Columbia University Health Sciences Announces Formation of Office For Global Health Training and Education

Feb 3, 2003

New York, NY

Global health issues such as the AIDS crises in Africa and China have sparked an interest in students to obtain knowledge and training on an international level. Now, Columbia University Health Sciences has formed a new Office for Global Health Training and Education, to serve and develop the global focus for students on the Health Sciences campus.

The Office for Global Health Training and Education will provide a valuable service for our students and administration, says Dr. Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences and dean of the faculty of medicine at Columbia University. I am particularly pleased that much of the impetus for this program came from the students who let us know of their interest in being part of this critical field.

The goal of the Office of Global Health Training and Education is to cultivate among the Health Sciences' student body a group of professionals with the skills and knowledge to tackle difficult global health problems, improve health outcomes, and reduce inequalities in access to health care. The office's primary role will be the administrative coordination of international opportunities publicizing both the existing international opportunities and any that are newly developed through its work. The office will maintain a website, coordinate visa services and travel insurance options, and conduct seminars on basic issues in global health work. In addition, it will develop new funding sources and facilitate the disbursement of grants and fellowships for students interested in international health issues.

The prospects this office will create are endless, says Dr. Joanna Rubinstein, associate dean for institutional affairs at Columbia University Health Sciences. We will be able to offer interdisciplinary opportunities to all our students medical, public health, dental and nursing such as visiting professors, student presentations of research, and discussion forums. Our long-term plans will look into innovations for curriculum ranging from laboratory studies to delivery of care and public policy.

Dr. Rubinstein is currently working with Dr. Ezra Susser, chairman of the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, to hire an administrator and recruit faculty members who will serve on a committee that will oversee the new office.

Examples of current programs at Columbia that involve international health issues include the College of Physicians Surgeons (PS) International Health Organization, the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health Center, PS Cultura, PS Physicians for Human Rights, and the Ben Gurion University of the Negev MD Program in International Health and Medicine in collaboration with Columbia University Health Sciences. In addition, the Mailman School of Public Health has a number of international initiatives for students, including the new Center for Global Health and Economic Development (based at Mailman in partnership with Columbia's Earth Institute), and existing programs such as Arsenic Contamination in Bangladesh, Infectious Disease Research, collaboration with the Mandela School of Medicine in South Africa, Averting Maternal Death and Disability, Forced Migration, Human Rights, MTCT-Plus (and other AIDS-related initiatives), the Dominican Exchange Program, and the International Students Committee.

Our hope is to coordinate all international educational activities in one office, to ultimately address the full continuum of student interests, says Dr. Rubinstein.

The Columbia University Health Sciences Division includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists and other health professionals from the College of Physicians Surgeons, the School of Dental Oral Surgery, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, and allied research centers and institutions. Scientists at the Health Sciences campus conduct basic research with the ultimate goal of translating discoveries into new techniques for fighting disease and improving health. Today, Columbia continues to provide international leadership in world-class research and care.