SOM To Hold Inaugural Global Health Summit

September 22, 2016    |  

The Institute for Global Health (IGH) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (SOM) will hold its first Global Health Summit on Sept. 26.

The event, which will take place from noon to 6 p.m. in the SMC Campus Center at 621 W. Lombard St., will seek to foster collaboration among scientists and promote new and innovative global health research at SOM, as well as at other schools at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). Faculty and staff from SOM as well as other schools are welcome at the event.

In Malawi, IGH researchers Lauren Cohee, MD, right, and Miriam Laufer, MD, second from right, meet with school leaders and research staff to plan a study to treat children for malaria in schools.

In Malawi, IGH researchers Lauren Cohee, MD, right, and Miriam Laufer, MD, second from right, meet with school leaders and research staff to plan a study to treat children for malaria in schools.

Among those who will speak at the event are IGH Founding Director Christopher Plowe, MD, MPH, FASTMH, the Frank M. Calia, MD Professor of Medicine, SOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, and Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, FIDSA, who is director of the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) at IGH, as well as deputy director of IGH.

The event will include a range of presentations from departments at SOM. Participants also will have an opportunity to take part in small group discussions about strategies to promote global health research on campus. The topics will include promoting collaboration, expanding research to non-communicable diseases, and creating opportunities for knowledge transfer.

“We’re doing fantastic research already,” said Plowe. “But we want to spread the word among our entire UMSOM faculty, and UMB as well, that we’re eager to work together across disciplines. Global health encompasses so many areas that we can do much, much more. So we need partners.”

In addition to Plowe, who will talk about IGH, and Neuzil, who will speak about the CVD, the following faculty members will talk about the potential for global health research in their subject areas:

  • Miriam Laufer, MD, MPH, associate director for global health at IGH and director of IGH-Malawi;
  • Robert Redfield Jr., MD, director of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) Division of Clinical Care and Research;
  • Clement Adebamowo, BM, ChB, ScD of IHV’s Division of Epidemiology and Prevention;
  • Brian Browne, MD, and Terrence Mulligan, DO, MPH, both of the Department of Emergency Medicine;
  • Melissa McDiarmid, MD, MPH, director of the Department of Medicine’s Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine;
  • Gerard Slobogean, MD, MPH, from the Department of Orthopaedics and the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center;
  • Maureen Black, PhD, director of the Department of Pediatrics Division of Growth and Nutrition;
  • Doee Kitessa, MD, from the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences;
  • Samer El-Kamary, MB, ChB, MS, MPH, of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.

IGH was established in 2015, bringing together an impressive team of researchers with decades of experience in a variety of areas, including vaccines, malaria, and emerging diseases. The institute focuses on vaccine development and malaria research, and consists of the CVD and the Division of Malaria Research (DMR).

For more than 40 years, the CVD has conducted research on vaccines for a variety of diseases, including cholera, typhoid fever, malaria, Ebola, Zika and other infectious illnesses. The center focuses on maternal and child mortality, especially on preventing diarrhea and pneumonia, which are leading causes of death in children under 5 around the world. Earlier this year a single-dose cholera vaccine developed by CVD scientists became the only cholera vaccine licensed for use in the United States.

With the ultimate aim of global malaria eradication, DMR focuses on the prevention and treatment of malaria, which infects 200 million people a year. It develops and deploys innovative tools for malaria treatment, prevention, and surveillance. Working in its Baltimore laboratories and at field sites in Mali, Burkina Faso, Malawi, and Myanmar, it designs and leads clinical trials of drugs and vaccines, and applies molecular and genomics approaches to track drug resistance and malaria transmission.

Plowe, who has been studying malaria for more than 30 years, joined the CVD faculty in 1995, building a multidisciplinary malaria research group that works around the world. Neuzil, an expert in the study of vaccines, was previously a professor at the University of Washington, and directed vaccine access and delivery at PATH, an international nonprofit global health organization based in Seattle.

IGH already has had several successes. Last year, Plowe and his colleague and wife, Myaing Myaing Nyunt, MD, MPH, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and director of IGH’s efforts in Myanmar, helped engineer an unprecedented meeting to battle malaria in Myanmar. A diverse array of groups in the country, many with long histories as adversaries, met in Washington, D.C., to discuss strategies to eradicate malaria in Myanmar. The groups agreed to cooperate on a long-term plan to eliminate malaria, which is a major problem in many parts of the country.

IGH also focuses on developing the skills and expertise of those abroad who are on the front lines in the war against infectious and other global diseases. This spread of technical and scientific knowledge will allow less developed countries to create sustainable improvements in public health that last beyond the end of studies by researchers at Western institutions.