Prominent University of California scientists formally presented plans for a School of Global Health to the regents last month.
The proposed school would be the first of its kind, spanning all 10 UC campuses in a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort to solve issues that threaten the health and vitality of society.
According to planning documents, the school would address the most pressing global health issues in its first decade, which include poverty, pandemics, neglected diseases, chronic diseases, climate change and environmental degradation, food and water security and health, migration, peace, security and disaster response.
UC Davis Vice Dean of medical education Michael Wilkes said the school would be “the most powerful health science training program in the world.”
“If we work separately, we miss the bigger picture,” he said. “It’s about putting all the different specialties together.”
There is a need for a separate school, as opposed to just integrating the program into the medical schools, said Kristen Bole, a spokesperson for UC San Francisco.
“Because global health spans so many different fields – from medicine and drug research/development to clean water supplies and environmental sciences – it would greatly benefit from the coordination that would come with a School of Global Health,” Bole said in an e-mail interview.
All 10 UC campuses – including the ones without medical schools – are “involved in so many aspects that it makes sense to create such a school in the UC system,” she said.
The school would start out as a graduate program, offering one- and two-year masters’ and doctorate degrees, though it may incorporate an undergraduate track in the future, Wilkes said.
UC Davis’ Global Health Center would likely be built on the campus, not the Medical Center, Wilkes said.
According to UC’s project timeline, the Academic Senate will review the latest draft proposal this fall and the regents will review the final proposal in April.
Financing for the project has not yet been secured, though UC expects a planning grant from a major foundation, according to a document written by the UC Office of the President and presented to the regents at the Sept. 17 meeting. UC officials hope to fund the project via public and private investment and are in the process of developing a fundraising plan.
The school will have new buildings and feature a sophisticated electronic delivery system to share education and research. Wilkes said the system will enhance research and concentrate expertise, which isn’t the case right now, he said.
“There’s no collaboration; everybody’s working in their own tent,” he said. “The idea with the School of Global Health … is about problems. Each department within the School of Global Health will have a problem to tackle and be able to network with schools around the world.”
PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.