The Center for Global Health (CGH) focuses on health as a human value that engages multiple disciplines across the University of Virginia as well as across cultural, economic, and geographic divides. CGH enriches the UVa academic mission by bridging centers, departments, and schools to build lasting collaborations within the University and abroad. The Center's model emphasizes academics, research, and curriculum.
1. UVa student scholars develop faculty-mentored 6-8 week projects in underserved countries working to improve the health of those in greatest need.
2. International fellows travel from collaborating sites abroad for training and research at UVa to address their own research priorities.
3. Interdisciplinary curricula emphasize research, including global health courses for undergraduates and medical students, an undergraduate minor in Global Public Health, a planned global health track for the Masters in Public Health program, as well as student-sponsored events and speakers.
Founded in 2001 as one of the nation's first pan-University Centers for Global Health, CGH began its overseas collaboration in 1978 in Northeast Brazil, when its founder Richard L. Guerrant, MD was working in UVa's division of Geographic Medicine. This collaboration has grown into one of higher education's longest sustained international partnerships.
The Center promotes the engagement of faculty and students in the development of multidisciplinary research projects that address global health issues. Through existing relationships with international colleagues and institutions, CGH annually sponsors more than 50 UVa undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in mentored global health research projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and underserved areas in the United States. In addition, 8-10 international research fellows, competitively selected by the faculty of our collaborating institutions abroad, come to UVa each year for training and research with UVa faculty mentors. They focus on the health priorities of their home countries and institutions. Over 100 such fellows have trained at UVa, with a remarkable 100% returning to their home countries in Brazil, Philippines, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, China, Peru, and Kenya.
Providing financial and other collaborative support, the Pfizer Initiative in International Health (PIIH), under the direction of Dr. W. Michael Scheld, advances the Center for Global Health research and program objectives. The Pfizer Initiative provides the primary financial support for international trainees working at UVa, and supports UVa fellows and scholars working abroad with international partners to conduct research on global health issues. The major purpose of the PIIH is to develop the resources, resolve and capacity to meet some of the gravest healthcare and human challenges in existence.
Since the Center's inception, significant development has occurred in each of the primary program areas. The Water and Health in Limpopo Province, South Africa Project combines the three components of CGH (scholars, fellows, curriculum) while strengthening the institutional partnership between the University of Venda (Univen), South Africa, and UVa. It is a collaboration between the Center for Global Health and UVa faculty from Engineering, Environmental Planning, Nursing, Environmental Sciences, Anthropology, and Medicine, in partnership with faculty from several departments at Univen, including former fellows who trained at UVa. Together, they support an ongoing research project that provides a framework for fieldwork opportunities for students from UVa and Univen while engaging a Limpopo community in designing and implementing sustainable improvements in water and sanitation. The project aims to serve as a replicable model for end-to-end design and implementation of water and sanitation improvements involving universities and communities together. Over time, student interest and demand for information, career advice, and opportunities in global health have grown markedly. CGH continues to foster partnerships with other groups around the University to meet these student demands and address global health challenges. University partners include the Institute for Practical Ethics, the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, the SAVANA consortium, the Pfizer Initiative in International Health, the Medical Alumni Association, and the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Law, Engineering, Architecture, and the College of Arts and Sciences. CGH Student Scholar Projects have included:
- Interactions of diarrhea and antiretroviral drug resistance in HIV in Brazil (undergraduate student in human biology).
- Interaction between Western medicine and traditional beliefs and practices in Guatemala (graduate student of law).
- Prevalence and treatment of hypertension among the underserved in
- Composting toilets in Juarez, Mexico (undergraduate student of engineering).
- Voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS in China (undergraduate student in biochemistry).
- Health impacts of water resources in South Africa (undergraduates in environmental sciences and engineering; graduates in law, nursing, and medicine).