The Institute's thematic areas have been carefully and responsibly selected to ensure that they focus on the world's most pressing health and development challenges. They are intended to be interdisciplinary and collectively address the many factors which influence health outcomes, as defined by the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs serve as a "shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future", and this philosophy informs the approach of the Institute.
Four prioritized thematic areas are:
1. Climate Change, Environment, and Health
2. Gender Equality and Maternal & Child Health
3. Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition
4. Health and health related Sustainable Development Goals