PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 Master 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.