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UC San Diego Global Health Initiative

History of the Global Health Initiative

In 2009, UC San Diego Health Sciences led the development of the UCSD Global Health Initiative (GHI) as a campus-wide effort. The GHI is directed by Dr. Steffanie Strathdee and co-directed by Dr Josh Graff-Zivin and is advised by a steering committee. With more than 300 members, the GHI is a coordinating body for global health research and education. The GHI is developing a database that will allow students and fellows to search for global health training opportunities. 

Global Health Research and Programs

UC San Diego’s School of Medicine is home to two divisions of global health research and education: the Division of Global Public Health in the Department of Medicine and the Division of Global Health in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine

Global Medicine Program

Nursing assisting patient in Mexico

In 2009, the Global Medicine Residency Program was launched under the direction of Dr. Chip Schooley, as a collaboration between UC San Diego and the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM). The Global Medicine Residency Program served as the basis of a successful application to the NIH’s Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI). UEM and UCSD have engaged in exchanges of senior medical residents, faculty members and fellows. UCSD’s collaboration with Mozambique has expanded from an effort to provide UC San Diego Internal Medicine residents with training opportunities in diseases disproportionately affecting resource-limited populations to a much larger effort to help Mozambique redevelop its medical school faculty, and found two new medical schools in northern Mozambique. The MEPI collaborative includes major initiatives in medical education and biomedical informatics; the latter (BRIGHT) is led by Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado (see below).

Peru/Brazil International Center of Excellence in Malaria Research

In 2010, this Center was funded as a U19 grant from NIH/NIAID; it is one of 10 around the world (PI: Dr. Joe Vinetz). The Center takes an integrated approach to the study of malaria epidemiology, vector biology/ecology, diagnostics, transmission biology and clinical pathogenesis to underpin malaria control, elimination and eradication efforts in the Amazon. Three sites are involved: Acre, Brazil; Iquitos, Peru; and Madre de Dio/Puerto Maldonado, Peru. 

Mexico-US and Mexico/Guatemala Border Research and Training Program

UC San Diego’s Division of Global Public Health (Chief: Dr. Steffanie Strathdee) maintains a vibrant research and training program focused on HIV and related conditions the Mexico/US and Mexico/Guatemala borders which currently includes 7 R01s, one R37, 11 K01 career development awards and a D43 training grant funded by the Fogarty International Center. This includes the first NIH-funded research on the health effects of sex trafficking awarded to a new faculty recruit, Dr. Jay Silverman. Research generated by this binational team of researchers was responsible for Mexico’s first successful application to the Global Fund to Prevent HIV, TB and Malaria for HIV prevention efforts. The division also coordinates the HFit clinical elective (see below). 

Superfund Research Program (SRP)

In 2012, NIEHS awarded the SRP its third funding cycle, to continue research on the molecular and genetic consequences of exposure to uncontrolled toxicants (PI: Bob Tukey). The SRP includes research projects led by scientists from TSRI, the Salk Institute, and HHMI. One innovative project offers research and educational opportunities in the Tijuana River Watershed.

Center of Expertise on Migration and Health

UC San Diego is the lead campus of the southern hub of the Center of Expertise on Migration and Health (COEMH; Co-Director: Dr. Steffanie Strathdee), which is one of three COEs that operate through the UC-wide Global Health Institute. The mission of this Center is to improve health and eliminate health disparities of international migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people around the world through basic and action-oriented research, policy analyses, applied learning opportunities, and innovative dissemination activities. The Center is developing an area of concentration for the multi-campus Master’s in Global Health which is being proposed. 

Global Health Training and Education Programs

GloCal Fellows Program

Doctor bringing supplies to patient in Haiti

In April 2012, NIH’s Fogarty International Center awarded a new R25 grant to fund a global health fellowship program that operates as a consortium led by UCSF (Dr Craig Cohen, PI), and UC San Diego (Steffanie Strathdee, Co-PI), with UCLA and UCD as collaborators. This 5-year grant annually supports ~12 postdoctoral fellows, pre-doctoral trainees, medical students and early career faculty from the four UCs and 25 international partner institutions, for 11 months and provides research project funding. The first cohort of 11 fellows included 3 from UC San Diego. 

Biomedical Research Informatics for Global Health Training (BRIGHT) Program

Directed by Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado, this program started with collaboration among US and Brazilian researchers in 1999 and since 2009 it expanded into Mozambique. The goal is to connect lusophone countries interested in enhancing biomedical informatics training. Two symposia were done in Maputo, in 2010 and 2012, as well as short-course taught by Brazilian faculty.

A Global Health track was launched in the joint PhD program in Public Health between UC San Diego and SDSU. A Global Health Minor began in 2010. Both are the first of their kind in the UC system. 

Health Frontiers in Tijuana (HFIT) Free Clinic

Since 2011, HFIT has operated as a free clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, run by UC San Diego’s Division of Global Public Health and collaborators from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Tijuana Campus School of Medicine and Prevencasa, a Tijuana-based NGO. Modeled after the San Diego Free Clinic, medical students from UC San Diego and Mexico work under close clinical supervision to provide free care to underserved populations. The clinic is offered as a preclinical elective (MED 239) on Saturdays in Tijuana’s red light district; it now offers a telemedicine component. There is potential to extend research opportunities to students in public health, pharmacy and other disciplines. 

Mexico Migration Field Training Program (MMFRP)

MMFRP is an internationally recognized multi-disciplinary program of fieldwork-based research which focuses on Mexican migration to the US. It emphasizes an integrated approach to understand migration and health issues among Mexican “sending communities” with high emigration rates and California “receiving communities” where large numbers of immigrants settle. The course is designed for students in the Joint Doctoral Program in Global Health and medical students.

Clinical Residency Rotation in Refugee Health

Since 2009, this clinical rotation gives UC San Diego medical residents the opportunity to explore the intersection of international health, human rights, epidemiological trends and health disparities in outpatient clinics that serve the global populations in San Diego.