Why invest in health evidence? Q&A with Chris Murray of IHME

By Catherine Cheney 20 February 2017

Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Photo by: IHME

Chris Murray, professor of global health at the University of Washington and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, first met Bill Gates when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was just getting started.

“Bill’s hunger for data and evidence and science is uniquely high,” Murray told Devex at a recent event celebrating the 10 year anniversary of IHME and a number of other Seattle global health organizations. “He really does just love information.”

When the Gates Foundation launched in 2000, Murray was at the World Health Organization, where he was a founder of the Global Burden of Disease approach. That caught the attention of the Seattle-based philanthropists, who decided early on that they wanted to use GBD metrics to help set their own priorities, as they built what is now the largest charitable foundation in the world. In 2007, Murray returned to Seattle, this time to pitch the idea for IHME, which would provide an evidence-based picture of global health to inform the kind of data-driven work the foundation is now known for.

“They took a gamble on the idea,” he said. “And it worked out.”

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About the author

Catherine cheney devex
Catherine Cheneycatherinecheney

Catherine Cheney covers the West Coast global development community for Devex. Since graduating from Yale University, where she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in political science, Catherine has worked as a reporter and editor for a range of publications including World Politics Review, POLITICO, and NationSwell, a media company and membership network she helped to build. She is also an ambassador for the Solutions Journalism Network and the Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute.


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