UC launches institute to address global health's $75 billion impact on California

By Kristen Bole

Global Health represents more than a $75 billion impact on the California economy, according to a report by the newly formed University of California Global Health Institute. The report was released today during a conference on the importance of global health to California.

That impact includes an estimated $49.8 billion of revenue that is generated annually by California companies addressing global health needs, according to the report, and an additional $8 billion in tax revenue for the state, or roughly 7 percent of total state taxes.

The study, which was conducted by UC Riverside researchers, also found that the global health sector supports 350,000 high-quality jobs in California and provides $19.7 billion in wages and salaries, generating two dollars of business activity for every dollar invested by the state into global health.

“The impact of the global health sector ranks alongside the hospitality industry in scale and outweighs such prominent sectors as agriculture and telecommunications for the state,” said John D. Stobo, MD, UC senior vice president for Health Sciences and Services. “In that context, there is no better time to launch an integrated approach such as the UC Global Health Institute to bring UC expertise in healthcare, clean water and engineering to address global health issues.”

The conference and report mark the official launch of the UC Global Health Institute, which aims to galvanize and harness the educational, research and health care expertise of hundreds of UC faculty across the 10-campus system to address the increasingly complex global health problems and needs of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Global health has been named among the top five priorities of the National Institutes of Health and has received a White House commitment of $63 billion over the next six years. It is also an increasingly popular focus for students in the UC system in fields ranging from public health and medicine to engineering and environmental sciences. Student enrollment in global health education programs has doubled nationwide in the past three years alone.

The Institute serves as a proof-of-concept for the previously discussed UC School of Global Health, and will be jointly led by Haile Debas, MD, executive director of UCSF Global Health Sciences and former UCSF Chancellor, and by Tom Coates, PhD, the Michael and Sue Steinberg Professor of Global AIDS Research at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

“The past two years of discussion and planning have been a testament to the zeal and commitment to global health of a broad range of UC faculty,” Debas said, noting that more than 150 UC faculty members have been involved in the Institute’s planning.

Ultimately, he said, this will help prepare students to be world leaders in global health research, policy and practice.

The Institute is launching with three multi-campus, multi-disciplinary Centers of Expertise to lead UC-wide education programs, develop research projects and form partnerships for implementing programs and interventions:

  • Migration and Health, led by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, chief of the UC San Diego Division of Global Public Health, and Marc Schenker, MD, MPH, Public Health Sciences professor at UC Davis, with partner campuses Berkeley, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz;
  • One Health: Water, Animals, Food and Society, led by Patricia Conrad, DVM, PhD, professor in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and Anil Deolalikar, PhD, economics professor at UC Riverside, with partner campuses Berkeley, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz;
  • Women’s Health and Empowerment, led by Philip Darney, MD, UCSF professor and chief of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Health Sciences at San Francisco General Hospital, and Paula Tavrow, PhD, director of the Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health at UCLA School of Public Health, with partner campuses Berkeley, Davis, Irvine and San Diego.

The Institute will offer a variety of education programs, beginning with a one-year master’s degree that is expected to enroll students in fall 2011. Eventually, it also will offer two-year masters and PhD programs, granted by the UC campus on which the students conduct their work. The centers of expertise will lead the development of these programs and design field projects for students at partnership sites throughout the world.

The centers were chosen through a competitive application process involving proposals from 12 teams of faculty across the UC system. Center leaders will work with the administrative core at UCSF during the 2009-2010 academic year to plan education, research and partnership programs. 

UCSF Global Health Sciences is administering a two-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to plan the Institute. The Institute is in the process of establishing a steering committee with representation from all 10 campuses.

The Institute will be self-supporting and will depend on gifts, grants and revenue from enrollment fees.  Development efforts are currently underway to obtain additional start-up funds for the Institute and its centers of expertise.

The November 9th forum, “A Center of Excellence for Global Health: Why Global Health Matters to California,” is being co-hosted by UCSF Global Health Sciences and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A webcast of the conference can be accessed live from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or can be viewed after the event at http://www.uctv.tv/ucsfglobalhealth/.

The report, titled, “The Importance of the Global Health Sector in California: An Evaluation of the Economic Impact,” can be accessed at http://ucghi.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/eir/.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. For further information, please visit www.ucsf.edu.