Arizona State University is set to embark on a new health initiative, thanks in part to a $10-million grant from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

"We have learned through the years that the way to make things happen is to break down barriers within the institution, come up with new perspectives, and work towards a new goal," ASU president Michael Crow said last Thursday. "In this case, the new goal is health outcomes."

The investment will take place over a five-year period and will help fund projects in institutions such as the ASU School of Biomedical Informatics, the ASU Health Outcomes Network, and the Arizona Obesity Initiative.

Dr. Judy Mohraz, president and chief executive officer of the Piper Trust, believes that founder Virginia G. Piper would have strongly supported this particular investment.

"The watch word for American philanthropy today is not ‘dollars,' it is ‘impact,'" Mohraz said. "It will make a difference in this community, it will build new knowledge, and it will bring catalytic approaches to some of the hardest problems the nation faces."

One major issue that the initiative will address is that of obesity, which affects nearly one of every four children in Arizona, according to Mohraz.

The ASU School of Nutrition and Health Promotion will be working to fight this problem by sending out hundreds of student interns into the community to help teach both children and teenagers about living a healthier lifestyle.

The university will also be working closely with the Mayo Clinic to further health education, according to executive vice president Elizabeth D. Capaldi.

"We all know what we're supposed to eat, it is getting people to actually eat it," Capaldi said. "We are trying to bring together a huge university to make a huge difference."

Nick Prete, an ASU sophomore who was in attendance for the announcement last week, has high hopes for the investment.

"I think the new health care initiative has noble aspirations," Prete said. "These funds will help our school grow and should put a fire in the health of students here at ASU to create some results."

Crow expressed his gratitude to the Piper Trust and is anxious to see the change the university can bring to the area.

"This is a fantastic way for us to move forward," Crow said. "It is an intellectual catalyst fund, which allows us to do new things."

To learn more about the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, visit their website at www.pipertrust.org.

Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.

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