Inaugural UC Global Health Day to Highlight Research

Haile Debas

Two hundred University of California faculty, students and administrators will be convening at UC Irvine on Nov. 30 for the first-ever UC Global Health Day, sponsored by the UC Global Health Institute (UCGHI).

The conference, which will serve as a showcase for global health research being undertaken by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty across the 10-campus system, reflects the growing interest in global health in California and throughout the U.S.

UC Global Health Day

Most sessions of UC Global Health Day will be made available by live webcast.

Seventeen students and faculty will make oral presentations in five panel sessions and 61 will present posters on a diversity of topics. Subjects reflect the multidisciplinary and far-reaching geography of global health research interests on the UC campuses, including malaria in the Peruvian Amazon, mental health of Oaxacan migrants, family planning in India, HIV prevention in Tanzania, female genital mutilation in Sierra Leone and lab-on-a-cell-phone technology for telemedicine in the developing world.

UCSF’s growing involvement in global health spans more than 100 countries with more than 400 faculty members engaged in extramurally funded international research and patient care programs. UCSF’s global health outreach in India is featured in a series of films that highlight efforts to address HIV/AIDS, eye diseases and tobacco use in India. All three films are posted on YouTube.

Across the UC system, faculty and students in fields ranging from public health and medicine to engineering and environmental sciences to law and the arts are participating in global health-related education and research programs. UC campuses have created courses, minors and degree programs in global health, and three years ago, UCSF launched the first Masters of Science in Global Health degree program in the country.

“All too often when we say ‘health care’ we really mean ‘disease intervention,’ but health is so much broader than that,” says UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake, MD, who is a member of the UCGHI Executive Committee. “The University of California is uniquely positioned to bring together people from a wide variety of disciplines and points of view to address the health of the world in innovative and more effective ways.”

Growth of Global Health Education

Although the University of California is one of the leading institutions of higher education in the global health arena, it is not alone. A study conducted in 2009 by the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) found that the number of students enrolled in global health education programs in the U.S. and Canada doubled in the previous three years and the creation of academic centers of global health has risen dramatically since 2000.

To respond to this demand, and to leverage the expertise across the UC campuses, the UC Global Health Institute was established in November 2009. The UCGHI is composed of three multi-campus Centers of Expertise – Migration & Health, One Health, and Women’s Health & Empowerment – that are launching projects and education and training programs to produce leaders and practitioners of global health, conduct innovative research, and develop international partnerships to improve the health of vulnerable people and communities in California and worldwide.

Currently, the UCGHI is assessing the feasibility of creating a joint MS program in global health at three or more UC campuses.

The UCGHI is jointly led by Haile Debas, MD, chancellor emeritus, former medical school dean and now senior global health adviser at UCSF, and by Tom Coates, PhD, the Michael and Sue Steinberg Professor of Global AIDS Research at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Coates previously served as director of the AIDS Research Institute at UCSF.

“The University of California is experiencing a groundswell of interest in global health, and to a great degree, this is because of students and young faculty,” says Debas. “They are the driving force behind the growing number of new education and research programs and are shaping the future of this relatively new discipline.”

In addition to presentations by UC faculty and students, UC Global Health Day will feature lunchtime keynote speaker, Luisa Cabal, director of the International Legal Program, Center for Reproductive Rights, who will discuss “Promoting Women’s Health and Empowerment through Human Rights.” The closing keynote speaker, Roberto Tapia-Conyer, director general of the Carso Health Institute, will speak about “Major Trends in Global Health: A Social Investment Perspective.”

An award for best paper will be presented at the conference, and winners of the UC-wide photo contest will be announced.

UC Global Health Day is made possible with support from the UC Global Health Institute, the UC Irvine Office of the Chancellor and the UC Office of the President Division of Health Sciences and Services and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Underwriting is generously provided by The California Endowment.

For more information, visit the UCGHI website.

Related Links:

Live webcast of UC Global Health Day

UC Global Health Day website

“UCSF in India” Film Series Showcases Fruitful Partnerships
UCSF Today, November 23, 2009

UCGHI November 2010 newsletter

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