UCSF Announces the Institute for Global Health Sciences

By Anne Wolf

To better address emerging global health problems, UCSF Global Health Sciences has been designated the Institute for Global Health Sciences (IGHS).

Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, made the announcement today (Oct. 27) during his 2017 State of the University address.

“This new and expanded reorganization of our global health efforts will engage even more faculty and students in finding effective solutions to the world’s greatest global health challenges,” Hawgood said.

“Becoming an institute clarifies our organizational identity, bringing together our organizations and functions into a shared home and common platform for global health students, researchers, practitioners, educators and administrators,” said Jaime Sepulveda, MD, PhD, executive director of IGHS. “More important, it provides the opportunity to recommit to our mission to improve health and reduce inequities locally and globally.”

In the months leading up to the designation as an institute, IGHS has been developing strategic priorities for the next five years. A commitment to engaging a full array of academic disciplines -- Science, Technology, Economics, Policy, and Society to develop effective, implementable solutions is central to the strategy.

Because the most critical problems in global health are highly complex and often require transdisciplinary solutions, Sepulveda said, IGHS believes incorporating all of these disciplines into its programs can develop richer insights about the nature of long-standing challenges in global health and can create measurable solutions to improve health and reduce health inequities.

“This approach builds on our strengths but also requires more effective engagement with others across campus, in particular, basic scientists, and with outside partners to assemble the skills needed,” Sepulveda said.

Other strategic priorities include:

  • Support for campus global health programs by focusing on providing operational and technical assistance through the UCSF Global Programs Offices it has established in Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Kenya and Namibia. IGHS also plans to enhance the Faculty Affiliate Program and invest in other research tools such as the international research database.
  • Continuing innovation in education by strengthening the existing master’s and PhD programs, expanding online education and more closely linking IGHS researchers and students.

To reinforce the linkage between education and research, Sepulveda has established monthly Global Health Grand Rounds at which students and researchers come together to discuss how different sciences can help make progress on important global health problems. The first two sessions featured Dr. Walter Ornstein on ending polio and UCSF’s Dr. Dean Schillinger on the war on diabetes.  Future rounds will address reproductive health policy, global mental health and global cancer.

To mark the formation of the Institute, IGHS will host a symposium on Jan. 26, 2018, on the response of UCSF and the Institute to the latest global health challenges. The symposium will feature the U.S. launch of the third edition of Disease Control Priorities followed by talks and panels on transdisciplinary research, the widening scope of global health, and the importance of striking new partnerships to respond to global health issues.

About the Institute for Global Health Sciences

Chancellor Emeritus Haile T. Debas founded Global Health Sciences (GHS) in 2003 to harness the full scientific capabilities of UCSF to reduce health inequities worldwide. Since then, IGHS has grown into an organization with more than 300 employees and a budget of more than $70M.  It conducts sponsored research, trains students to be influential global health practitioners, builds capacity in low-income settings, and provides technical assistance to campus leadership and global health investigators across UCSF.  More than 280 UCSF faculty are members of the Faculty Affiliate program.

Since its founding, IGHS has:

·      Established the nation’s first master’s degree in global health in 2008, and currently has about 300 alumni.

·      Launched a PhD program in 2016. The first cohort of students is preparing for qualifying exams, and the second cohort began study this fall.

·      Played a leading role in malaria elimination in southern Africa and Asia Pacific.

·      Served as a key partner in Centers of Disease Control surveillance work to reduce the burden of HIV in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean.

·      Launched the Maternal and Newborn Health Research Cooperative dedicated to improving facility-based care for mothers and newborns in developing countries; the Preterm Birth Initiative-East Africa is one of the Cooperative’s projects.

·      Advocated for universal health coverage and increased funding to end TB, HIV, malaria and other infectious diseases.

·      Incubated and launched the system-wide UC Global Health Institute and the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH).