MARCH 2006: Home arrow Briefings arrow Latest arrow New Global Health Department Could Change the Lives of Millions
New Global Health Department Could Change the Lives of Millions Print

On Jan. 19 the UW Board of Regents approved the creation of a new Department of Global Health that has the potential to change the lives of millions around the world. At the same time, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $20 million grant that will help fund the interdisciplinary program.

“The UW’s new Department of Global Health has the potential to become one of the most important programs in the world,” says UW President Mark Emmert, ’75. “The University of Washington has extensive experience in creating new interdisciplinary research and training programs that quickly move to the forefront in their respective fields. This will be one of those.”

The department is jointly operated by the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, a rarity among U.S. universities.

The department will be a focal point for the University’s programs to identify health problems and health inequities in underserved populations. It will develop and implement innovative solutions that can dramatically reduce disease and improve health for all populations.

Start-up and annual funding requirements will be met through a combination of funds from the UW and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Research programs will focus on infectious diseases; injury control; nutrition; reproductive, maternal and child health; and the delivery of health care systems. There will be a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research. UW officials estimate that the department could attract as much as $100 million in grants and contracts once it is fully operational.

“In addition to developing new initiatives, the Department of Global Health will strengthen existing research programs, such as laboratory-based research on the pathogenesis and prevention of ‘global diseases,’ ” says Medical School Dean Paul G. Ramsey. “These global diseases include malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis C and other devastating diseases.”

Combining medicine and public health in one department will expose faculty and students to the broad spectrum of disciplines needed to address global health problems, adds Public Health and Community Medicine Dean Patricia W. Wahl. A unique M.D./M.P.H. (Master of Public Health) degree will serve as a model for educational institutions in the United States and abroad.