Global Health Tuesdays look at many determinants of health

The Spring 2022 Global Health Tuesday webinars at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will delve into the global fight to cure childhood cancer and the story of Firestone Tire’s exploitation of the rubber industry in Liberia. The spring webinars will also host the Planetary Health Graduate Scholars and look at what steps we can take to reduce opportunity for the next virus to spread and what we can do to prepare for another pandemic.

The first webinar, from 5:00 to 6:15 p.m. (CST) on January 25, follows the complex and compelling journeys of four children with cancer and their health care teams in Guatemala, El Salvador, Myanmar and Egypt. Participants are asked to watch the film, “How I Live,” prior to the webinar. On January 25, filmmakers will discuss global health disparities and health care delivery challenges in resource-limited settings.

On February 22, UW-Madison professor Gregg Mitman, an award-winning author and filmmaker, will discuss his new book, “Empire of Rubber.” In it, he traces how the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, through capitalism, racial exploitation and environmental devastation, transformed the land and the nation of Liberia.

Hosted by the UW-Madison Global Health Institute, the Global Health Tuesday seminar series showcases the complex challenges of global health and those working to address them. Educators, researchers and practitioners from campus and across the world share their experiences, providing insights, encouraging conversation and helping connect colleagues locally and globally.

Watch the spring videos


January 25: “How I Live” film discussion

5:00-6:15 p.m. (CST)
Watch the video.

Each year, 300,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer, and 80 percent of them live in low-income countries. The survival rate for children in high-income countries is 80 percent; in low-income countries, it is 20 percent. “How I Live: 4 Families. 5 Countries. And the global fight to end childhood cancer.” follows four children for four years. From diagnosis through treatment, the film explores the challenges children, families and caregivers face in resource-limited settings as well as the power of love, courage and tenacity.

The panelists for the January 25 webinar include:

  • Meghan Shea, MFA, director/producer, is a director and producer of documentary films who focuses on the work of individuals and organizations that are creating positive social impact in the world. Her films look at both national and international social issues, and she produces content for broadcast, streaming and educational distribution.
  •  Irini Albanti, MA, MPH, Dr.PH, consulting producer, is the executive director at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative where she leads the strategic and core functions and oversees all programs. She also was the inaugural director of the Global Health Initiative at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
  • Soad Linneth Fuentes-Alabi, MD, MPH, featured physician, is the scientific director of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Day Clinic, Fundacion Ayudame a Vivir/Hospital Nacional de Niños Benjamin Bloom in El Salvador. In 2017, she joined The Lancet Oncology Commission on Childhood Cancer in Low and Middle-Income Countries with the goal to identify a core set of interventions and diagnostic, treatment and care services to address childhood cancers.
  • Kendall Carpenter, MPH, educational coordinator, workshop designer, is a fourth year medical student at Harvard Medical School with the goal of pursuing global pediatric oncology. Her interests lie at the intersection of education and medicine, and she developed an educational curriculum to enhance the impact of the “How I Live” film as part of her practicum project for her master of public health degree.

This webinar is co-hosted by the Global Health Institute, the School of Medicine and Public Health Office of Global Health, and the Division of Global Pediatrics and Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program in the Department of Pediatrics.

February 22: Empire of Rubber

4:30-5:30 p.m. (CST)
Watch the video.

In the early 1920s, Americans owned 80 percent of the world’s automobiles and consumed 75 percent of the world’s rubber. But only one percent of the world’s rubber grew under the U.S. flag, creating a bottleneck that hampered the nation’s explosive economic expansion. To solve its conundrum, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company turned to a tiny West African nation, Liberia, founded in 1847 as a free Black republic.

A head shot of the author
Gregg Mitman

UW Professor Gregg Mitman’s new book, “Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia,” tells a story of ecology and disease, of commerce and science, and of racial politics and political maneuvering, as Firestone sought to transform Liberia into America’s rubber empire. Drawing upon excerpts from his newly published book, Mitman will discuss how medical humanitarianism aided Firestone in its attempts to solidify control of land and labor in Liberia. The plantations, in turn, became an experimental laboratory for American biomedical research and reveal the medical racism and Jim Crow attitudes of Firestone’s corporate culture in building a plantation world.

Mitman, Ph.D., is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History, Medical History and Environmental Studies in the School of Medicine and Public Health. He works at the intersections of the history of science, medicine and the environment in the United States and the world. “Empire of Rubber,” published by The New Press in November 2021, earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly that called it “a harrowing and richly detailed account of U.S. tire manufacturer Firestone’s exploitation of Liberian workers in the 20th century.”

March 29: What We Need to Know Before the Next Pandemic

12:00-1:00 p.m. (CDT)
Watch the video.

Experts in Wisconsin and across the world explore what steps we can take to reduce opportunity for the next virus to spread and what we can do to prepare for another pandemic. GHI Associate Director James Conway moderates the discussion. The panelists are:

  • Christian Happi, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Biological Faculty at Redeemers University, Nigeria. He is a Center Leader for the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) and is leading the efforts in West Africa with genomic sequencing/pandemic preparedness. His teams have used genomic sequencing to determine the animal reservoirs for outbreaks of disease in Africa, including Lassa fever and Ebola virus.
  • Amandine Gamble, DVM, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher, UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Gamble is interested in the processes underlying the circulation of infectious agents among hosts. Her current research aims at designing quantitative methods to use epidemiological data to develop biological insight and practical predictors of epidemiological dynamics of pathogenic infectious agents in multi-host systems. She will look in particular at the role of zoonosis and spillover in pandemics.
  • J. Stephen Morrison, Ph.D., is senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and director of its Global Health Policy Center. Morrison writes widely, has directed several high-level commissions, and is a frequent commentator on U.S. foreign policy, global health, Africa, and foreign assistance. He served in the Clinton administration, as committee staff in the House of Representatives and taught for 12 years at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin.
  • Nasia Safdar, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and an infectious disease specialist, is the inaugural associate dean for clinical trials in the School of Medicine and Public Health and research director of the New Wisconsin Medicine Institute for Clinical Trials. Safdar has been a leading voice for community and patient safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her research focuses on finding novel interventions to reduce health care-associated infections and combat the rise of multi-drug resistant organisms. She received a GHI Seed Grant for “Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance Through a Global Perspective.” Safdar earned a President’s Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award,

April 26: Planetary Health Graduate Scholars Flash Talks

5:00-6:00 p.m. (CDT)
Watch the video.

From the collective behavior of bumblebees to the intersection of climate change, air quality, public health and environmental justice, this year’s cohort of Planetary Health Graduate Scholars are exploring relationships between the health of humans, animals and the planet. Their flash talks will also cover the ecological impacts of land-use changes and hunting, the connections between zoonoses, biosecurity and sustainable agriculture, and climate, energy policy and public health.

The scholars are:

  • August Easton-Calabria, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • H S Sathya Chandra Sagar, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Ciaran Gallagher, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
  • Kate Tredinnick, School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Nick Mailloux, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies