The Global Health Crisis and Our Nation’s Research Universities

On September 14th, 2009, the presidents of five United States universities—Boston University, Brown, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Washington—and representatives of over 50 North American institutions convened for the first meeting of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (http://www.cugh.org). The meeting was in response to the demonstrated passion and interest of students in the field of global health and the responses needed from universities to cope with increasing student interest in this field. Of 37 institutions surveyed that feature global heath programs, the number of undergraduate and master’s level students studying in the field has doubled since 2006. In this arena, growing student movements have helped lead the way. Organizations such as Clinton Global Initiative Universities have also successfully tapped into university student interest in global public health outreach and research. To be sure, universities are well poised to lead such a movement for global health: They are independent organizations, boast central missions to promote public welfare, and possess copious resources and knowledge to share with partner institutions globally.

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Training the Next Generation of Global Health Scientists: A School of Appropriate Technology for Global Health

The MPH degree, while important for many aspects of public health, is simply not adequate for providing most of the the skills we need to staff the PDPs and PPPs for global health technology innovation. We need additional programs of instruction in US schools of public health, and possibly a new type of school of appropriate technology for global health. Graduates of such a curriculum should be highly sought after by the PDPs and PPPs, as well as the pharmaceutical industry, NIH, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies committed to global health. It may be that even the establishment of a single major school of appropriate technology for global health would be sufficient to begin addressing current needs, and then elements of such instruction would in time diffuse to more conventional schools of public health. Equally important, we need to address training needs in middle- and low-income countries where the neglected diseases are endemic by identifying centers of excellence in global health technology and expanding the opportunities for young scientists to obtain training in core competencies relevant to product and clinical development, GXP, and global access.

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