Global Health

Focus on Global Health

For more than 30 years, Einstein has been at the forefront of global health, providing opportunities for students to travel the globe and learn how to address health care issues through participation in research, public health projects or clinical care. During December, the medical school's longstanding tradition of sending students abroad was celebrated at two special events that also touted the leadership and support of Dr. Albert Kuperman, the associate dean for educational affairs who initiated the Global Health Fellowship Program at Einstein.

Dr. Meredith Hawkins, featured speaker
Dr. Meredith Hawkins, featured speaker
On December 3, Global Health Night, an annual event designed to highlight the opportunities available to students, featured a keynote speech by Dr. Meredith Hawkins, director of Einstein's Global Diabetes Initiative and professor of medicine. An endocrinologist, Dr. Hawkins shared how she initially thought there was no place for her in the global health arena, since her focus was not infectious diseases, and how a trip to Romania changed that perspective. "The diet of the population was such that diabetes was very prevalent. I was the busiest doctor in our group," she recalled. She concluded her talk by encouraging students to follow their passions, since virtually every specialty is of vital need in the developing world.

Other highlights of the evening included presentations by three student groups about their respective global health experiences in Peru, Ethiopia, and Uganda, and an inspiring introduction to the world of global health presented by Dr. Lanny Smith, director of Doctor's for Global Health and associate professor of clinical medicine and of clinical family and social medicine at Einstein.

He noted, "Al Kuperman came to Einstein 35 years ago with the stipulation that our institution commit to sharing its student resources with the world. In that process he also made the world an Einstein classroom, creating the Global Health Fellowship and setting the bar for global health education excellence while at the same time building the foundation for our current Global Health Center."

Laura Greisman & Christyn Edmundson
Laura Greisman & Christyn Edmundson
The audience also heard from Dr. Louis Weiss, chair of the Einstein Global Health Center (GHC) steering committee and professor of medicine and of pathology, and from the student leaders of the Global Health Club.

On December 7, the GHC held its first Global Health Symposium, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Paul Farmer, a luminary in the global health field. Dr. Farmer, who spoke about "Global Health and Human Rights," is co-founder of Partners in Health, a non-profit organization that he began while still a student at Harvard Medical School, and through which he and colleagues provide direct health care services and undertake research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty.

The day-long event also included presentations by members of the Einstein faculty who are recipients of GHC pilot and microgrants, as well as discussion among faculty and staff about the direction for the center and Einstein's global health efforts going forward.

"There is an excitement here at Einstein about global health and serving humanity that inspires faculty, staff and students to pursue the seemingly impossible and make it possible," said Jill Raufman, program manager of the GHC. "You come away with the belief that we truly can make a positive difference in the world."

Posted on: Friday, January 8, 2010