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Applications Sought for Master's Program in Global Health Sciences

By Shipra Shukla

UCSF is accepting applications for fall 2009 entry into the master of science degree program in global health sciences. The deadline for submitting applications is Saturday, Jan. 31. Applications can be submitted online. The one-year, four-quarter Master’s Program in Global Health Sciences (GHS) provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to take on leadership roles in global health. The program emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach that prepares students for careers in international health policy, health care, research or international development. The fall 2009 class will comprise 20 students. At a recent meeting at UCSF of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health — which comprises leaders from major universities, including Harvard and Johns Hopkins — representatives agreed that global health would play a key role in all international policy decisions moving forward. “The problems of the 21st century are complex and require a shift in the traditional educational paradigm,” said Hail Debas, MD, executive director of UCSF GHS. “The leaders of tomorrow, whether they are working in government, academia or at the clinical level, will require knowledge which stretches beyond their traditional discipline.”

GHS Masters students pose for a photo with Executive Director Haile Debas.

In fact, a report by the Institute of Medicine released on Dec. 15, 2008, makes recommendations to the Obama administration for an expanded US role in improving global health. Among its authors is Debas, who is also championing the establishment of the University of California School of Global Health. A recent UC survey revealed that nearly 80 percent of faculty working on global health see a need for greater training in the field at the master’s and doctoral levels. The entering UCSF master’s degree class of seven students, which began in fall 2008, has varied backgrounds and research interests:
  • Kelli Barbour: workforce migration in Tanzania
  • Radhika Chigurupati: telemedicine in Nigeria and India
  • Trevor Jensen: malaria surveillance in Uganda
  • SoSon Jong: decisionmaking in underserved women with breast cancer
  • Ammu Ravindran: trial of antenatal education in Laos
  • Robin Tittle: irrigation scheme for HIV-positive farmers in Kenya
  • Robert Wyrod: gender and HIV in Uganda
The master’s program has attracted several UCSF faculty members who want to hone their careers in global health. Radhika Chigurupati, DMD, BDS, associate clinical professor in the UCSF School of Dentistry, hopes to decrease the global burden of cleft lip and palate and oral cancer by improving access to care through health technology interventions such as telemedicine. The entering class includes students from UCSF’s schools of dentistry, medicine and nursing, many of whom wish to apply their clinical knowledge at an international policy level. Fourth-year UCSF medical student Robin Tittle, who is examining the use of microfinance loans to assist HIV-positive farmers in Kenya, finds the smaller class size and integrative approach of the GHS master’s program to be an advantage. “The integration of fieldwork into the master’s program throughout the year means that students directly apply the information in each class to a real-world setting,” said Tittle. “This has helped me to reshape many aspects of my own project as it develops alongside the academic material.” Of particular note is the program’s emphasis on collaborative education. The University’s unique position as a health sciences campus, coupled with the integrative approach, allows it to be a leader in addressing the global challenges of the future. “We see the program drawing upon not only various health and science disciplines, but also economics, communications and engineering, among others,” said Debas. “This will allow our students to be better equipped to handle emerging global problems.” Related Links: UCSF Global Health Sciences Offers New, One-Year Master’s Degree UCSF Today, June 11, 2008 UCSF Global Health Sciences