Cohort 7 theme: Systems leadership for population health in times of scarcity

 Call for Applications for Cohort 7 is now open until 30 June 2024

The current era is marked by underinvestment in health systems in some countries, very inefficient systems and overprovision in other countries, persistent inequalities and health workforce shortages. There is a clear imperative for systems leadership in advancing population health equity and improving the quality and efficiency of services. The future of health and wellbeing for all hinges upon our ability to embrace a holistic approach that transcends traditional boundaries, develops the workforce and fosters partnerships between institutions and community actors. Improving population health and the efficiency of services requires aligning practice with policy, inspiring and developing the workforce and catalysing non-traditional collaborations across sectors ranging from local organizations to academia and government. This paradigm shift demands leaders who can navigate complexity and drive transformative change towards a more inclusive and resilient ecosystem for health.

Population health focuses on communities' collective well-being, addressing health outcomes and the underlying determinants of disparities. By understanding wider health system factors alongside socioeconomics and environment issues, leaders can unlock new ways of uplifting underserved populations. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how technology and data-driven approaches can revolutionise care delivery and resource allocation, underscoring the importance of adaptive and forward-thinking leadership in navigating complex health landscapes. By championing an interdisciplinary, community-centric approach, leaders can foster a culture of collaboration and innovation, ultimately paving the way for a future where health equity is not just an aspiration but a fundamental reality for all.

What is systems leadership?

“Systems leadership is a set of skills and capacities that any individual or organisation can use to catalyse, enable and support the process of systems-level change. It combines collaborative leadership, coalition-building and systems insight to mobilise innovation and action across a large, decentralised network,

Transforming a complex system – such as [...] health systems – is a monumental task requiring coordinated action by people with very different viewpoints. These large-scale initiatives are often driven and supported by people who fit a certain profile – those who are able to catalyse and empower collective action among others, rather than controlling or directing the action themselves. These people are increasingly described as systems leaders.”

– David Nabarro, Co-Director, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London

About the programme

Over the two-year systems leadership programme, Sciana’s seventh cohort will exchange strategies, pioneering work, innovations and bold ideas in their work across Germany, Switzerland and the UK towards advancing population health. Fellows will incubate and experiment with new cross-boundary collaborations through an applied leadership project, called the Sciana challenge.

The programme is led by programme co-leads, Sir David Behan and Mary Helen Pombo, who collaborate closely with the partner foundations, Sciana advisors, and experts in the field.

FAQs | About Sciana | The programme

Who can apply?

At Sciana, we are committed to developing a generation of leaders who will transform the future of care, health and wellbeing.

Sciana looks for mid-senior level leaders in Germany, Switzerland, and the UK who can catalyse and empower collective action among actors, organisations, and coalitions for systems-level change in health.

Applicants working outside of the healthcare system directly, who influence health and wellbeing, such as community organizations, media/journalism professionals and patient representatives are encouraged to apply.

We encourage people of all genders, races/ethnicities, and people with disabilities to apply. At Sciana, we value diversity, equity and inclusion and strive to create an inclusive community of healthcare leaders from different backgrounds, who bring unique perspectives to the table.

Selection criteria

Current work

  • Involved with leading collaborative work that is cross-sector and cross-disciplinary.
  • Holding a position in health or public policy, research, science, digital health, technology, media, community development, industry, patient advocacy, innovation or similar fields.


  • Experience advancing population health through innovation, research, policy-making or community programmes, including influencing multiple stakeholders and systems.


  • Collaborative skills and commitment to engaging actively with a community of peers and experts.
  • Knowledge of, or experience with multiple international health systems (desirable)
  • Have excellent English language skills (knowledge of other languages is an advantage).

Qualities and interests

  • Entrepreneurial and strategic thinking, understanding the scale and complexity of key challenges facing health and health care systems.
  • A deep commitment to equity, quality, sustainability, universal coverage, and patient and community-centred care, and wider endeavours as outlined in the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Committed to attending all seminars and meetings, which requires travel to Salzburg and local meetings.

What is the time commitment?

Sciana fellows are required to attend all four of the three-day gatherings in Salzburg over two years. Fellows are also encouraged to work in smaller project teams in between formal meetings to collaborate on joint projects, which involves two to four hours per month. Fellows typically remain active within the Network and invited to contribute to Sciana beyond their initial two-year fellowship.

The tentative dates for the in-person meetings of Cohort 7 in Salzburg are:

Residential Meeting 1:

13-17 May 2025

Residential Meeting 2:

25-29 Nov 2025

Residential Meeting 3:

17-21 May 2026

Residential Meeting 4:

08-12 Nov 2026


Note: These dates include travel time to Salzburg. Participants arrive in the evening on the first day and travel back home in the morning of the last day. The programme takes place over three days.

How to apply?

If you are available for all four meetings, please complete the application form by 30 June 2024. Participation in all four meetings is required.

To help you prepare, here's what to expect from the application portal:

Three questions

  • Motivation and experience: What is your interest in joining Sciana? (150 words max)
  • Leading population health in time of scarcity: What initiatives are you working on to advance population health? (150 words max)
  • Collaborative leadership: How do you envision applying your learning from the programme? In your role, how are you uniquely positioned to make a difference? What major challenges and opportunities are you currently facing? (150 words max)

Request for a CV/resume

Personal application video (optional)

Selection process

We will respond to applications starting September-October 2024. You’ll be invited to an online interview with the foundations and Salzburg Global Seminar, if selected

If you have any questions, please see the FAQs or contact Sciana Programme Manager, Charlotte Müer