University News

Global Health Initiative seeks permanent home

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Faculty leaders of the Global Health Initiative, a University-wide effort to combat health inequalities locally and internationally, are preparing a proposal to upgrade the initiative to a permanent center.

The September status report for the Plan for Academic Enrichment, President Ruth Simmons’ blueprint for University improvement and expansion, lists the transformation of the Global Health Initiative into the Global Health Center as a priority “to ensure Brown is a truly global university.”

“We thought being a center would give us more legitimacy, will give us more visibility and give us more resources,” said Susan Cu-Uvin, director of the initiative and professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences, is already on board with the expansion, Cu-Uvin said. The next phase to further the proposal requires the support of Provost Mark Schlissel P’15, she said.

It is unclear when Schlissel will make his decision on the matter. When Cu-Uvin and Wing met with him in July, he was supportive of the idea, Cu-Uvin said, but he has “so much on his plate” as the new provost that he is not ready to formally entertain the proposal.

The Global Health Initiative oversees global health activities and facilitates communication on global health throughout the University community, Cu-Uvin said. Because addressing global health is an interdisciplinary pursuit, cooperation among departments, individuals and University-affiliated hospitals is important, she said.

Since its inauguration in 2009, the Global Health Initiative has attracted visiting scholars, sponsored a lecture series on global health and medicine and attracted grant and fellowship money from organizations like the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health. With the NIH funding, the initiative has awarded scholarships to 36 Brown students studying in 19 countries, Cu-Uvin said.

The initiative has also acted as the University’s liaison with the rest of the global health community, Cu-Uvin said. For instance, with the support of the initiative, the University has signed memoranda of understanding with institutions around the world, she said.

But growing into a center could amplify the initiative’s efforts. “We want to make sure the center encompasses all the different departments of the community,” she said. Cu-Uvin singled out the Watson Institute for International Studies and the School of Engineering as parts of the community she would like to see more involved in global health.

Cu-Uvin will meet with Wing and Matthew Gutmann, vice president for international affairs, Nov. 4 to discuss the proposal.

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