Global Health Institute – UW–Madison University of Wisconsin-Madison Fri, 12 Oct 2018 14:18:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Scientific American: Trump’s Irresponsible Denial of Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Deaths Thu, 11 Oct 2018 14:20:06 +0000 Isthmus: The college try — How the Wisconsin Idea reached one of the poorest regions in Sierra Leone Wed, 10 Oct 2018 16:30:07 +0000 The Hill: Global health security threats — despite worldwide responses, there’s much more to do Wed, 10 Oct 2018 14:30:31 +0000 CNN: As global temperatures rise, so will mental health issues, study says Tue, 09 Oct 2018 15:14:54 +0000 Call for abstracts: UW National One Health Day Colloquium Tue, 09 Oct 2018 15:05:20 +0000 Submissions from all disciplines and from University of Wisconsin-Madison students, faculty, staff and community members are welcome to showcase the full spectrum of education, research and outreach activities around One Health, on campus and in the community.

The colloquium will feature a keynote speaker followed by a series of five minute, one-slide flash talks about One Health projects or experiences and food throughout. ​Share how your work or experiences exemplifies the connections between humans, animals and the environment​ during one of the flash talks.

Abstracts must be received by Monday, October 29​. Speakers will be notified if their talk has been selected by November 1st. A slide template will be provided to the speakers selected to give a flash talk. More information can be found here.

Building Community 2018: A Global Health Celebration Thu, 04 Oct 2018 20:41:46 +0000 Join the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute for Building Community 2018: A Global Health Celebration. The evening is a chance to eat, drink, share, laugh, learn and be inspired by the university’s contributions to global health.

The celebration will be Thursday, October 18, from 5:00-7:15 p.m. in the Mendota Room at Dejope Hall. Tickets are $10 each and include a drink ticket. There’s a $5 discount for new graduates (2013-2018.)

Register no later than Oct. 12.

This annual event brings together the greater global health community, including global health certificate alumni, UW faculty and staff working in global health, visiting scholars, donors, community members—all of our friends who support and inspire students.

The evening is hosted by UW-Madison’s Global Health Institute, a community-builder and catalyst that pulls together colleagues from across campus and communities across the world to find new solutions for equitable and sustainable health. GHI is also a partner in the Global Health Certificate programs that have seen more than 1,500 graduates.

GHI is grateful for the partnerships, collaborations and support that make UW-Madison a global health leader.

Join us to celebrate global health at UW-Madison and look toward new opportunities to ensure health and well-being for all.

Addressing our biggest challenges — and mysteries — at the Wisconsin Science Festival Thu, 04 Oct 2018 14:33:36 +0000 Among the hundreds of events offered around the state during the Wisconsin Science Festival, which runs Oct. 11 – 14, are four in-depth discussions in Madison on some of the most significant challenges science is addressing — and universal questions science is answering.

Climate change and the ‘Anthropocene’

Two series of events will address humanity’s impact on the world, including our role in creating and responding to climate change.

Bassam Shakhashiri, a professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, will lead a discussion on the challenges we face in a warming world. Serving as a facilitator, Shakhashiri will assist conversations on the individual and collective actions that can address both the causes and symptoms of climate change.

Although everyone is welcome, the climate change dialogue will be oriented toward adults, especially those who want to step beyond heated debates and are looking to take meaningful actions to address climate change, Shakhashiri says.

“The biggest goal is to engage in meaningful conversation about an important issue that science and society face,” says Shakhashiri. His science education program Science is Fun will also host events across the four-day festival.

The conversation on global warming will take place at 3:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12 at the Discovery Building, 330 N. Orchard St.

Shakhashiri emphasizes that he will provide background information on the causes of climate change and offer suggested actions, but not prescriptions. He’ll be prepared to discuss the chemistry of greenhouse gases and ocean acidification, among other topics.

Shakhashiri aims to get people engaged in finding solutions, not just for the duration of the festival, but in a sustainable way.

“The most important purpose of having a conversation about climate change is to have another conversation,” Shakhashiri says.

But a warming climate is just one effect humanity is having on the planet we call home. Some 7 billion of us exert powerful influences on the landscape and the environment. What does it mean to be living in the Anthropocene, the era in which humans are the dominant influence on Earth?

That question will be addressed by a panel on Friday, Oct. 12 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Discovery Building. Dennis Dimick, the former environment editor for National Geographic, will open the session. Dimick will be joined by Erle Ellis, a professor of environmental science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Paul Robbins, the director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW–Madison.

They’ll discuss the politics of the time and how to make the Anthropocene’s burdens fairer, now and for future generations. Professor of English Lynn Keller will also join the panel, discussing her concept of the self-conscious Anthropocene, and the cultural implications of this new era. In all, this mini symposium will explore what it means to be living in an age that has set Earth on a new trajectory of climate, landscape, and environmental change.

Toward a more inclusive STEM enterprise

The questions that will be put to an expert panel at the Wisconsin Science Festival are not about whether women and minority groups are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields — there is no doubt that they are — but rather why such underrepresentation and implicit bias persist, what kind of damage they can do and how we might intervene.

The panel, scheduled for 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Discovery Building, will be moderated by Wisconsin Institute for Discovery director Jo Handelsman. Handelsman has devoted a large part of her academic career to understanding how diversity benefits the scientific endeavor. She will lead a panel of experts in and advocates for diversity in the sciences from around the country.

“The evidence is very strong that diversity is better for creative thought, for problem solving and for the bottom line of industries,” Handelsman says, noting that the majority of the American STEM workforce is male and white. “There is no evidence that the talent for STEM is sequestered in that 32 percent of the population.”

Handelsman sees in the panel an opportunity to address STEM’s underrepresentation and implicit bias problems from many sides.

“The best part of the panel is that these people have addressed bias and diversity in very different ways and in different sectors, from a for-profit publisher to a non-profit in education to academia,” she says. “They all work in an evidence-based manner and they all deal with increasing diversity for society’s benefit, but they do it from very different perspectives and with different kinds of interventions.”

Those interventions will be on display in the second part of the mini symposium event. Starting at 3:45 p.m., panel members will lead hands-on workshops focused on preventing bias and increasing the representation of women and people of color across the STEM landscape.

Seeing the unseeable

In an effort to understand the cosmos and our place in it, scientists have diligently worked to create tools for seeing the unseeable in the universe. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, an enormous astronomical observatory located 1.5 miles below the South Pole in the Antarctic icecap, searches for subatomic particles called neutrinos.

Francis Halzen, principal investigator of IceCube, will present the observatory’s goals and discoveries at Ice Fishing for Neutrinos from noon to 1 p.m. at the Discovery Building on Saturday, Oct. 13. Halzen will discuss the IceCube telescope and highlight the recent discovery that some high-energy neutrinos originated from a blazar, a galaxy with an energy-spewing, rotating black hole 4 billion light years from Earth.

These cosmic neutrinos — mysterious, almost massless “ghost particles” that bombard the universe — are astronomical messengers coming from some of the most violent processes in the universe. This includes events associated with starbursts, giant black holes gobbling up stars in the hearts of quasars, and gamma-ray bursts, the biggest explosions since the Big Bang.

This story first appeared at

New funding opportunity supports research into contemporary social problems Thu, 04 Oct 2018 14:28:49 +0000 At least $1 million is available from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduation Education (OVCRGE) to support UW–Madison’s new Contemporary Social Problems Initiative.

The initiative is supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

Next spring, the OVCRGE will award two-year grants for research with implications for tackling contemporary social problems in order to promote economic prosperity, enhance social and psychological well-being and improve health outcomes in the United States. Abstracts are due Nov. 16 with full proposals due Jan. 18, 2019.

The Contemporary Social Problems Initiative is intended to broadly complement the goals of the campuswide Alliance for the American Dream: DreamUp Wisconsin initiative, which is led by the Institute for Research on Poverty, funded by Schmidt Futures. The initiative seeks to improve economic security and expand, strengthen and stabilize the American middle class.

“We were thrilled with the response to the call for proposals for DreamUp,” says Lonnie Berger, director of the Institute for Research on Poverty. “The Contemporary Social Problems Initiative allows UW–Madison to expand beyond the Dane County focus of DreamUp and more fully put the Wisconsin Idea into action.”

UW–Madison researchers are invited to submit proposals addressing a wide range of topics related to economic security and prosperity, enhancing social and psychological well-being and promoting health. Applicants can be single or collaborative investigators.

“The Contemporary Social Problems Initiative is intended to foster new avenues of research that are interdisciplinary, grounded in modern technological tools and data science, and both draw from and benefit a diverse set of people and communities,” says Norman Drinkwater, interim vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “Examples include projects that look at the role of the private sector, including entrepreneurship, in promoting shared economic prosperity. We are interested in policies and programs to promote socially and economically stable families and child well-being.”

Other key research themes that will be considered for the initiative include, but are not limited to, income and wealth distribution, labor market dynamics, determinants and facilitators of economic prosperity and stability, and the causes, characteristics and consequences of income inequality.

Researchers are also invited to submit proposals that explore policies and programs to promote economic prosperity; social and psychological well-being and health through education, training, and human capital development throughout the life course; and innovative use of technology to promote economic security, social and psychological well-being and healthy lifestyles.

For questions regarding submitting an abstract or eligibility, please contact Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Jan Greenberg (

This story first appeared at

By Natasha Kassulke / October 2, 2018

GHI Associate Director Lori DiPrete Brown shares her global experience in new book, a webinar and a seminar Tue, 02 Oct 2018 15:45:40 +0000 Drawing on more than 15 years of experience in global health and a decade of teaching and learning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Lori DiPrete Brown, associate director at the UW-Madison Global Health Institute, is the lead author and editor of the recently published textbook, “Foundations for Global Health Practice.”

The book, published in March, features global health experts from UW-Madison and universities across the country and practitioners from around the world. “It brought people from my global health practice community and my teaching together,” DiPrete Brown says. “One of the authors is a former professor, and several are my former students who are now global health leaders. So it was a labor of love.”

DiPrete Brown discusses the book during a Consortium of Universities for Global Health webinar at 11 a.m., October 12. “Foundations for Global Health Practice: How to Make the Most of your Global Health Course” will be facilitated by Brian Simpson of Global Health NOW. Register now.

DiPrete Brown will also lead a Global Health Tuesday seminar at 5 p.m. October 30 in Room 1345 at the Health Sciences Learning Center. She will discuss “From Inspiration to action: Global Health Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century.” She will draw on her experience as a reviewer for the Global Health Concentration Competencies for the Masters in Public Health degree. Her talk will look at future directions of global health education and ask central questions about the evolution of global health, making the local-to-global connection and UW-Madison’s role in transforming global health education.

“Foundations of Global Health Practice” is an introductory textbook with a comprehensive introduction to global health and a focus on ethical engagement and participation. It develops a “health in all policies” perspective and aims to help students understand essential concepts of global health, engage in discussion about current challenges, learn practical skills and explore their values.

The book covers traditional topics such as the global burden of disease, health care systems and health policy. It also goes further to look at areas including mental health, water and sanitation, agriculture and nutrition, climate change, and gender and health.

Several UW-Madison faculty members, from a variety of schools and colleges, contributed to the book. They include Girma Tefera, professor in the Department of Surgery, writing on global surgery; Jim Conway, associate director of the Global Health Institute, on local-to-global leadership in immunization programs, and Araceli Alonso, UW’s UNESCO Chair on Gender and Well-being, on gender and well-being. Karen Solheim, professor in the School of Nursing; Trisha Seys Ranola, assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy; Nancy Kendall, professor in the School of Education, and Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute, were also among the contributors.

DiPrete Brown also looked to UW alumni now working in global health. Sweta Shrestha, fellowship program manager at the UW-Madison Population Health Institute who led global health field courses to Nepal and Sri Lanka, discusses planning a global health experience. Laura Jacobson, a global health consultant in Oregon, describes the promising field of information technology and health. Eric Hettler, a UW-Madison doctoral candidate, writes about the essentials of water and sanitation, and Luxme Hariharan, a pediatric ophthalmologist, writes about her work related to avoidable childhood blindness. August Ting Mayai, an assistant professor at the University of Juba in South Sudan, discusses building health systems in transitional societies.

The book is designed to support the realities of global health instruction, from covering the breadth of global health in the classroom to advising students about field work, DiPrete Brown says. It includes practical tools and resources to help instructors support and advise students and leaves room to easily incorporate guest lectures into the course.

The book encourages reflection and discernment and encourages students to go beyond simply acquiring information to learning from each other and taking steps to becoming more fully themselves, DiPrete Brown says. All students, who will work in and outside of the U.S., should learn the basics of global health and well-being, she says, “to understand their responsibility as global citizens, to care for each other and the earth, to understand local challenges in a global context and to be aware of and value different perspectives.”

DiPrete Brown also directs the UW-Madison 4W (Women and Well-being in Wisconsin and the World) Initiative. She has collaborated with international agencies, including the U.S. Peace Corps, USAID, the Pan American Health Organization, WHO, Care and Save the Children and has worked to help strengthen health care systems in 15 countries.

DiPrete Brown dedicates the book to the many people around the world who have welcomed her into their lives: “They have shown me how small the world is, reminded me what is just and revealed to me what is possible.”

A flier for DiPrete Brown’s Global Health Tuesday can be found here.

In dangerous fungal family’s befriending of plants, a story of loss Mon, 01 Oct 2018 15:02:10 +0000 If Lewis Carroll had described in detail the mushroom Alice nibbles in Wonderland to shrink and grow to her rightful size, he might have noted a scarlet cap topped with white warts: the fly amanita.

This brilliant, distinctive toadstool is hallucinogenic. Eating it can distort perception and cause objects to appear to expand and contract, making this mushroom at home in Wonderland. Fly amanitas inspired the magic mushrooms in Super Mario Brothers and are littered throughout art and literature. Other members of the Amanita genus, like the death-cap mushroom, are fatal.

Yet these fanciful and sometimes dangerous mushrooms are also friendly — at least to plants. Most Amanitas can only survive by closely partnering with plants, providing their roots with minerals and nutrients in exchange for sugars. This symbiosis evolved more than 50 million years ago and helps forest ecosystems thrive.

Anne Pringle, a professor of botany and bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, researches what genetic changes drove some Amanitas away from their ancestral, decomposing lifestyle toward this intimate relationship with plants. In new work, Pringle and her collaborators show that gene loss — not the evolution of new genes — helped drive this major change in the mushrooms’ lifestyle.

The team also suspects that they’ve identified a species of Amanita that is on its way to evolving a new symbiosis with plants. In all, the results provide further evidence that symbiosis may be a lot easier to develop than scientists once thought.

Or, as Pringle puts it: “Making friends is easy.”

The new study was published Sept. 18 in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Jaqueline Hess of the University of Vienna led the study, with collaborators in Norway, the Netherlands, France and Saudi Arabia.

To get at what separated symbiotic from free-living Amanitas, the researchers sequenced the genomes of three symbiotic Amanita species — including the fly amanita — and three close relatives that aren’t symbiotic. The genomic sequences allowed them to reconstruct the evolutionary paths that led to the fungi’s different adaptations.

“We went into this thinking we’d find commonalities between the three symbiotic Amanitas,” Pringle says.

But despite their similar lifestyles, symbiotic Amanitas looked vastly different from one another on the genomic level. Some symbiotic species had almost double the number of genes as their similarly symbiotic relatives. The symbiotic mushrooms seemed to take different genomic paths after they first diverged, developing unique ways to tailor their partnership with plants.

Earlier research on other families of mushrooms had suggested that one defining characteristic of symbiotic lifestyles was the loss of enzymes capable of degrading the cellulose-laden walls of plant cells. These genes are crucial for decomposers eating through leaf litter. But for fungi that associate with plants and must avoid harming their partners, cellulose-digesting enzymes are only a liability.

So when Pringle, Hess and their team looked at this group of digestive enzymes, they were surprised to find that the free-living species Amanita inopinata was missing these genes. Although symbiotic Amanita mushrooms had indeed lost this suite of digestive enzymes, Amanita inopinata’s lack of them meant the researchers couldn’t link this loss to symbiosis itself.

Pringle says the unexpected absence of cell wall-digesting genes in Amanita inopinata’s genome may actually be a clue pointing to evolution at work. If symbiosis only develops once fungi let go of these digestive enzymes, the researchers reason, then Amanita inopinata may be primed to evolve a closer partnership with plants.

Not quite symbiotic, perhaps not fully independent, Amanita inopinata seems to be “stuck between two worlds,” says Hess, who began the work while a postdoctoral researcher in the Pringle lab and is now a senior scientist at the University of Vienna.

The evolution of Amanita inopinata — “the unexpected one,” in Latin — and the other Amanitas also seem to support a developing consensus that symbiosis, once thought to be exceptional, may actually be easy to evolve. The researchers didn’t find that Amanita needed to develop a new, complex suite of genes in order to start partnering with plants. Instead, just letting go of a few once-vital genes may be sufficient to forge new relationships in nature.

“The story of making friends is one of loss,” says Pringle.

This story first appeared at

By Eric Hamilton / September 28, 2018

How bad will the flu be this season? Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:58:48 +0000 Strength in Community: GHI issues its 2017-2018 annual report Wed, 26 Sep 2018 18:57:56 +0000 The Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison celebrates “Strength in Community” with its 2017-2018 annual report.

“Across campus and the planet, we work together to tackle health challenges,” GHI Director Jonathan Patz writes in the report’s introduction. “Together, we are working toward a more just, sustainable, and healthy world.”

The report provides a snapshot of activities in the GHI community:

  • Inspiring students
  • Supporting education, research and outreach
  • Discovering new solutions for health through One Health
  • Championing health care for all
  • Showing we can protect the planet and our health
  • Making the world better for women and children
  • Seeing new opportunities in Wisconsin’s cows
  • Sharing a passion for global health

Filled with stories of people and projects, “Strength in Community” showcases the work of the UW-Madison global health community and collaborators in Wisconsin and across the world.


UW’s health science community hosting series of talks dedicated to improving conversation around equity, diversity Mon, 24 Sep 2018 16:30:17 +0000 University of Wisconsin-Madison’s health science community is dedicated to improving the conservation around equity, diversity and inclusion through a series of workshops during the fall semester.

Co-sponsored by the School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy, School of Medicine and Public Health, and School of Veterinary Medicine, the Lunch and Learn Series is free and open to all health science faculty, staff and students.

Earlier this month, the series kicked off with a discussion about gun violence as a public health issue with Stephen Hargarten, an associate dean, director and professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. A video of the talk can be found here. Hargarten was also one of the lead authors on an article titled “Gun Violence: A Biopsychosocial Disease” that called for the medical community to be more engaged in addressing gun violence in the U.S.

“By framing gun violence as a biopsychosocial disease we can move beyond acrimony and fear, use the tools that have been honed over centuries to advance science, and prevent and control this disease burden that adversely impact our patients, families, and communities across the U.S. and the world,” according to the article.

There are three upcoming Lunch and Learn talks:

  • Black Men’s and Women’s Wellness, Oct. 23, 12:00 p.m., Room 2002, Rennebohm Hall
  • Providing Culturally Sensitive Care to Latinx, Nov. 5, 12:00 p.m., Room 1325, Health Sciences Learning Center
  • Intersections of Education and Health in Dane County, Nov. 30, 12:00 p.m., Signe Skott Coooper Hall Auditorium

Though these talks are free, registration for each session is requested. Lunch will be provided. A flier with the registration links for the upcoming talks can be found here.

Vaccine opt-outs dropped — barely — when California added more hurdles Tue, 18 Sep 2018 14:36:14 +0000 In response to spiking rates of parents opting their children out of vaccinations that are required to enroll in school — and just before a huge outbreak of measles at Disneyland in 2014 — California passed AB-2109. The law required that parents who wanted to exempt their children from vaccines get the signature of a healthcare provider who shared the risks of not being vaccinated, adding additional steps to opting out.

New research out of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Applied Population Laboratory reveals that the law reduced the proportion of unvaccinated children entering kindergarten in California. But that reduction was modest, and, perhaps more significantly, the clustering of large numbers of under-vaccinated children in particular schools — the scenario most likely to spark outbreaks — barely budged.

Following the passage of AB-2109, the exemption rate dropped from its peak of 3.3 percent of kindergarteners to 2.7 percent in each of the following two years.

“That statewide rate is misleading, because it’s actually much worse than that,” says Malia Jones, the lead author of the new study and an assistant scientist in the Applied Population Laboratory, which is within the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology.

Jones explains that the isolation index, the probability that an exempted student will encounter another exempted student in her school, dropped only slightly from 16 percent to 15 percent. The isolation index was 10 percent at the beginning of the study period, which goes back to the 2001-2002 school year.

“So we saw a dent in exemptions, but not really in clustering,” Jones says. The clustering of unvaccinated students together can more readily lead to outbreaks of preventable diseases.

The new study was published in the journal Health Affairs on Sept. 4, and Jones is presenting the results today, Sept. 17, at a briefing in Santa Monica. Jones collaborated with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University and Emory University to perform the analysis.

With years of public records on the vaccination status of incoming kindergarteners, California was a perfect location to study the effect of changing laws on vaccination rates. Researchers had access to data for the entire population, including information on both public and private schools, only excluding those kindergarten classes with fewer than 10 students enrolled.

And California has, like several other states, seen a precipitous rise in parents opting their children out of vaccines normally required to enroll in school, like those against measles and polio. That exemption used to require only the signature of a parent. But AB-2109 required that parents seeking an exemption for reasons other than religious belief meet with a physician, who counseled them on the benefits and risks of vaccination before signing a waiver.

“We wanted to know if that law worked,” says Jones.

And it did. The year after the law passed, the exemption rate dropped six-tenths of a percentage point, and held steady the next year. But that drop wasn’t the whole story. In addition to only minor changes to the clustering together of under-vaccinated children as revealed by the isolation index, Jones and her colleagues saw uneven changes in another category: conditional admissions.

Many students are enrolled conditionally when they meet some, but not all, of the vaccine requirements and are not claiming an exemption. Most likely, these children are simply behind on required vaccines and waiting until the appropriate time to get a booster shot. But there is little information about whether and how these children eventually meet all of the vaccination requirements.

Conditional admissions rose slightly the year following passage of AB-2109 before dropping 2 percentage points to 4.4 percent in the 2015-2016 school year, the study found. The vacillating numbers were hard to interpret, Jones says.

“We’re not sure those kids are really unvaccinated,” says Jones, who explains that few studies include this group of children, despite them being a large cohort. “But we think they’re less likely to be vaccinated.”

California wasn’t satisfied with AB-2109. In 2015, following the Disneyland measles outbreak, the state passed SB-277, which did away with all non-medical exemptions. Exemption rates have since gone down substantially. But Jones says the lessons of AB-2109 may be instructive for other states considering adding obstacles to receiving exemptions from mandatory vaccines — but not banning exemptions entirely.

“Making it a little bit harder to get an exemption is a much more feasible strategy for most states,” says Jones.

This story first appeared at

By Eric Hamilton / September 17, 2018

Pediatrics Grand Rounds looks at Thriving Children in the Era of the Sustainable Development Goals Thu, 13 Sep 2018 20:25:09 +0000 University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna Janna Patterson, M.D., MPH, FAAP, brings a wealth of global health experience to her talk on how Sustainable Development Goals will affect children’s health.

Patterson, senior vice president of Global Health and Life Support at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), visits UW-Madison Thursday, September 20, to discuss how children can thrive in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Patterson is delivering a Grand Rounds in Pediatrics lecture at 7:30 a.m. in Room 1345 of the Health Sciences Learning Center. The lecture is free and open to the public and will also be live-streamed. Refreshments will be served.

“I am excited to have Dr. Patterson coming to campus and to hear her thoughts on improving the health of children across the globe,” says pediatrician Jim Conway, associate director for health sciences at the Global Health Institute. “Given her extensive international experience, she is part of the next generation of leaders who will help guide collaborative programs to improve children’s health.”Head shot of Dr. Janna Patterson with long curly hair, a black suit jacket and purple blouse.

Patterson earned her bachelor’s degree in African Development from UW-Madison and her M.D. and MPH from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. She completed graduate medical studies at the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Hospital, was a neonatologist and researcher at the University of Washington and spent several years living and working in Tanzania.

At AAP, Patterson will advance the organization’s efforts to improve global pediatric care, education and programs. Prior to joining the academy, she served as a senior program officer with the Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she managed a portfolio of grants on maternal and newborn health. Her work ranged from the prevention and treatment of sepsis to care of preterm infants, including kangaroo mother care.

“Our days as an insulated citizen of one country are past,” Patterson said in an interview with AAP News. “We are all global citizens now. What’s happening in another country can affect us here and now. When children in other parts of the world lack access to adequate health care, we are all at risk. More importantly, I believe it is our moral obligation to work toward a world where our birthplace does not determine whether we live or die.”

Conway says he is also pleased to be able to share UW-Madison and the Global Health Institute’s vision and contributions to global health with Patterson. “And we are always so proud to have UW-Madison graduates return,” he says.

By Ann Grauvogl/ September 13, 2018

Explore nearly 200 events statewide at the Wisconsin Science Festival Thu, 13 Sep 2018 14:56:51 +0000 From food science and viruses to data visualization and climate change, there’s something for everyone at the 2018 Wisconsin Science Festival (WSF), held this year from Oct. 11-14.

Now in its eighth year, the science festival continues to grow. Nearly 100 unique venues are hosting activities statewide, with half the counties in Wisconsin represented.

In Madison, the signature events kick off Thursday, Oct. 11, with “Big Ideas for Busy People: Contagion!” edition at the Discovery Building, 330 N. Orchard St. The Big Ideas event involves high-energy, 5-minute flash talks, and a ringing gong that calls out anyone who goes over the allotted time. This year, infectious disease experts, including GHI Associate Director Jim Conway, set the stage for an interactive exploration of the future of viruses, bacteria, antibiotics and vaccines.

Laura Heisler, director of the festival and programming for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Morgridge Institute for Research, says the festival is the perfect venue to tackle the big issues of our day, especially the controversial ones – like vaccines and antibiotic resistance – that affect us all.

“In our fast-paced format we’re covering everything from trends in vaccination to looking at a disease from the perspective of the offending bacteria,” says Heisler. “There will be group engagement in addition to the talks, introducing a bit of whimsy into a challenging conversation to get everyone involved.”

Madison’s Friday-night hallmark event is taking science into the community with “Science on the Square” Oct. 12. Dozens of venues on the Capitol Square in downtown Madison – including museums, pubs, stores and restaurants – will host informal science talks, demonstrations or hands-on activities from 6 – 9 p.m.

“The Capitol Square is really vibrant, and we want to take science to where the people are,” Heisler says. “The festival isn’t just activities in a science center, it’s out and about in the community. We’re adding a little science to places people are already visiting for fun and engagement, hoping to spark curiosity.”

For example, Parthenon Gyros, 316 State St., will explore astronomy and offer rooftop star gazing while Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., delves into the science of cheesemaking. The Madison Children’s Museum, 100 N. Hamilton St., the event headquarters that will host a variety of hands-on activities, will kick off the night with a juggling demonstration that examines the human movement and physics the activity requires.

Whether or not you make it to an official science festival event, people of all ages can contribute to a project on data visualization, “What Color Is: Data stored in stacks of color,” from anywhere in the state. Participants answer questions about how they think about colors to build their personal color block stack. Some questions are concrete, like “what color are your eyes?” while others are more abstract, for example, which color represents friendship, hope or justice? Everyone will answer the same questions in the same order, so it will be possible to identify trends or commonalities across groups.

Karen Schloss, a UW-Madison faculty member and one of the researchers working on the project, says the activity is an opportunity to learn about concepts like data visualization in an accessible way.

“I love how the Wisconsin Science Festival gets people so engaged in science by learning and by exploring and discovering,” Schloss says. “I think (this project) is a great example of that, where you take something that kids do at home-they build with bricks and Legos – and then imbue it with science. Now these little bricks become meaningful in a really rich way they probably weren’t before.”

The color block stacks art and data display will be in the Discovery Building during the festival. Those elsewhere in the state can participate by answering the same questions and building their own stacks of color.

Many activities will be held in the Discovery Building and across the UW-Madison campus, with other events taking place elsewhere in Madison and in communities statewide.

Check the Wisconsin Science Festival website for more detailed information about the full festival schedule for Madison and statewide events.

This story first appeared on the Morgridge Institute for Research website.

By Courtni Kopietz / September 6, 2018

Highlighted events include:

GHI Associate Director Jim Conway answers the most asked flu questions Thu, 13 Sep 2018 14:27:09 +0000 Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab has new director, new direction Wed, 12 Sep 2018 15:00:28 +0000 The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (WVDL) has a new director. As of Sept. 1,  University of Wisconsin–Madison veterinarian and GHI Advisory Committee member Keith Poulsen assumed official leadership of the agency, which plays a critical role in preserving animal health and the integrity of the state’s animal production industry.

“I think we have a very important mission for the state and for the university,” says Poulsen, who had served as interim director of WVDL since March 2018. He first arrived at the agency in 2014 as a clinical professor at the UW–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM), practicing large animal internal medicine.

The WVDL was first established in the early 1930s with the goal of providing animal disease diagnostic services to the state’s veterinarians and animal producers. It is located and administered by the UW–Madison campus as part of the University of Wisconsin System and is specifically funded as a line item in the state budget.

Poulsen describes WVDL as “a hybrid of a state agency and a business.” With between 120 and 130 employees, the lab runs roughly 600,000 diagnostic tests each year, handling upwards of 38,000 cases. Nine out of 10 of these cases serve the state’s $250 million-a-year bovine (cow) genetics industry and its $43.4 billion dairy industry. The WVDL tests bull semen for export around the world to serve meat and dairy producers.

Beyond bovines, WVDL also supports the state’s poultry industry by helping respond to outbreaks of avian influenza, participating in the federal Salmonella Action Plan and the National Poultry Improvement Plan, and playing a role in maintaining flock health. It promotes health among all other animal species as well.

Though Poulsen has a passion for animals, he says it is the people at WVDL who have helped make his new role rewarding. “We have a great team of people and we are very focused on the working culture of our organization,” he says.

Among his first priorities is investing in these people, shifting to a team-based approach and ensuring his employees know they are valued.

“We are investing in our staff because they are the scientific minds and the people who get the testing in and done, and the customer service done,” Poulsen says.

He is also focused on engagement, inclusion and diversity. Mark Markel, the dean of SVM, says Poulsen helps reinforce a welcoming environment and has created a climate where people want to show up for work every day, in part because he promotes good work-life balance.

“For a director to do that is important and really critical to the success of an organization,” Markel explains.

Poulsen feels fortunate that WVDL is on the UW–Madison campus, where continued growth and improvement are part of the mindset, and resources are readily available to employees, such as classes and access to expertise, from infectious disease to animal health.

This is a two-way street, says Markel: “I think it’s best for SVM as well as for WVDL to have a really strong partnership, not only in how we interact with each other, but also in how we serve the citizens of Wisconsin.”

Poulsen actually holds several degrees from UW–Madison, including the SVM. He grew up in Waunakee, and today, his parents live within sight of ABS Global, a leading bovine genetics company, located in DeForest. He first attended UW–Madison as an undergraduate, majoring in biochemistry.

“I came to the university because I wanted to be in the marching band and when I got here I said I wanted to be biochemistry major,” Poulsen explains. “But my advisor said I couldn’t do both, so either pick a different major or don’t play in the band. I went with the major.”

He went on to earn his veterinary medical degree from the SVM in 2004 and after graduation, interned at North Carolina State University. He returned to UW–Madison for his residency and earned a Ph.D. in comparative biomedical sciences in 2012. Poulsen then took a faculty job in large animal medicine at Oregon State University before joining WVDL, where he has also served as the organization’s diagnostic case and outreach coordinator.

“What’s really impressed me and the (WVDL) board was seeing him grow in that position over the last the years or so and mature in how he led the service, especially one targeted on interfacing with customers around the state with bull studs, and with other players, including DATCP (the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection),” says Markel.

As WVDL’s director, Poulsen will continue to provide appropriate support to the animal production industry in Wisconsin; will continually work on process development, investment in research and staying “on top of the curve;” and work to broaden outreach to state industry leaders and elected officials in Wisconsin and nationally.

“We want to continue growing our relationship with the state legislature and the agricultural industry to make sure they know us as a resource,” Poulsen says. “That means meeting with the (Wisconsin) Farm Bureau and elected officials on agricultural committees to explain what WVDL is and let them know that if there are problems like highly pathogenic avian influenza, or foot and mouth disease, or canine influenza, they know that we are a resource on campus and they can come get us, or we can come to their offices.”

Poulsen says he didn’t necessarily seek out leadership, but working with the teams at WVDL lit the spark.

“I learned it’s not all intuitive but it’s a learned-trait, like surgery,” he says. “That led me to the director’s role.”

This story first appeared at

By Kelly April Tyrrell / September 7, 2018
Global Health in Obstetrics and Gynecology: Engagement, Outreach and Opportunities Tue, 11 Sep 2018 15:55:04 +0000 In this installment of Global Hot Spots, GHI Advisory Committee member Cynthia Wautlet will focus on a collaboration between the UW School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Hawassa University in Ethiopia, which aims to improve women’s health and medical education in southern Ethiopia.

Wautlet will discuss the current state of women’s reproductive health in the region, the work of the academic collaboration, and the opportunities for engagement in ob-gyn global health outreach efforts.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Work with GHI: Apply now for a research intern position Tue, 11 Sep 2018 15:23:25 +0000 The Initiative for Health-Oriented Transportation (HOT) is recruiting an individual to assist HOT in its role as a partner in a global research program funded by the Wellcome Trust which is focused on improving human health and the environment through smart and sustainable urban development.

Within the consortium of organizations supporting the Complex Urban Systems for Sustainability and Health (CUSSH) program, HOT is responsible for modeling the impact on human health of physically active forms of transportation such as walking and cycling. These data can help inform policies and investments in urban infrastructure that facilitate such health-oriented transportation.

Job duties include writing scripted and reproducible analyses of transportation and health data and contributing to the development of statistical software packages in the programming languages R and python. The successful candidate will have excellent analytical and statistical skills and be able to communicate effectively both in writing and orally. Experience with project management is preferred.

To apply for this position, please submit a cover letter describing your relevant experience and professional interests, along with a CV, to Samuel Younkin. at

Apply by Oct. 1.