GlaxoSmithKline Initiates a Multi-City Conversation Focused on Improving the Health of US Communities

"A Conversation on Community Health” Kicks off in Philadelphia to Address Health Challenges and Explore Innovative Solutions
Sep 24, 2012 9:00 AM ET

(3BL Media) September 24, 2012 - GlaxoSmithKline plc [LSE/NYSE: GSK] today launched a national initiative to examine the barriers and identify opportunities to build healthier communities in the United States.  The program kicks off with “A Conversation on Community Health,” hosted by The Atlantic, in Philadelphia at WHYY studios. This is the first of three events taking place in US cities to explore what it means, and what it takes, to be a healthy community.

GSK is underwriting the events to identify innovative and practical community-based collaborations with health organizations, public officials, advocates and citizens that will inform a new approach to improving health at the local level. Insights gained through the series of local discussions will help shape the future strategic direction for GSK’s community programs and local engagement in the US.

“In 2011, GSK set out to understand how we can work more effectively in the communities where we live and serve patients, and to answer the question: ‘What can GSK do to be a better health partner?’” said Deirdre Connelly, President, North America Pharmaceuticals at GlaxoSmithKline. “As we embark on a new era of healthcare in the United States, we have an opportunity to build upon the national momentum not only to expand access to healthcare, but to develop innovative approaches, uncover new ideas, and rethink incentives for improving the health of the community as a whole.”

As a first step, today The Atlantic will convene an expert working summit of some of the region’s top minds in the fields of medicine, public health, academia, government, business and philanthropy to examine the broader factors that influence health in Philadelphia. The group will also share examples of approaches across the city that are successfully overcoming systemic barriers to better outcomes. 

A town hall meeting immediately following the working summit will feature discussions with prominent speakers such as entertainer and activist Dr. Bill Cosby; Dr. Alvin Poussaint, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; Dr. Irwin Redlener, president and co-founder of the Children's Health Fund; Diane Cornman-Levy, executive director, Federation of Neighborhood Centers; Sarah Martinez-Helfman, executive director of the Eagles Youth Partnership; and Dr. Robert Simmons, director of the Masters of Public Health Program at the Jefferson School of Population Health.

These discussions will challenge conventional thinking about what it means to be a healthy community, and get participants to think more broadly about issues affecting their city. 

The United States spends more per capita on health care than any other nation, but there are large disparities in health outcomes in relation to race, community of residence, and individual and community socioeconomic factors. Some American communities are falling behind the best performing nations in life expectancy, while rates of obesity, asthma and other diseases continue to rise.1

The Philadelphia area, home to approximately 5,000 GSK employees, is a natural choice for the first stop in this multi-city program due to its significant health challenges. Two-thirds of adults and 40 percent of children in Philadelphia are overweight or obese. One quarter of adults in the city smoke, and smoking-related complications are a leading cause of death.2,3   The number of residents with chronic health conditions — such as high blood pressure and diabetes — increased over the past decade and remains significantly higher than the national average.4

These problems persist in spite of the vibrant life sciences industry, leading academic and medical institutions and community-based non-profit and city efforts that have demonstrated real success. 

Additional information about “A Conversation on Community Health,” hosted by The Atlantic - The Philadelphia town hall will be available via live stream from 3 – 5 pm ET on Monday, September 24 at

Over the course of the three city program, The Atlantic will be exploring the many facets of community health through an ongoing special report available at

Join the conversation on Twitter @GSKUS or @Atlantic_Live, #HealthyCommunity.

GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.  For further information go to, follow us on or visit our blog (







Sarah Alspach

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Jennifer Armstrong

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1 Kulkarni et al. Population Health Metrics 2011, 9:16

2  City of Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter’s Soda Summit Address, June 7, 2012.

3 Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Tobacco Control Program: 16 July 15, 2009.

4 Pew Research Initiative. Philadelphia 2011 The State of the City. The Pew Charitable Trusts 2011: 51-58. Accessed  Aug. 30, 2012.