Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, and a special three-day symposium will celebrate this landmark.

The GBD is the world’s largest systematic, scientific effort to quantify the magnitude of health loss from all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and population. With nearly 2,700 collaborators in more than 130 countries and territories, the study examines 332 diseases and injuries and 84 risk factors. The GBD has helped transform health care policy in numerous countries, and has greatly influenced research, policy, and education.

The GBD study is used by numerous organizations as a primary source of data, information and analysis, including: The World Bank, the World Health Organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

A History of Collaboration
The GBD enterprise dates to the early 1990s, when the World Bank commissioned the original study and featured it in the landmark World Development Report 1993: Investing in Health. Co-authored by Dr. Christopher Murray, who went on to become Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at University of Washington (UW), this GBD study served as the most comprehensive effort up to that point to systematically measure the world’s health problems.

GBD work was initiated at the World Health Organization (WHO), which formed a Disease Burden Unit that continued updating and publishing GBD findings between 1998 and 2008. The next comprehensive GBD update, the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010 (GBD 2010) published new estimates for the complete time series from 1990 to 2010 in The Lancet in seven papers, commentaries, and accompanying extensive web appendices totaling more than 2,300 pages.

While the earlier work had been conducted by researchers at Harvard and the World Health Organization, GBD 2010 brought together a community of nearly 500 experts from around the world in epidemiology, statistics, and other disciplines.

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IHME began to serve as the coordinating center for the international network of GBD contributors to produce comprehensive GBD updates in 2010 and 2013. Since 2015, annual updates of the entire time series of GBD estimates have been produced to provide policymakers, donors, and other decision-makers with the most timely and useful picture of population health.

The GBD’s most recent study shows that while we are making progress in some areas, others present a growing concern. "Our findings indicate people are living longer and, over the past decade, we identified substantial progress in driving down death rates from some of the world's most pernicious diseases and conditions, such as under-age-5 mortality and malaria," said Dr. Murray, "Yet, despite this progress, we are facing a 'triad of trouble' holding back many nations and communities — obesity, conflict, and mental illness, including substance use disorders."

20th Anniversary Event
In celebration of the Global Burden of Disease Study, IHME and The Lancet will co-host a 20th anniversary symposium on September 25–27 in Seattle, with keynote addresses by Bill Gates, Co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank.

Speakers and participants will explore various topics, including:

  • The history and evolution of the Global Burden of Disease enterprise
  • The epidemiological transition and progress toward improving health
  • Emerging challenges in health metrics sciences
  • The key risk factors that are driving health loss
  • The power and impact of subnational estimates
  • The future of the GBD

Since health metrics sciences is a multidisciplinary field, conference participants will represent a variety of academic and professional perspectives. Invitees include researchers, academic leaders, students, policymakers, non-governmental organizations, foundations, and national and multinational health organizations.

Attend keynote addresses by Bill Gates and Dr. Jim Kim on Wednesday, September 27, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Register here

Attend the full event. Register here

Watch the event online. View here

Read more about the Global Burden of Disease.