Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2001
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IN THIS ISSUE
Time to replace New Cabell Hall, Board of Visitors says
Sen. Emily Couric — a friend of the University, an advocate for education
Berne's discovery improved lives of heart patients

Holiday sharing drive

Center pursues multidisciplinary approach to global health issues
Future doctors to get sex education
Faculty Actions -- from the October BOV meeting
Notable -- awards and achievements of faculty and staff
African-American Affairs celebrates
Hot Links -- lists of books that shed light on terror attacks
Inaugural symposium to look at the American college
Attention: book lovers
Campaign helps employees make a difference
U.Va. hosts nanotech workshop
Research awards to be showcased
Richard L. Guerrant
Stephanie Gross
Richard. L. Guerrant

Center pursues multidisciplinary approach to global health issues

By Fariss Samarrai

Clean water and air. Good schools. Reliable utilities. Successful economies. Supportive governments. These and other elements contribute to the premise that good health is an unassailable universal human value. To make progress in this area, the University inaugurated its new multidisciplinary Center for Global Health Oct. 11 with a discussion session and banquet at the International Residential College.

The center is develaoping multidisciplinary global health projects to broaden and expand on the international health care initiatives already established by the Medical School’s Division of Geographic and International Medicine and the Office of International Health. Researchers from several schools and departments University-wide, including law, biology, environmental sciences, education and public policy are among those who will work together on the projects.

“This new center offers a rich opportunity for people from across Grounds to build bridges with each other and with our colleagues around the world to seek ways to alleviate the diseases of poverty,” said Dr. Richard L. Guerrant, the center’s director and the Thomas H. Hunter Professor of International Medicine. “Members of the center will actively participate in and help lead efforts in all priority areas of the University, in research, education, public service and international relations.”

“Good health doesn’t mean just being free of disease,” said Dr. Alex Owusu-Ofori, a medical fellow from Ghana who is studying tropical medicine at U.Va. “Keeping people healthy involves much more than doctors; it requires infrastructure, good government, education, a clean environment, good economies. Students from all fields have the opportunity through this center to look for ways to use their skills for the betterment of humankind.”

The Center for Global Health is one of the first examples of an increasing emphasis on cross-disciplinary, international programs resulting from the work of the Virginia 2020 Commission on International Activities, headed by Vice Provost William Quandt.

With a target of $20 million in funding, the center has three primary plans: to establish fellowships for visiting students from other countries in a variety of disciplines; to provide scholarships for U.Va. students and faculty to work on health issues in other countries; and to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum on global health.

“By sending our students and faculty to other nations, and by bringing people here from other nations, we will profoundly change ourselves as an institution,” Guerrant said.

For more than 20 years Guerrant has led medical exchange programs in several countries in Africa, Asia and South America. He plans to broaden this work through the center by looking at the issues of health and poverty beyond a strictly medical perspective.

Guerrant’s specialty is tropical medicine — the treatment of a huge variety of infectious diseases, including cholera, dengue, yellow fever, typhoid, diphtheria and others — diseases that originated in the tropics but can now be found the world over as humans and resources travel fluidly across borders.

“Diseases of the poor can and do become diseases of the rich,” he said.
Guerrant and his staff and students have been working primarily in Brazil through a research and clinical collaboration with the Federal University of Ceara.

One doctoral student in education, Breyette Lorntz, is investigating the impact of early childhood disease on school performance with children in Brazil. She is playing a key role with Guerrant in helping the center develop multidisciplinary programs to improve health in the developing world.

“I’m working to help our university address global health issues, existing student interest in global health, and practical applications of academic theories across disciplines using global health as the focus,” she said.

More than 100 U.Va. medical students, faculty and fellows have practiced medicine and conducted research in Brazil through Guerrant’s program, and more than 60 international fellows and students have participated in the exchange program. All have returned to their home countries to lead the development of new health programs and centers.

“Disease and poverty in the developing world are whole-world problems,” Guerrant said. “Geographical borders cannot contain disease or poverty. We are not living in isolation. What affects our neighbors also affects us.”


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