Strength in Connection:

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Strength In Connection, the October 2017 Global Health Institute Director’s Report is now available online.

  • Learn about GHI’s education program and our future leaders.
  • Check in with virus sleuth Tony Goldberg
  • See how GHI grants fuel research across campus
  • Discover how the GHI Quality Improvement Leadership Institute connected with the Dalai Lama
  • Understand how GHI is connecting health and climate for the benefit of all
  • Celebrate Cindy Haq’s next adventure
  • And more

Read the report.


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QI Institute brings together world health leaders to work on everyday challenges

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More than 30 of the world’s health leaders joined the QI Leadership Institute to tackle everyday health challenges in their countries.

“We need quality improvement now more than ever,” Lori DiPrete Brown, director of the Quality Improvement Leadership Institute, told 2017 closing symposium.  for the 2017 Quality Improvement (QI) Leadership Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Together, we can make life better for those we care for and strengthen our ability to be advocates and architects of system change.”

More than 30 health leaders from a nine countries and Wisconsin joined health science students and medical residents July 24 to 29, engaging with UW health experts, sharing leadership lessons and learning how to apply quality improvement principles to challenges they face. At the closing symposium, they presented concrete plans designed to improve health and well-being in their hospitals, clinics and communities.

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One Health idea gives Young African fellows new ways to promote health

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The concept of One Health gives Webby Phiri, a physician in Zambia, a new way to approach at health challenges.

The idea of One Health – that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected—presented new ways to address health challenges for the Mandela Washington Fellows visiting the University of Wisconsin-Madison this summer.

For Webby Phiri, a physician from Zambia, connecting environmental and human health gives him a new way to look at trachoma, a disease that can be spread by flies and lead to blindness. “By the time patients get to the medical side, it can be a bit too late,” says Phiri, one of 25 Mandela Washington Fellows representing 20 African countries who are spending 6 weeks at UW-Madison. Establishing strong relationships with environmental health and medicine could be important connections to battle the world’s top cause of preventable blindness.

Omari Mahiza, another Mandela fellow and physician from Tanzania, was delighted to find that One Health connects his two loves: medicine and farming. “One Health brings together agriculture, medicine and animal health, something I was wishing for for a long time,” says the 33-year-old father of two who is a pediatrician and hospital administrator and also raises chickens, grows garden vegetables and has a 7-acre farm where he harvests coconuts, mangoes and oranges.

“One Health brings together agriculture, medicine and animal health, something I was wishing for for a long time.”—Omari Mahiza, M.D., Tanzania

The Washington Mandela fellows visit to Madison is part of the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative begun by the U.S. government in 2014. This year almost 1,000 Africans between 25 and 35-years-old were selected to study at 38 host universities for academic coursework, leadership training and networking. The UW-Madison fellows are following a public management and leadership track, and the Global Health Institute (GHI) is among the campus groups that organized academic programs for them.

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New model helps cities make the case for bicycling and walking

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A GHI team is improving a model that will help cities assess the health benefits of policies and infrastructure that encourage bicycling and walking. Here, bicyclists cast shadows on the bike lane in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.)

We are a nation that caters to our cars. We build cities with 18-lane highways to accommodate them and erect three-car garages to house them. We take for granted the convenience of jumping into the car—or SUV or mini-van—to run down to the grocery store or drive to work. Usually traveling alone. Rarely considering an alternative, if one exists. Our streets clog, our air quality diminishes, and we face an epidemic of obesity.

But we love our cars. And when we make transportation plans, we want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to arrive on time without the headaches of a traffic jam.

 “You need vision to change the transportation system of a place. (This model) gives them evidence to get into that discussion.”—Jason Vargo

In the face of climate change and evidence of increasing ill health from ailments such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes, a trio of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Global Health Institute (GHI)—associate scientist Jason Vargo, public health research fellow Maggie Grabow and statistician and programmer Samuel Younkin—are expanding the transportation conversation. Instead of talking only about level of service, traffic counts, journey time or vehicle flow, they are adding health into the equation—and giving city planners, public health professionals and activists the ability to do the same.

The tool is called ITHIM, the Integrated Transport and Health Impact Model.  “It’s a way for people to talk about how things come together—funding, policies, energy, infrastructure, transportation, housing and health,” Vargo says. “I hope it will lead to more thoughtful urban policy that addresses more issues at the same time.”

By linking diverse sets of data, from transportation behavior to disease risk to air quality to traffic injuries to health outcomes and more, ITHIM provides hard evidence that shows how cities can improve health, save money and reduce greenhouse gases related to climate change when they promote biking and walking. When it’s complete, the model will allow planners to compare plans and determine the benefits of each in terms of fewer deaths, less illness and money saved on health-care. The model will show how to maximize health benefits. It also bridges the gap between health and transportation, giving advocates for each a way to talk together.

“Transportation planning occurs all the time with big impacts on population health, but health is not a consideration in the decision-making process.”—James Woodcock, University of Cambridge

The tool was originally developed at Cambridge University in England and first brought to the United States by the California Department of Public Health. The Wisconsin team is leading the development of an open-source U.S. version of the tool that will be a user-friendly and accessible way to inject health into conversations about transportation infrastructure, investments and policy.

“Transportation planning occurs all the time with big impacts on population health, but health is not a consideration in the decision-making process,” says ITHIM originator James Woodcock, programme lead at the Center for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine. He visited Madison recently to work with the GHI team. “ITHIM provides models, tools and evidence to make better decisions about health and improve the conversation.”

Providing hard numbers in Portland

For public health planners like Eric Main and Brendon Haggerty in Portland, Oregon, ITHIM, finally, gave them a way to talk about health in the context of transportation planning.

“It’s easy to talk about the health benefits of active transportation like walking and cycling, but in order for people to fully understand the importance, it’s beneficial to see that quantified: number of deaths reduced, years of life-lost reduced,” says Main, an analyst with the Oregon Health Authority. “With numbers, people pay more attention. It makes an even greater impact when there’s a monetization applied to those health benefits.”

This graphic shows ITHIM’s estimate of how changes in walking for average Americans could affect the years of life lived without disability or major diseases.

ITHIM showed Portland planners that policies and investments to lower greenhouse gas emissions could save up to 133 lives each year. ITHIM is also showing that making walking and biking safe and convenient, and providing incentives to expand the use of travel options will contribute to reducing health care costs by as much as $100 million by 2035.

Without ITHIM, the only nod transportation planning gave to health was in terms of safety or crash injuries, says Haggerty, an environmental health program specialist in the Multnomah (County) Health Department. “Transportation influences all the leading causes of death, in Multnomah County and in Oregon. We can’t make progress on our biggest public health challenges until we address how transportation influences health. … ITHIM represents an application of accumulated science on the ways transportation impacts health.”

The GHI team works with James Woodcock to refine the ITHIM model, from left, James Woodcock, Maggie Grabow, Samuel Younkin and Jason Vargo.

Active transportation: A benefit for the planet and its people

ITHIM makes a case for moving away from a car-centric mentality. “It is clear that replacing car travel with cycling or walking would benefit our health, as well as our environment,” Younkin says. “Our goal is to support evidence-based policy making by estimating the magnitude of those benefits.”

With ITHIM, for example, Wisconsinites could have shown the health benefits of a program such as Complete Streets—streets designed for the comfort and safety of all users—which was eliminated from the state budget in 2015. “We could say Complete Streets saves x-number of lives, improves health by this amount and reduces air pollution,” says Grabow, who looks for health in all policies. “It would have been great to have the model.”

Locked in a car culture, cities often only think of incremental changes that won’t change health outcomes, Vargo says. “You need vision to change the transportation system of a place. ITHIM gives them evidence to get into that discussion.”

By Ann Grauvogl/ July 13, 2017

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Research by GHI Associate Director Tony Goldberg reveals relationship between a virus, a parasite and an African bat

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If there is anything scientists are certain of when it comes to bats and their supposed role in causing human disease, it is that they still have a lot to learn.

Aside from well-established things like rabies virus, SARS coronavirus (the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome) and Marburg virus (an extremely dangerous but rare hemorrhagic fever pathogen), bats appear to carry a plethora of other germs with unclear effects, if any, on human health.

And even some commonly believed bat paradigms may be incorrect. For example, some speculate that bats play a role in the transmission of Ebola simply because Ebola and Marburg are related pathogens. But scientific evidence to support such speculation is scant, at best.

“The big picture relevance of the research is that if we’re going to understand the diversity of viruses in the world, we need to look in unusual places. We have a lot to learn about the basic distribution of species on the planet.”—Tony Goldberg, GHI associate director of research

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Tupesis helps link resident training and global health

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Janis Tupsis, an emergency physician and GHI collaborator, works with Ethiopian medical residents.

Medical residency training in the U.S. rests on 100 years of history that sends new doctors to U.S. hospitals to learn the intricacies of their chosen specialty, from cardiac and cancer care to family medicine. What residency programs are learning is how to integrate global health into that training.

That’s where Janis P. Tupesis from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Global Health Institute comes in. “The big push in a lot of disciplines is to integrate global health in residency training,” says Tupesis, an emergency physician, former UW Emergency Medicine residency director and current Graduate Medical Education-Global Health Institute liaison. “To develop new programs, you need to pay attention to how you go about it. How do we effectively and fairly partner with overseas medical groups?”

Tupesis explores those answers in two recent academic papers and a podcast released through the American Academy Emergency Medicine Resident and Student Association. He is also a volunteer technical consultant for the World Health Organization’s Emergency, Trauma and Acute Care Division, where he’s working on the division’s goal to create and implement an e-learning course. It’s based on the WHO Basic Emergency Care Course and will be available to tens of thousands of health care workers around the world.

Tupesis has worked on numerous global health and education projects in Liberia, Ethiopia and South Africa. “An ever-evolving body of literature and science shows when your students go abroad it gives them a different perspective,” he says.

“All of the core tenants of medicine are incredibly well-outlined in those (global) experiences, from broadened medical knowledge to understanding the social determinants of health.”—Janis Tupesis

Residents increasingly look for global health education, and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is also looking for an international global health track or one that takes residents to resource-limited or urban settings in the U.S. In “Taking It Global: Structuring Global Health Education in Residency Training,” lead author Gitanjli Arora from Kaiser Permenente Los Angeles, Tupesis and colleagues discuss how to incorporate ethical and sustainable global health education into U.S. residency programs. The article was published in the May 2017 Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Common challenges face global health education efforts

Resident training must be structured differently than medical school programs since residents are hospital employees, not students. Residents, who have earned their medical degree, agree to work for a hospital for a given period of time, and Medicare pays for part of that training. “Medicare won’t pay for you to be in Ethiopia,” Tupesis says. Residents also face administrative challenges when they work abroad, and hospitals face equal challenges to bring international residents into U.S. hospitals.

“A number of common challenges face global health education efforts, including: lack of access to didactic global health curricula and/or faculty expertise, limited partnerships with international institutions, concerns of burdening international partners rather than being of service, insufficient program funding, low levels of institutional support, and a multitude of logistical, legal, regulatory and administrative barriers,” according to the Internal Medicine article. The authors propose and explore four questions to guide the development of global health programs:

  • Who are you teaching?
  • How are you teaching?
  • What are the goals of your global health program?
  • What are your resources?

UW-Health is among the pioneers in global resident education with a decade of experience in offering residents and fellows a pathway to clinical and educational experiences abroad. Over the past five years, UW-Health has had more than 20 different clinical disciplines participating in programs in more than 20 countries. In his podcast for emergency medicine residents, Tupesis draws on that history to help listeners prepare for an international rotation, thinking about cultural humility, communications and what they will learn.

Resident concerns the same everywhere

In a second article. “Attitude of interns toward implementation and contribution of undergraduate Emergency Medicine training: Experience of an Ethiopian Medical School,” published in April in the African Journal of Emergency Medicine, Tupesis and colleagues found that Ethiopian medical students and residents are interested in more formal emergency medicine training at the Addis Ababa University School of Medicine. “We believe that there is a general consensus of the relevance of having undergraduate emergency medicine training and the further integration of emergency care into other clinical rotations,” the authors concluded. They recommended beginning emergency medical training in pre-clinical years focusing on skills such as clinical care, communication, leadership and education.

Tupesis served as a mentor for the project that allowed residents to assess their department, and he had done similar work in the U.S. “Learners and trainees have very similar goals and objectives and similar problems wherever you are,” he says.

By Ann Grauvogl/ July 12, 2017

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Climate change offers a comprehensive lens for public health

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Addressing climate change is a comprehensive way to improve public health, according to a new report co-authored by GHI’s Jason Vargo. (Photo from the United Nations.)

A new article in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, co-authored by Jason Vargo, Ph.D., MPH, an associate scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute and Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, suggests that addressing climate change offers the best means to ensure long-term public health.

“Emphasizing co-benefits, combining adaptation and mitigation efforts, and increasing interagency coordination can effectively address both public health and climate change issues,” according to “Climate Change and Public Policy,” which appeared in a special 2016 Public Health Law Conference supplement to the Spring 2017 issue of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. “This level of coordination and organization is challenging, but the health effects of climate change are so widespread, complex, and inimical to sustained well-being that it is essential that climate change should be the organizing principle for public health policymaking for the foreseeable future. Making climate change one of many policy priorities is insufficient. Simply, climate resilience is public health.”

“Everyone you talk to will say what they’re working on is a very important problem. And it is, and climate change will make that problem worse. Addressing climate change is an opportunity to address many problems, from heart disease to early childhood death to food security.”—Jason Smith, assistant professor, California State University, East Bay

Vargo joined lead author Jason A. Smith, MTS, J.D., an assistant professor at California State University, East Bay, and co-author Sara Pollock Hoverter, J.D., LL.M., a senior fellow at the Harrison Institute for Public Law at Georgetown Law, to present climate change and health information to a public health lawyers—a legal group that is more likely to focus on issues such as informed consent, food policy, gun laws and expanding access to care.

“This is a conscious effort by the organization to find out more about climate change and

Jason Vargo

health,” Vargo says. “My part is to show the scientific consensus on climate change, human contributions and what’s expected to happen to public health.” Vargo also pointed the lawyers toward leading scientific papers about climate change, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and The Lancet Report on Health and Climate Change.

“The evidence of climate change is unequivocal,” the authors write, citing a warming atmosphere, decreasing ice cover and rising sea levels. Human drivers of climate change are clear, and strong evidence shows that “health is sensitive to changes in the climate system.The most severe impacts are the expected exacerbation of existing health problems.”

Lead author Smith is a public health lawyer who believes climate change is the game-changing problem for his field. “If we snapped our fingers and solved this problem today, we’re still locked into a very significant period of disruption,” he says.

Smith’s interest in climate change grew after he moved to California and began experiencing climate change consequences, including the drought, in real-time. “I was amazed and shocked that very few people in public health are working on (climate change),” he says.

Public health tends to react to immediate challenges, such as adaptations for rising heat or ways to reduce gun violence, he says. Public health advocates tend to focus on 5- to 10-year budget cycles, not large, multi-decade problems.

“Everyone you talk to will say what they’re working on is a very important problem,” Smith says. “And it is, and climate change will make that problem worse. Addressing climate change is an opportunity to address many problems, from heart disease to early childhood death to food security,” he says.

The authors look to climate change as an organizing principle for public health action. Climate change is broad, comprehensive and interdisciplinary, and captures many substantive areas and health vulnerabilities, Vargo says. Addressing climate change addresses intergenerational health, which can help policy makers think about improving the health of generations to come.

By Ann Grauvogl/ May 24, 2017

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Celebrating the 2017 Global Health Certificate Graduates

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Global health certificate graduates celebrate completing their program May 4 at the Carson Gulley Center.

Graduate, professional, capstone and undergraduate students gathered to celebrate their global health certificate graduation on May 4 at the Carson Gulley Center. They were among the 275 students who received a Graduate|Professional|Capstone or Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health at the conclusion of the 2016-17 school year, the largest class in the GHI’s history. They included engineers, journalists, nurses, teachers, pharmacists, scientists and economists, all who devoted a significant portion of their time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to studying and understanding the determinants of health and disease.

“The classes I have taken through Global Health have transformed the way I think about the world. It has helped me see issues in a very intersectional manner, as I learned there was no simple cause or “solution” to any issue. It pushed me to be a better activist and understand my own identity more.” —Swetha Saseedhar, College of Letters and Science, undergraduate certificate earner

The undergraduate certificate is offered through a partnership between GHI and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. GHI and the Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and Public Health collaborate to offer the graduate|professional|capstone Certificate. The certificates’ coursework discusses health and particularly the need to improve access to care for all. They also introduce students to the field of public health, a model for promoting health and well-being that seeks to identify and address the root causes of health problems for populations rather than individuals. Through a nine or 15 credit program of preparatory course work culminating in a global health field experience, graduates are prepared to address health disparities in a context of cultural diversity.

“[The global health certificate was] one of the best decisions of my life as it helped me determine my future career goals.” —Madison Thalacker, College of Letters and Science, undergraduate certificate earner

Since the creation of the graduate|professional|capstone certificate in 2006 and the undergraduate certificate in 2011,188 students and 1,269 students, respectively, have completed the programs. The undergraduate certificate has quickly grown to be the largest certificate program on campus. Graduates have gone on to become global health leaders in Wisconsin and across the world.

Here is what a few of our graduates had to say about their experience with the GHI:

“The Global Health Certificate opened my eyes to health equity, both in my backyard and across the globe. It instilled a passion for community based public health work and provided me with a community of students and faculty concerned with social justice, health as a human right, and targeting vulnerable populations. This foundation was essential in directing my career path and I can’t wait to continue my knowledge in this immense and inspiring field.” —Emily Lynch, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, undergraduate certificate earner

“Thank you for opening my eyes to health and the disparities of health that are prevalent locally and worldwide.” —Amanda Winter, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, undergraduate certificate earner

“I’ve traveled abroad many times in the past, but this was the first time I went with a specific mission to help and understand public health concerns in a rural population.  It was my most rewarding trip to date and opened my eyes towards mitigating future public health threats. I am excited to continue research and working with vulnerable populations as they face emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats.” —Johnny Uelman, School of Medicine and Public Health, graduate|professional|capstone certificate earner

“I learned that to work in community with unique challenges, I have to form meaningful and long-term relationships with individuals and the community as a whole … I learned that it’s valuable to have patience and flexibility. Things can change in the community and your’ll have to go with the flow. … I learned about health promotion and prevention over treatment. I got to understand the challenges faced by the community, such as health care disparities and their impact.”—Drammeh Ummulkhair, School of Nursing, undergraduate certificate earner

Visit our Facebook page to view more pictures.

More information on the graduate|professional|capstone certificate and the undergraduate certificate.

By Catherine Goslin/ May 17, 2017

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UniverCity Year celebrates yearlong partnership with Monona

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UW System President Ray Cross, left, joins Monona resident Lindsay Wood Davis and UniverCity Year leader Jason Vargo during the May 3 celebration of the UniverCity Year-Monona project.

This story appeared first at

It’s called the UniverCity Year program, but it’s really an extension of the Wisconsin Idea. On May 3, students, faculty and community members gathered at the Lake Mendota Room inside Dejope Hall to celebrate the yearlong partnership between the city of Monona and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The program pairs academic courses, faculty, staff and students with projects identified by the community. Monona, a city of about 7,500 just outside Madison, was the first community to participate.

“It aligned perfectly with our mission to move knowledge and discoveries off the campus and into the real world,” said Charles Hoslet, vice chancellor for University Relations.

The program is modeled on an initiative at the University of Oregon that has been adopted by a number of other universities.

A student conceptualized a new design for Monona’s Winnequah Park as part of UniverCity Year.

Twenty-three UW–Madison classes participated, working on 30 projects. Monona identified four project areas to work on: parks and recreation, housing and economic development, “Connected Monona” and active transportation. Students, faculty and staff worked on the projects through courses as well as individual projects.

“We tackled projects the city of Monona had dreamed about and drew up plans for better housing, transportation, communications and for restoring and renewing some of Monona’s most precious resources — places like Ahuska Park,” Hoslet said.

UW System President Ray Cross called UniverCity Year the second iteration of the Wisconsin Idea and looks forward to seeing the program expand throughout the state. By strengthening the relationship between UW and communities, solutions can be found while giving students experience outside of the classroom, Cross said.

“I have always felt the university needs to examine more problems, because creativity and innovation almost always are spawned through the study of problems,” Cross said.

 Students in Life Science Communications produced service announcements on a variety of topics to air on WVMO, 98.7 FM, the Voice of Monona radio station. Subjects covered bike safety and promoting the Monona Senior Center and Monona Library, which can be heard here.

They also researched and recommended improvements to the master plans for Ahuska and Winnequah parks, focusing on increasing the usability of the parks, including improvements to lighting, pedestrian paths, sports fields, and restroom facilities. They also investigated sustainable environmental management improvements like irrigation, drainage, landscaping, shoreline restoration and turf management.

“It allowed us the luxury of exploring more unique projects,” said City of Monona Mayor Mary O’Connor. “UniverCity was a win-win for both the city of Monona and UW–Madison. Undergraduate and graduate students received real world experience and hopefully learned something new along the way.”

Tom Landgraf, a senior lecturer in the Department of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics, was thrilled to be able to be part of the partnership.’

“We tackled projects the city of Monona had dreamed about and drew up plans for better housing, transportation, communications and for restoring and renewing some of Monona’s most precious resources — places like Ahuska Park.”—Charles Hostlet

“I’ve always gone for real-life projects instead of thought-up projects,” Landgraf said.

Visitors examine plans for Monona created by UW-Madison students as part of the UniverCity Year program. (Photo by Kari Knutson.)

Students examined the current housing climate in Monona to inform redevelopment goals and select sites for redevelopment. They were able to meet with planning directors and city administrators to share their ideas.

“The enthusiasm was phenomenal,” Landgraf said. “What sounds like kind of simple thing — linking students with the university and the Wisconsin Idea — this is really the next step up. I was really pleased. I know the students were really excited.”

Jessie Conaway, faculty associate for Native Nations Partnerships, had her Environmental Studies Capstone course partner with Monona Parks & Recreation and Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Preservation. Projects centered around cultural research education and stewardship, including providing cultural resources in parks to educate elementary students.

“One of our initiatives coming out of the Nelson Institute is to partner more effectively and respectfully with the Wisconsin tribes in educational and conservation partnerships,” Conaway said.

“This UniverCity model was an opportunity for us to deliver that promise and develop curriculum that leverages indigenous perspectives and works to basically make more courses on campus for our students that features these indigenous perspectives on environment and culture.”—Jessie Conaway

Jason Vargo, an assistant scientist with the Nelson Institute and the Global Health Institute, leads the UniverCity Year initiative. UniverCity Year is a member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network, which Vargo currently chairs.

“We hope students get real experiences they’d put on their resumes,” Vargo said. “And some might even think about how to get involved outside the classroom.”

Following the success of the Monona partnership, the program will next work with the Dane County Board of Supervisors (made up of 37 elected representatives), the county’s legislative and policy-making body.

The Dane County partnership will begin in fall and include projects focused on sustainability and equity, which gives UniverCity Year the opportunity to include other disciplines like law, social work, nursing and public health, Vargo said.

“The potential for the impact of the work is really phenomenal in Dane County,” Vargo said. “We’re very excited to take on new projects. They’ve helped us as a program think about how we want to operate.”

Proposals are now being accepted from communities interested in partnering with UniverCity Year during the 2018 calendar year. Request for Proposals are due June 30, 2017. For more information, visit the UniverCity Year website or email

By Kari Knutson, University Communications/ May 9, 2017

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Christopher Olsen named Global Health Institute director of graduate certificate program

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Christopher Olsen, right, newly named GHI director of the Graduate|Professional|Capstone Certificate in Global Health, meets with Eric Bempong, principal of a veterinary college in Ghana. (Photo by Mary Crave.)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) is pleased to announce that Christopher W. Olsen, DVM, Ph.D., has been named director of the  Graduate|Professional|Capstone Certificate in Global Health program.

He will lead graduate global health education activities and serve as the certificate’s faculty advisor. “I am passionate about educating students to meet the health challenges that we face around the world today,” says Olsen, a professor emeritus of public health in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Pathobiological Sciences and former acting director of GHI. “In this position, I will work to make it possible for more students from all across the campus to be able to complete the certificate.”

The Graduate|Professional|Capstone certificate program was launched in 2006 and has seen 163 graduates from disciplines across campus, including the health sciences, engineering, social work, life sciences communication, and more. The certificate program is designed to teach future leaders to work across boundaries to find new solutions for health. GHI offers the certificate in collaboration with the Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and Public Health.  “I realize I have big shoes to fill, following the strong leadership of Lori DiPrete Brown (the certificate’s founding director),” Olsen says.

More than 1,036 graduate and professional students have also participated in field experiences, including faculty-led courses, independent studies, and internships.

“The bones of the certificate program continue to rest on a strong foundation of commitment to multi-disciplinary perspectives, a real strength of UW-Madison,” Olsen says.

“The certificate reflects GHI’s dedication to addressing the complex and interlinked root causes of health challenges. From climate change and health to malnutrition, stunting and starvation to emerging infectious diseases, our global health challenges demand answers and collaborative work across many disciplines.”—Christopher Olsen

Olsen brings with him a wealth of global health experience. He was among the UW-Madison leaders from medicine, pharmacy, nursing, veterinary medicine and international studies who saw the need and found the means to establish a formal UW-Madison Center for Global Health, GHI’s precursor, in 2005. He helped create the global health certificate’s Thailand field course and taught for many years in the Ecuador field course. He also led a decade-long series of international workshops at UW-Madison on transboundary foreign animal diseases. Olsen is currently completing a Baldwin grant-funded project in Ghana to develop One Health and girls’ empowerment curricula for junior high school students.

Olsen previously served in campus administrative positions, as veterinary medicine’s associated dean for academic affairs (2007-2012), vice provost for teaching and learning for UW-Madison (2012-2014), and acting director of GHI (2014-2015). He has been affiliated with the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program since its inception and, in his new role, will return to service on the MPH Steering Committee. Olsen is also a member of the 4W leadership circle, as well as the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education Editorial Board.

Olsen received his DVM and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the UW-Madison before joining the faculty in 1994. Olsen’s research focused on the public health aspects of influenza in animals and the viral and host factors that control transmission of influenza viruses among people and animals. He also has strong educational interests in zoonotic infectious diseases, in building bridges between the veterinary medical and human medical professions, and in promoting cross-disciplinary One Health approaches for global and public health. Olsen has published more than 65 refereed research and educational journal articles, as well as numerous proceedings and book chapters. He is also the recipient of several faculty honors, including election to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Academy, and the SVM’s Norden Distinguished Teacher Award and Walter F. Renk Distinguished Professor Award.

GHI works at the intersection of health, justice and sustainability to uncover and address the roots of health challenges—from food scarcity and lack of vaccines to air pollution, the need for health training and more. Through education, research and outreach, the Institute engages partners from across campus and works with governments, non-governmental organizations and communities in Wisconsin and across the world. UW-Madison, with its tradition of collaboration and 21 centrally-located schools, colleges and institutes, is considered a leader in this “health in all policies” approach to global health. In addition to co-managing the Graduate|Professional|Capstone Certificate, GHI also works with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to offer the Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health.

By Ann Grauvogl/ May 3, 2017

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New global health awards tackle sustainable diets, antimicrobial resistance, domestic violence and more

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Yoshi Kawaoka, a professor in the department of pathobiological sciences, left, established collaborative research in Sierra Leone during the Ebola virus outbreak and has now received a GHI Seed Grant to identify neglected and new human viruses in Africa. (Photo courtesy of the Kawaoka lab.)

Drawing on expertise from schools and colleges across campus, the 2017 University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) grant recipients showcase the breadth of disciplines needed to ensure health for all—from infectious diseases to economics, dairy science to biochemistry to medicine.

The awards, announced today, go to faculty, staff and students in Human Ecology (SoHE), Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), Letters and Science (L&S), and Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). They include six Seed Grants, three Graduate Student Research Awards, three Visiting Scholar Awards and one Faculty and Staff Travel Award.

This year’s grantees address topics from emerging infectious diseases to school milk programs, domestic violence to food security. They will bring visitors to UW-Madison to explore how fungi spread and to establish collaborations to improve women’s well-being and connect cities to their surroundings.

The Global Health Institute is dedicated to using the full breadth and depth of campus expertise to tackle today’s pressing global health problems and educate a new cadre of global health scholars and leaders. The grants and awards foster collaborative projects that address the complex determinants of health and disease, and ensure equitable and sustainable health for people, all life and the planet.

The Seed Grants, especially, are designed to launch new global research projects and make them competitive for sustained external funding. Seed Grants carry the largest awards of up to $50,000 each. This year’s recipients come from four schools and colleges.


Seed Grants

  • Nasia Safdar, M.D., Ph.D., vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine, SMPH, leads a team that will tackle antimicrobial resistance, beginning with a one year pilot project in India. “Antibiotic resistance is a global public health crisis,” Safdar writes in her proposal. Ajay Sethi, an associate professor in population health sciences, and Dawd Siraj, a professor of medicine, join Safdar and partners in New Delhi on the project.

“Antimicrobial resistant infections kill. … Antimicrobial resistance hampers control of infectious diseases. … Antimicrobial resistance increases the costs of health care, jeopardizes health care gains to society and damages both trade and economics.” —Nasia Safdar, Department of Medicine

  • Michel Wattiaux, a professor in dairy science, CALS, and Heidi Busse, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, SoHE, lead the School Enrichment and Livelihoods Accelerated through Milk project to strengthen multisector collaborations linking dairy development with school milk programs in rural Ethiopia. The project aligns with the Ethiopian government’s priorities by helping to improve nutrition for children and communities, increase the incomes of smallholder farmers and enhance the mental, psycho-social and physical development of the next generation. Wattiaux and Busse are joined by Brian Christens, an associate professor in civil society and community studies, SoHE, and Ann Evensen, an associate professor in family medicine and community health, SMPH. Together, they will work with Ethiopian and Wisconsin partners from government, university and non-profit sectors, building upon prior partnerships to help ensure sustainability.
  • Jeremy Foltz, professor of agricultural and applied economics, CALS, will examine the effects of the Dodd-Frank legislation (it called for tracing the origins of conflict metals and led to the closing of mines) on domestic and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Currently, the European Union and United States are considering further changes to conflict minerals legislation. “While it is generally accepted that Dodd-Frank caused significant declines in 3T (columbite-tantalum, tin and tungsten) mining, it is less clear whether or not ‘Obama’s Law,’ as it is known in local vernacular, has benefitted Congolese citizens,” Foltz writes in his application.
  • Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, Ph.D., professor of pathobiological sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine, will catalog viruses circulating among West Africans with an eye to improving diagnoses, identifying new viruses and, potentially, preventing the next epidemic. “Neglected viruses … and novel viruses represent a major health risk for human populations,” he writes in his application. Ebola, which was not considered a major threat prior to the 2013 to 2016 outbreak, is an example. Without early diagnosis, the outbreak grew.

“The global health community must remain vigilant. The increase in global travel, overlap of human and animal habitats, climate changes and bush meat trafficking may facilitate the emergence and reemergence of viruses in the human population, potentially resulting in devastating outbreaks.”—Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Department of Pathobiological Sciences

  • James Ntambi, professor of biochemistry, CALS, and John Ferrick, associate director of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences International Programs, will work with the UW-Madison student organization, Village Health Project, to maximize crop output and add livestock, including cows, pigs, ducks and chickens, to Ugandan farms. A third of the children younger than five and 60 percent of their deaths are linked to undernutrition, “Although the causes of undernutrition in Uganda vary by region, they include availability and access to food, lack of dietary diversity and levels of poverty,” Ferrick writes. Introducing livestock to farms can have many benefits, from reliable fertilizer for crops to more dietary choices to jobs and education.
  • Leonelo Bautista, associate professor of population health sciences, SMPH, will develop tools to accurately predict the risk of cardiovascular disease in Latin America. His team will estimate the prevalence of major risk factors and the incidence of cardiovascular disease, and recalibrate and validate the Framingham equation, a commonly used tool for predicting the risk of cardiovascular disease. He will work with partners from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, and the University of Washington-Seattle.

Graduate Research Awards

  • Yoo Jiah, Department of Psychology, L&S, “Culture shapes appraisal and cardiovascular recovery from anxiety.”
  • Kaitlin Faye Mitchell, Department of Population Health Sciences, SMPH, “Impact of hospital antimicrobial stewardship policies in Manila, Phillipines.”
  • Iseli Hernandez, Psychology, L&S, “Cultural differences in parent-child endorsement of germ and cold weather theories of the common cold.”

Visiting Scholar Awards

  • Araceli Alonso, associate faculty in gender and women’s studies, L&S, will host Teresa Langle de Paz from the Autonomous University of Madrid ( Spain)- Foundation for a Culture of Peace to discuss a transnational approach to health, well-being and women’s leadership and consolidate collaborations for the UNESCO Chair on Gender, Well-being and a Culture of Peace. The women are co-directors of the chair awarded to UW-Madison.
  • Mary Beth Collins, director of the Centers for Research and Public Affairs, SoHE, will host Adriana Olivares from the University of Guadalajara, for two weeks to discuss collaborations for campus-community engagement projects related to the Connecting Landscapes project and the environmental landscape museum in Guadalajara, Mexico.
  • Anne Pringle, associate professor of botany, L&S, will host Martina Iapichino, a doctoral student from the Insitut de Physique de Nice, Universite Cote d’Azur, to collaborate and better understand the complex determinants of spore movement, which drives fungal diseases that affect people and ecosystems.

Faculty and Staff Travel Award

  • Bret Shaw, associate professor in life sciences communication, CALS, will visit Majimbo in western Kenya to conduct research and develop a communication plan to promote nutrition, food security and entrepreneurship through sustainable urban gardening in the region’s secondary schools.

This is the fourth year, GHI has awarded grants to UW-Madison researchers. Previous projects have resulted in multiple papers and peer-reviewed articles and dozens of professional presentations. Researchers developed an app that gives emergency room physicians the hospital-specific information they need and have received further funding from outside sources.

By Ann Grauvogl/ April 24, 2017

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Zero TB for Tibetan Kids

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Madison’s Zorba Paster, second from left, first invited the Delek Hospital team to GHI’s Quality Improvement Institute, where they developed a TB project that attracted the Dalai Lama’s support.

The project began in 2015 in a University of Wisconsin-Madison classroom. Madison’s Dr. Zorba Paster invited Tibetan health leaders from Dharamshala, India to participate in the UW-Madison’ Global Health Institute’s week-long Quality Improvement (QI) Leadership Institute. Their goal? To wipe out tuberculosis in Tibetan schools and monasteries, where the infection rate is six times higher than the global average. The effort will make a difference in their community and show that death and illness due to TB can be eliminated.

Fast forward two years. The Dalai Lama meets with the TB team led by Dawa Phunkyi, CEO of Delek Hospital, Paster and colleagues Kunchok Dorjee and Dick Chaisson from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They explain the TB dilemma, and the Dalai Lama agrees to record a public service message in Tibetan to underline the threat of the disease. He urges civil, government, school and religious leaders to work together on a new project, Zero TB in Tibetan Kids: Training to End TB Now.

“I hear you say that eliminating TB in Tibetan children is an achievable goal. Unlike many other diseases, TB is curable so it must be eliminated. … We should never let down our guard in the goal to eliminate TB.”—the Dalai Lama

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The Wisconsin Idea in action:

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The Wisconsin Idea guides the Global Health Institute’s mission to collaborate and ensure sustainable health for all.


Emerging infectious diseases. Adequate food and safe water. Access to education. Women’s well-being. Childhood mortality. Biodiversity loss. Climate change. The major public health challenges of our time demand that we reach across disciplines and intentionally collaborate to ensure sustainable health for all—all people, all life, even the planet itself.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Global Health Institute (GHI) builds on an institutional legacy of cross-sector collaboration and community engagement to advance global health. This legacy is defined by the Wisconsin Idea, which suggests the boundaries of the university must expand to include the world, and it pushes GHI to catalyze and convene faculty, staff, students, and practitioners from every discipline and from communities around the world. Together, these partners address how social, medical, economic, political, and environmental factors influence well-being. Through interdisciplinary programs across the educational spectrum and with its history of global outreach, GHI also inspires and trains the next generation of global health practitioners and leaders.

Keith Martin, executive director of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, saw a unique symbiosis at UW-Madison that continues to drive GHI’s success. “Universities have a difficult time breaking down silos,” he said. “(The University of Wisconsin) started with a foundation of cooperation, and you built on it.”

“The Wisconsin Idea is a marvelous template for other institutions, as a foundation on which they can build to reduce siloing and increase cooperation; and, in doing that, everybody will be enriched.”—Keith Martin, executive director, Consortium of Universities for Global Health

From Personal to Planetary

GHI is defined by its commitment to a sustainable model of global health that includes the entire spectrum from personal to environmental to planetary health. The institute is guided by a “global health ethic” that recognizes that individual health is linked to health for all. This ethic  nurtures a respect for community and calls for society to address challenges of such magnitude that progress in alleviating such issues will be measured in generations. It  is inspired by Wisconsin conservationist and UW professor Aldo Leopold, whose famous land ethic reads: “All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts.”

“It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to the land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land and a high regard for its value.”—Aldo Leopold

The One Health model—recognizing the health of humans, animals, and the ecosystems we all share are interdependent—provides a framework that brings together human health care with other disciplines to address complex challenges across sectors. This fundamental belief in the interconnectedness of health and disease, locally and globally—and the university’s obligation to take on these challenges—has been part of UW-Madison’s global health enterprise since the late 1990s. “Globalization, migration, and widespread health disparities call for interdisciplinary approaches to improve health care at home and abroad,” a team of UW global health pioneers reflected in the February 2008 issue of Academic Medicine. “Our academic institutions have the potential to serve as portals to introduce students to the great health disparities and challenges of our times, and to prepare faculty and students to address urgent health needs at home and abroad.”

The One Health concept brings human health and veterinary medicine students together on projects that benefit all. Here, medical students distribute dog wormer in Ecuador.

Why UW-Madison?

GHI’s mission to bring the energy of the whole university to bear on global health challenges is rooted in the Wisconsin Idea, which aims to put education and research at the service of improving quality of life in Wisconsin and across the world. It’s manifest in the university’s acknowledged role in establishing the state’s dairy industry and discovering and applying Vitamin D for health. It pushed the university to establish the Division of University Extension to share knowledge across the state—seven years before the federal government founded the Cooperative Extension. Today, the commitment to multi-sector collaboration can be found in some of the campus’s pre-eminent initiatives, including the Wisconsin Energy Institute, the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies— and the Global Health Institute.

This is a public land-grant university with more than 43,000 students, 21,000 faculty and staff, the fifth-highest research expenditures in the nation, and the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers. The roots of its collaborative culture can be found in a late-1800s decision to incorporate the more practical land-grant colleges into the existing University of Wisconsin instead of following other states to establish separate land-grant institutions. That decision brings together 21 schools, colleges, and institutes—including medicine and public health, agriculture and life sciences, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, nursing, law, engineering, arts and sciences, human ecology, and business—on a single, central campus.

Members of widely different academic disciplines work side by side, take advantage of intentional meetings, and enjoy the advantage of serendipitous encounters that spark new ideas and remarkable cross-sector collaboration. “By the 21st century when interdisciplinarity has become so important, this decision seems like genius,” Gwen Drury wrote. “In reality, it was probably just a frugal measure at the time.”

Our history

The earliest discussions about formalizing UW-Madison’s global health activities grew out of student interest in international experiences, faculty and staff desire to expand international health programs, and the university plan to accelerate internationalization. Leaders from medicine, pharmacy, nursing, veterinary medicine, and international studies saw the potential for a global health center that would address health disparities through lasting interdisciplinary collaborations, producing benefits for all. The Center for Global Health (CGH), established in 2005, morphed into the Global Health Institute after the university’s reaccreditation study reaffirmed that interdisciplinary research is “at the creative center of UW-Madison’s mission” and necessary to confront complex challenges.

GHI Director Jonathan Patz, a global climate and health expert, brings together disciplines from across campus and the world to improve health for all. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Organized in 2011, GHI was designed to consolidate campus-wide global health efforts beyond—and including—the traditional health sciences programs. It served the goals of the reaccreditation report that called for promoting and supporting interdisciplinary research, fostering global proficiencies for students, and working on the cutting edge of global issues—“not only in expanding our understanding of our changing world, but also in connecting this understanding to decision making, public policy, and real-world practice. More than nearly any other university, our faculty, staff, and students are personally dedicated to pushing the frontiers of interdisciplinary research, and to using this new knowledge to make the world a better place.”

In this purposeful, campus-wide expansion, GHI’s charter called for the institute “to discover underlying determinants of global health, no matter the complexity, and in so doing, attain more lasting solutions within and across populations.”

The institute was the first of its kind in the nation to focus on the root determinants of health from across multiple sectors. It connects collaborators through its programs and relationships, and encourages interdisciplinary projects through its Seed Grant program, designed to provide start-up dollars for projects that can then be more competitive for outside funding.

“Too many of our global health interventions are narrowly focused, and, as we try to solve one problem, we inadvertently can create two or three more,” says environment and health pioneer Jonathan Patz, M.D., MPH, who became GHI director in 2011. “This responsibility takes an orchestrated effort. So we are bringing together faculty, staff, and students from across campus to address the health implications of climate change, urban design, air quality, water safety, food security, gender inequality, access to care, and more. We want our approach to disease prevention to be as comprehensive as possible.”

In connecting internationally-recognized scholars and practitioners with communities in Wisconsin and across the world, GHI recognizes that health issues transcend national boundaries and that local partnerships bring critical wisdom to the search for solutions.

“Only they who are on the ground, living the challenges and understanding what really goes on in their location will have any clue how we might be able to help.”—Jonathan Patz

For researchers such as Jeremy Foltz, Ph.D., a professor of agricultural and applied economics and GHI grant recipient, the institute is crucial to making connections. “These are big issues with a lot of intellectual moving parts,” he said. “What’s important is the ability to be able to access other bits of knowledge on this campus and do joint projects. The promise of GHI is to bring everybody in.”

Educational Excellence

The global interest of students, faculty, and staff, and the collaborative nature of the university have allowed GHI to create interdisciplinary and inter-professional educational opportunities, from the Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health (offered with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences) and Graduate/Professional/Capstone Certificate (offered with the School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Population Health Sciences) to opportunities in graduate medical education and for health care professionals. “UW-GHI (educational) programs emphasize interdisciplinary inquiry, place-based study, and immersion learning through required faculty-mentored global health field experiences,” wrote Lori DiPrete Brown, MSPH, MTS., GHI associate director for education and engagement, in a 2014 Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics article. “This interdisciplinary integration occurs in core and elective courses as well as the field experiences, with the undergraduate program including the various college majors, and the graduate program bringing together the health science professions.”

From 2007 to 2016, more than 160 students, from fields as diverse as health professions, engineering, French studies, and nutritional sciences, earned a Graduate/Professional/Capstone Certificate in Global Health. Since 2010, more than 1,000 students, pursuing 62 majors in seven schools and colleges, earned the undergraduate certificate, which is similar to a minor. Global health has become the largest certificate program on campus, now with more than 500 students participating each year. More than 1,200 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate/professional students have participated in global health field experiences that include faculty-led courses, internships, clerkships, and independent field studies.

In field courses, students collaborate with communities on projects that will improve health. Here, they help gather mud that will be used to make plaster for a school’s walls.

The education program, with its international field courses, was foundational to UW-Madison’s global health mission and “mobilized interdisciplinary groups around the goals of promoting health for all,” according to Cindy Haq, M.D., a professor of Family Medicine and Population Health Sciences as well as the center’s inaugural director. Those resulting collaborations improved nutrition in Uganda, bettered animal health and addressed domestic violence in Mexico, examined successful public health projects in Thailand, and much more.

 Collaborating for health care quality and innovation

With deep roots in the health sciences, GHI has been central to initiatives that are improving access to health care and improving the quality of that care. The strength of our health care projects lies in the internationally-recognized researchers and practitioners in the UW-Madison global health community and their strong networks of local and international collaborators.

Thanks to a GHI grant, Aracelli Alonso worked with these Kenyan women to establish Health by Motorbike. (Photo by Aracelli Alonso.)

These UW experts provide technical assistance, facilitate joint learning, and spur innovations through education, training, and quality improvement programs. An emergency room physician, for example, used a GHI Seed Grant to work with clinicians, educators, researchers, and IT professionals to develop a mobile telephone app that lets South African emergency room physicians quickly access the location-specific information they need. A pediatric infectious disease specialist works with local leaders to improve immunization programs in Nepal, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. A world-renowned palliative care leader is on the front lines to secure needed opioids for pain relief among world populations, and an obstetrician/gynecologist collaborates with local partners in Ethiopia and Wisconsin to give women in low-resource settings a range of contraceptive choices, including long-acting reversible contraceptives.

Girma Tefera, M.D., a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Surgery and an Ethiopian native, laid the groundwork for extensive, ongoing projects through a bilateral twinning agreement between UW-Madison and Addis Ababa University. The work expanded from emergency medicine to family medicine to pediatrics. Residency programs, quality improvement initiatives, and training for numerous health care workers resulted from these collaborative efforts. GHI leveraged Tefera’s network to expand Ethiopian collaborations with air quality, city improvement, and energy projects. Still others are maximizing hydropower and introducing healthy, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes to farmers.

Tefera welcomes the expanding collaborations in his homeland.

“Health is not only giving medicines and vaccines. People also need to be able to eat right. You need clean water and clean air to breathe. The list is fairly long. … That’s why everybody needs to chip in.”—Girma Tefera, UW surgeon

Each year, GHI brings its health care community together to work with international health care leaders during the Quality Improvement (QI) and Leadership Institute. In six years, 111 participants from 16 countries have worked with each other and UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students to initiate or improve health-related in their home countries.

Connecting place, health, environment

As a climate and health pioneer, GHI Director Patz is a leading global voice connecting climate change and health and recognizing the health opportunities that come from limiting fossil fuels. His work brings together engineers, air pollution experts, health and environmental scientists, and local partners to bring theory to practice and positively affect climate policy worldwide.

The UniverCity Alliance, co-founded by GHI, works to foster sustainable, livable cities across the globe. In Ethiopia, teams are reclaiming Bahir Dar’s bicycling culture, addressing air pollution in Addis Ababa, and bringing electrical microgrids to rural villages. In Guadalajara, Mexico, collaborators are working with a new environmental science museum that will explicitly connect the city to the landscapes surrounding it and give people ideas that can better inform their behavior choices. UniverCity Alliance is also making the local-to-global connection. This year the initiative launched its first UniverCity Year project with Monona, Wisconsin, bringing students from a dozen university courses to work on city priorities. Plans are underway to scale up UniverCity Year throughout the state.

Connecting Women and Well-being in Wisconsin and the World

The 4W (Women and Well-being in Wisconsin and the World) Initiative, co-convened by GHI, brings together leaders from gender and women’s studies, Afro-American studies, law, human ecology, medicine and public health, engineering, nursing, education, and more. Led by GHI’s   DiPrete Brown, the initiative is grounded in human-rights principles and works toward equal rights for women and girls through recognizing the role that women play in sustaining families, communities, civil society, economies, and the planet. 4W’s initial projects are contributing to the end of human trafficking, establishing equality for women and men in relationships, using motorbikes to deliver health care to rural African women, and supporting microenterprise.

4W also was key in the establishment of the UNESCO Chair on Gender, Well-being and a Culture of Peace at UW-Madison. The chair creates a global platform for 4W and underscores the university’s interdisciplinary ethic that allows faculty, staff, and students to engage with complex issues from many perspectives.

Collaborating for One Health

GHI has, since its inception, embraced the One Health framework, as veterinary medicine experts and human health researchers, educators, and clinicians shaped the institute. The outbreaks of the Ebola and Zika viruses dramatically underlined the essential importance of understanding the animal/human interface for infectious diseases. These recent epidemics catalyzed the whole of campus, joining researchers in epidemiology, pathology, pathobiology, obstetrics, environmental health, and medical history with health practitioners and the capabilities of the UW insectarium (co-funded by GHI) and the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. Together, they worked on solutions, from potential vaccines to mosquito control to a documentary that gave a human face to the Ebola crisis in Liberia.

GHI also will be closely aligned with the new Upper Midwestern Center for Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases, funded by a $10 million Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant and headed by two members of the GHI Advisory committee.

A GHI Seed Grant gave a scientist and humanities scholar resources to explore water quality and behavior that influence it at Lake Victoria. (Photo by Jessica Corman.)

Looking to the future

“The university role today (in global health) is more important than ever, particularly in the communication of the problem, the communication of the solution, and having the ability to build capacity and engage in service,” CUGH’s Martin said. “The advantage will be with those who embrace evidence-based solutions to make countries safer, freer, and more vibrant with people who are safe and secure. It’s a race to the top.”

More than ever, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute recognizes the unending challenges in improving the health and well-being of the planet and the life it supports. With its roots in the Wisconsin Idea and Leopold’s land ethic, GHI demonstrates how a leading public university can bring disciplines together from across campus to collaborate, rather than compete, for the social good. This model develops and supports education, research and partnerships in Wisconsin and across the world, giving students the tools to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world, opening mutually beneficial relationships with communities, and furthering science that will lead to new solutions. The path to the future lies in leveraging and fostering new and existing networks across campus, within countries, and among academic institutions, connecting ideas and action for the good of us all.

 By Ann Grauvogl/ March 28, 2017


This article is based on previous papers by UW-Madison global health leaders:

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Vandana Shiva keynotes 2017 4W Summit

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Listen to Vandana Shiva’s keynote address.

Vandana Shiva will deliver the keynote lecture at the 4W Summit.

A Time magazine environmental hero and one of Forbes seven most powerful women on the globe, Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., delivers the keynote address on April 27 for this year’s 4W Summit on Women, Gender and Well-being. Her presentation, which is free and open to the public, also serves as this year’s J. Jobe and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Lecture sponsored by the Human Rights Program.

Diverse and inclusive gender perspectives and environmental sustainability are core themes of this year’s 4W Summit, says 4W Director Lori DiPrete Brown, who is also associate director at the UW-Madison Global Health Institute. “Vandana Shiva has been a leading voice in these fields for many years. She offers a true, feminist challenge to so many of the conservations about sustainability, privileging and the quantitative knowledge system. Her holism invites us to bring in other knowledge systems, whether cultural or disciplinary.”

The three-day 4W Summit April 27 to 29 gives voice to several hundred regional, national and international participants who will present their research, scholarship, arts, activism and educational strategies in a series of breakout sessions Friday and Saturday. It is hosted by the UW-Madison 4W (Women and Well-being in Wisconsin and the World) Initiative and the UW Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium. It is convened under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair on Gender, Wellbeing and a Culture of Peace, part of the United Nations’ platform on education, science and culture.

The 2017 summit is the 40th gathering of the Wisconsin women’s and gender studies academic community. “In collaborating with the 4W Initiative we have expanded our focus, our participants and our audience to come together to examine women’s well-being in a global context, across all schools and disciplines,” says Helen Klebesadel, 4W Summit co-chair, and Director of the Women and Gender Studies Consortium.

Public invited to hear diverse voices

Keynote speaker Vandana Shiva is a spokeswoman for sustainability and gender equality.

Shiva is the founder and director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun, India. Trained as a physicist, she is well-known for her interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy and her activism for protecting biodiversity, promoting sustainable agriculture and championing gender equity. She will present, “Women Lead the Way: From Violence to Non-Violence, from Greed to Sharing, from Hate to Love,” at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 27, in the Pyle Center Alumni Lounge.

The Shiva presentation is among several events that are free and open to the public. At 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 27, following Shiva’s talk, the summit hosts a showing of “Why Women Need to Climb Mountains: A journey through the life and work of Dr. Gerda Lerner.” The film details the life and work of the activist, social reformer, feminist historian and UW-Madison professor, and the evening includes a virtual question and answer session with German filmmaker Renata Keller.

Ada Deer joins a Native American panel that looks at multiple ways of knowing.

The summit’s five plenary sessions and a film celebrating the 40th anniversary of women’s and gender studies at UW-Madison are also open to the public. Native American advocate Ada Deer, a member of the Menominee Tribe and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, joins Native American panelists to consider multiple ways of knowing. The African American Health Network of Dane Country sponsors a panel that will look beyond the stereotypes of African American women, considering how these women have managed to survive and thrive amid often hostile environments.

The 4W plenary sessions by design offer diverse perspectives on contemporary issues facing women, DiPrete Brown says. “When women lead the way, we hope we remember our history and make places for historically marginalized voices. We want our work to be informed by the lived experiences of women from Wisconsin and around the world. It’s part of making the local-to-global connection.”

The plenary sessions will be Friday and Saturday at the Pyle Center:

  • Presenters from Egypt, Australia, India and the USA participate in “Transformative Transnational Feminism: Theory and Praxis for the Future of Feminism” at 9:15 a.m., Friday, April 28.
  • Teresa Langle de Paz, co-director of the UNESCO Chair on Gender, Well-being and a Culture of Peace, moderates “Democracy, Gender and Transformative Education in Europe: The Case of Spain.” Panelists explore how the Spanish democracy developed policies to support gender equality as part of democracy. The session begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 28, in the Pyle Center.
  • UW-Madison’s Earlise Ward and Janean Dilworth-Bart join a panel that looks at “African American Women Beyond the Stereotypes.” Panelists will explore the multilayered identities and roles of African American women with a focus on mental health and wellness, resiliency and the sustainability movement. The discussion begins at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, April 28, in the Pyle Center.
  • UW-Madison’s Jean Geran, Aracelli Alonso and Amy Bintliff lead a discussion about the STREETS, or Social Transformations to End Exploitation and Trafficking for Sex, project looking at “Survivor and Educator Perspectives on Human Trafficking Education.” Alonso is also co-director of the UNESCO Chair. The session begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 29.
  • Ada Deer joins members of the Choctaw, Standing Rock Sioux, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe and Bad River Ojibwe tribes to discuss “Multiple Ways of Knowing: Insights Grounded in Indigenous Experiences.” The discussion begins at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, April 29, in the Pyle Center.

A long history of women’s studies

The 2017 4W Summit builds on 40 years of UW System faculty, staff and students coming together to create an academic community focused on and defined by the lived experiences of women, Klebesadel says. In 1976, UW-Madison librarians convened the first women’s studies conference in the UW system. Their theme was “Development of Resources for Women’s Studies in the UW System.”

The summit will celebrate the 40th anniversary of UW-Madison’s Office of the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian with, “Step by Step: Building a Feminist Movement.” The film at 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, documents how a diverse group of Midwestern women contributed to the larger feminist movement.

4W became a co-host of the annual conference last year. The 4W Initiative is co-convened by the School of Human Ecology, UW-Madison Global Health Institute, and Department of Gender and Women’s Studies.

Registration is requested, not required.

By Ann Grauvogl/ March 27, 2017

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