurable instrument — a positive psychological "happiness index" — that can assess psychological well-being in a systematic and scientifically sound manner; understanding the relationship between psychological well-being and cardiovascular health, healthy aging, and longevity; determining the effects of interventions promoting psychological well-being on health and happiness; and examining the role of communications, ranging from television programming to social media, on engagement, health, and happiness.
"By leveraging what is known together with new research discoveries, we believe the new center will develop evidence-based recommendations and interventions that can demonstrably improve the health and well-being of individuals and entire populations," said David Hunter, acting dean of the Harvard Chan School. "Our goal is to bring about enlightened public policies and public health programs that can affect the health of large numbers of people, as well as set new priorities in medical practice and personal behaviors that can help individuals live longer, healthier lives."