For Teresa Caya, who earned her Graduate•Professional Certificate in Global Health while completing her medical degree, the certificate was a way to plan and carry out an infectious disease global health project in Nicaragua. “We live in a world in which disease and poverty do not respect geographic boundaries,” she says. “Better understanding health problems and cultures in other countries helps me to better diagnose and treat patients I see in the United States.”
The certificate showed Johnny Uelmen, who earned his Ph.D. from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, a new career path. “During my (field experience) in rural Thailand, I was fortunate to meet so many local citizens that were so kind and welcoming,” he says. “Learning about the general fear of arboviral illnesses and the safety of their community inspired me to study diseases in areas of the world that are most affected.”
Across campus. Across the world. Across Wisconsin. The Graduate•Professional•Capstone Certificates in Global Health train students in the classroom and bring them to under-served communities to learn, to share, to grow.
This year’s application deadline is April 30.
Students from programs as diverse as human and veterinary medicine, engineering, nursing, pharmacy, education, anthropology, nutrition, environmental studies and more pursue the certificate as a way to develop marketable skills to work with diverse communities.
“The certificate will broaden your perspective on the meaning of health and well-being in cultures and populations around the world,” says Certificate Director Christopher Olsen. “Certificate students experience first-hand their role as global citizens and their potential as global health leaders.” Olsen explains more about the program in a new three-minute video.
The 9-credit certificate program is open to all UW-Madison graduate students and students in professional programs, including medicine, pharmacy and veterinary medicine. It’s also available to community members who want to know more and contribute to global health. The program includes a field course experience, including faculty-led courses in Thailand, Uganda and Ecuador.
The certificate is offered through the Global Health Institute (GHI) and the Departments of Academic Affairs and Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and Public Health. Students can find a detailed description of the certificate and the application form on the GHI website.
The application deadline for 2018-2019 is April 30.
By Ann Grauvogl/ April 5, 2018
A new version of “The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health,” an online, open-access course, is available, says UW Emergency physician Janis Tupesis, the Global Health Institute-Graduate Medical Education liaison, who helped develop and teaches in the program.
The course provides a uniform and comprehensive national education program to help medical students safely and effectively participate in international rotations. It is an open-access course that’s available free-of-charge, Tupesis and his colleagues write in The Journal of Travel Medicine. Gabrielle Jacquet and Suzy Sarfaty from Boston University School of Medicine are co-authors of the Letter to the Editor.
“Many of our institutions were spending a tremendous amount of time putting together these global health programs with administrative components, financial components and logistics,” Tupesis says. “But they were spending little time in actually preparing the learners.”
Global health faculty from many countries and many specialties collaborated to complete the three-part course. It includes three segments:
- The Big Picture, completed 6 to 12 months in advance of the international experience, looks at what students expect from a global health rotation and what experience will be right for their level of training.
- Preparation and On the Ground, completed 1 to 3 months in advance of the experience, looks at the logistics of preparing for the trip, including topics from transportation and security to vaccinations and cultural awareness.
- Reflection, completed near the end of the rotation, gives students tools to prepare to return, It includes information about dealing with unexpected feelings and health issues, and planning for the future.
March 14, 2017
The Global Health Institute (GHI) is hiring two interns who are interested in contributing to better health for all —humans, animals and the planet. Interns are vital to GHI, bringing their perspective, their energy and their enthusiasm to both operations and communication.
The general/education intern will begin in April and support office operations, as well as education, research and outreach activities. The communications/social media intern will begin in May with special responsibility for social media effort. Both positions will continue through the summer and the next academic year.
All students with the needed skills are invited to apply.
See the job postings at:
Students should be able to work 8 to 12 hours during the semester and up to 20 hours a week during the summer. Hours are flexible based on class schedule. Interns work mostly from the Global Health Institute office in the Medical Sciences Center.
Working for GHI gives students an opportunity to collaborate with staff, leadership and the GHI community on campus and across the world. Interns leave with knowledge and experience in areas as diverse as running an office, contributing to education programs, hosting events and managing communications for a cross-campus entity.
This story appeared first at news.wisc.edu.
Since the 1960s, tens of thousands of birds living on the Great Lakes have died during periodic outbreaks of botulism. The outbreaks have only become more common and widespread in recent years, leaving scientists who track the birds puzzled.
Setting out to understand the spiking outbreaks, ecologists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the U.S. Geological Survey turned to citizen scientists. In a USGS program, volunteers tracked bird deaths along Lake Michigan from 2010 to 2013 to discover what conditions lead to large die-offs. The researchers found that warm waters and algae — both of which have become more frequent over the years — tended to precede bird deaths, likely because they promoted the growth of botulism toxin-producing bacteria.
Benjamin Zuckerberg, a professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at UW–Madison, led the research. His team reports its findings Jan. 9 in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Their work could help improve bird monitoring programs by helping predict when botulism-related deaths are likely to spike.
Birds can contract botulism in much the same way people can: by eating food infected with the toxin-producing bacteria. The toxin leads to paralysis and death — often, in waterfowl, by drowning. To keep track of these deaths, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center created a citizen-science program called AMBLE (Avian Monitoring for Botulism Lakeshore Events) in 2010. Volunteers for the aptly named AMBLE regularly walked beaches in Door County, Wisconsin, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, recording the number of sick and dead birds of different species. Researchers at the center tested a sample of bird carcasses, and the majority tested positive for botulism.
The citizen scientists were indispensable for this research project, says Karine Princé, who is a postdoctoral research associate at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and is the lead author of the new report. Princé performed the botulism study while a postdoc in the Zuckerberg lab.
“With citizen-science programs, we are able to collect a lot of data at multiple spatial and temporal scales, which you can’t necessarily do in a university-led research program. It’s great that we can have access to this data,” says Princé.
Princé used satellite data to measure environmental conditions like temperature, water level and visible algae. When she lined up the environmental factors with records of waterfowl deaths, she found that botulism-related die-offs spiked when waters were warmer and algae growth was high. Many lakes have been warming with a changing climate, and clearer water caused by invasive zebra mussels provides more sunlight for algae to grow in thicker mats. Those conditions create the low-oxygen environments where the botulism toxin-producing bacteria thrive. These changes help explain why bird deaths have increased since the late 1990s.
The Zuckerberg team also found that die offs were synchronized within a roughly 40-kilometer (25-mile) radius from one location to another. That kind of spatial coordination could help monitor a wider geographic region with fewer people on the ground — data collected in one area could be applicable to a wide geographic region nearby. Princé also says scientists could watch environmental conditions to forecast when outbreaks are likely, and then send out more monitors to look for birds.
“It’s nice to have the citizens involved in this program. And I think citizen scientists are quite interested in learning more about the environment or the species they are monitoring,” says Princé. “And I think as scientists it’s very important that we share our results and share the output we can get from this program to keep people involved, because their involvement is crucial.”
“Without this citizen science program, we wouldn’t have been able to show what we’ve shown,” she adds.
This work was funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through an interagency agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency
Robin Mittenthal, who touched hundreds of student lives as manager, advisor, mentor and field course leader for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health, died suddenly this weekend following an accident at his farm.
“Robin was a very thoughtful, passionate family man,” says Sherry Tanumihardjo, professor of Nutritional Sciences and director of the undergraduate certificate. “His family was the most important thing to him. Some of this passion rubbed off in his mentoring of hundreds of students.”
Mittenthal managed the certificate program from just after its inception in 2011 to spring 2017, when he became center coordinator at the Upper Midwestern Regional Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease.
Employed by the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), he was a central contributor to the development and coordination of the undergraduate certificate. The program is co-sponsored by GHI and CALS.
— Trevor Cooper, MS (@TLCswerve) December 5, 2017
As an administrative manager, Mittenthal dedicated countless hours organizing the program and advising students. “Robin was involved right from the start of the undergraduate certificate in global health,” says Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute. “The early success of the new program was due, in no small part, to his unfailing dedication and caring for the experience of each and every student.”
“Robin was an intelligent, caring and loved advisor by hundreds of students,” says Lori DiPrete Brown, associate director for education and engagement at the Global Health Institute and an undergraduate certificate leader. “He cared deeply about education, the environment and the way food systems related to health, but most importantly, his family was the center of his life.”
Mittenthal’s vibrant spirit as an advisor and educator predated his engagement with the certificate program. He served as an agricultural advisor with the Peace Corps in The Gambia during the mid 1990s and worked as a librarian and teacher for K-12 students.
— Aliya Iftikhar (@aliyazeba) December 4, 2017
At the Upper Midwestern Regional Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease, Mittenthal was responsible for coordinating partners in five states and tracking the center’s progress in addressing vector-borne disease challenges. Susan Paskewitz and Lyric Bartholomay, co-directors of the Center, admired the radiance Mittenthal brought with him.
“People have said so many amazing things about him — his passion for what he did, caring for students, sense of humor and intelligence,” Paskewitz says. “One of our students said he was like a perfect human being.”
In a GoFundMe campaign to contribute to the education savings accounts for Mittenthal’s children, Bartholomay wrote: “Robin Mittenthal had a rare gift for connecting to other people. He gave us his time, his undivided attention, his radiant smile, his stories that spanned an unbelievable repertoire of life experiences, his infectious enthusiasm, his thanks and his encouragement. In so doing, he touched lives of countless colleagues in entomology and CALS, of hundreds of undergraduate advisees in the Global Health certificate, and of the students, staff and colleagues in and surrounding a new center on campus for mosquito and tick-borne disease.”
UW senior KM Barnett met with Mittenthal last week about plans for next semester’s work at the center. The short meeting became two hours to visit about her long- and short-term career goals. She remembers: “At the end of the meeting, he said to me, ‘I am so excited for all the things you’ll do.’ His words warmed me with comfort and confidence. … I am grateful for Robin’s keen ability to listen and say the right thing at just the right time.”
Sweta Shrestha, program manager for the Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship Program at the Population Health Institute, worked closely with Mittenthal during her time as GHI’s assistant director for education, especially in the early stages of the certificate program. “He was larger than life, and he cared so deeply,” she says. “There are so many students he’s impacted. He wanted to nurture every student, and he did — he put everyone else ahead of himself. If a student needed a recommendation letter and he was up to his ears in work, he wouldn’t hesitate to say yes.”
Across campus, students mourn. Samuel Park, a senior with a Certificate in Global Health, remembers Mittenthal as a kind-hearted, passionate advisor. “He will forever be remembered as a shining light in the campus community who inspired many, many students to pursue careers in support of our collective health,” says Catherine Goslin (’17), who earned her undergraduate certificate.
A caring mentor and tireless advocate for students. You will be missed Robin. https://t.co/BUS67h7aM1
— Duncan Mahood (@DuncanMahood) December 5, 2017
— Eric Obscherning (@EricObscherning) December 4, 2017
During Mittenthal’s tenure, the certificate expanded to reach hundreds of students. It has become the largest undergraduate certificate on campus. “The connections he made across campus were incredible,” says Devika Suri, who worked with Mittenthal as an undergraduate certificate advisor. “Everyone knew him and respected him. He was able to bridge different areas of campus to bring people together and collaborate.”
Mitthenthal’s impact resounded across campus. Prior to working for the certificate, he served as chairman of the board overseeing the Eagle Heights Community Gardens while pursuing his Ph.D. in entomology, studying how organic fertilizer affected insect pests.
“He tried to infuse his love of the land and earth with his job,” Suri says. “Farming was his love and passion, and his dream was always to have a farm.”
A dream that came to life in Little Mammoth Berry Farm, LLC, a farm on a beautiful plot in Belleville, Wisconsin, that will reflect the energy and compassion of Mittenthal, it’s builder, for years to come.
Mittenthal was 43. He is survived by his wife, Daniella Molle, and their two children.
“He was a salt of the earth kind of guy,” Shrestha says. “He was so good, and so honest. The spaces he made for students were his way of showing how much he cared about global health, and the spaces the land makes for us.”
Mittenthal was remembered at grief sessions for faculty and staff, and students, Tuesday.
His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Cress Funeral Home, 6021 University Avenue. Visitation for family and close friends begins at 10 a.m. His obituary has been posted.
To contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, click here.
By Yusra Murad/ December 6, 2017
Photo by George Hesselberg/Wisconsin State Journal
This story appeared first at news.wisc.edu.
In 2008, Kevin Gibbons began research in Uganda’s fishing communities. His goal, as a student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was to understand how efforts to promote sustainable fisheries affected family income.
And then a series of “smack yourself on the forehead” moments caused him to switch gears from fishery management to the problem of access to health care.
Today, Gibbons is executive director of Health Access Connect (HAC), a non-profit that merges microfinance and health-care access in Uganda. HAC lends to taxi drivers wanting to buy a motorcycle. In return, the driver agrees to spend three days a month transporting government health workers to nearby villages for a monthly clinic.
Gibbons received his Master’s degree from UW–Madison in 2012 in conservation biology and sustainable development.
The first head-smack occurred during interviews at a fishing community on the shore of Lake Victoria, when he learned that villagers were still dying of HIV/AIDS, even though the government was offering free, effective medicine just three miles away.
A second bit of enlightenment occurred at a remote island on Lake Victoria. “It was a very exotic trip, and I was enjoying myself,” Gibbons recalls. “When I asked about life on the island, my source said, ‘If I could leave, I would leave tomorrow. If I get sick, if a mother is in labor, or a child breaks an arm, it’s an eight-hour boat trip’” to the nearest clinic. Gibbons adds, “Afterwards, I didn’t see those hours-long motorcycle and boat rides in the same way.”
As Gibbons and HAC co-founder Carolyne Ariokot were incubating ideas to bridge the gap, a friend asked Gibbons for a loan to buy a motorcycle to use as a taxi, which is a standard way to get around in rural Uganda. “Mike Nsubuga walked me through the business,” Gibbons says. “Motorcycles cost $1,300, so most guys rent, which makes for an expensive, unstable livelihood.”
By 2014, he and Ariokot began to see a solution in micro-finance loans that would provide income and health transport.
Although treating HIV/AIDS had been the initial impetus for thinking about expanding the reach of existing health services, the goal has broadened.
“There are issues of privacy,” says Gibbons. “If that’s all we did, you would know that patients were HIV-positive. Also, there is demand for other services.”
Frequent clinic services include HIV and malaria testing, vaccines for children, family planning and perinatal care.
All care is delivered by government employees, Gibbons emphasizes, with HAC simply providing transport to and from the villages.
Lisa Naughton, who is chair of the department of geography at UW–Madison, says Gibbons was “a great communicator and a force for good in the world.” Naughton, who has studied the links between poverty and the environment in Uganda, says “you find people in the poorest remote areas, languishing, ill at home, because they can’t even get $3 to get to a clinic in a nearby town.”
With HAC’s win-win approach, she says, “A lot of young men are helping their homes and families by becoming motorcycle taxi drivers.”
Health Access Connect now has three full-time and three part-time employees. Motorcycle loans are just the start. HAC has bought four ambulance trailers that can trail behind a motorcycle, is surveying health access in Uganda, and it’s hiring. “The common thread is that we are always trying to serve the health needs of those in remote areas,” Gibbons says.
At present, HAC’s bread and butter is the micro-finance enabled transport of health workers. For the 18-month term of the loan, one motorcycle and its driver serve three villages with a monthly clinic. Then, if the driver has paid the loan every week, “he owns the motorcycle and is not obligated to drive for us,” Gibbons says. “At that point, we may keep them on retainer, or take the money and loan it out for another motorcycle.”
Committing three days will trim the driver’s income, “but it’s a great loan and a great opportunity,” Gibbons says. Over the 18-month course of one loan, he says, that driver can enable 2,625 people to be treated. “And it’s no problem at all to find guys who want a loan.”
Health Access Connect starts its annual fund-raiser on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28.