EPIIC Launches Global Health Year

IGL News | Posted Oct 1, 2012

EPIIC launched its Global Health and Security year on September 4, with more than 100 students attending the orientation session.  Ultimately, the class enrolled 53 students, from freshman to seniors, with majors ranging from International Relations and Community Health to Computer Science and Biochemistry.

This colloquium will be an intensive multifaceted, multidisciplinary probe into historical, scientific, socio-economic, political, philosophical and ethical dimensions of the essential challenges and dilemmas of global health. In exploring the perplexing and critical questions that shape the future of the world, societies, and the human species, EPIIC will examine the intersections of health, security and human rights in the broadest sense.

Global health governance is one of the oldest forms of multilateral organization. It has been a unique arena of governance that integrates scientists, medical practitioners, philanthropists, governments, and international institutions with local communities. What has changed in recent decades is the accelerated impact of trade, climate change, international finance, and security concerns. New actors include finance ministries, international financial institutions, regional organizations, militaries, public-private partnerships, celebrity endorsement, and business coalitions.

EPIIC’s heuristic approach will probe the One Health concept. According to the One Health Initiative, the concept is “a world-wide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment.” Its proponents hope “that the synergism achieved will advance health care for the 21st century and beyond by accelerating biomedical research discoveries, enhancing public health efficacy, expeditiously expanding the scientific knowledge base, and improving medical education and clinical care.”

One framework the class will investigate comes from Professor Andrew Lakoff’s thinking: the concept of “global health security” in comparison to the concept of “humanitarian bio medicine.” These two regimes have a contrasting understanding of whose health should be protected and of what are the most salient threats facing global populations. How is the world conceptually and practically organized around preparedness for potential catastrophic pandemics vs. the treatment of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases?

Some of the questions the class will engage are:

• Is health a human right?

• What are the dynamics and politics of health disparities, including issues around poverty, gender, and race?

• How can global decision-making be balanced with decentralized implementation?

• What are the intersecting points for global health and national security?

• What is the effectiveness of the monitoring of disease and risk through surveillance systems?

• How realistic is the threat of bio terrorism? What is the impact of food insecurity on the health of nations?

• What is the complex relationship between water and diseases?

• What are the horizontal and vertical methods of global public health intervention? How are mental health disorders viewed, and treated, globally?

• What are the lasting health impacts of violence, including war, on individuals and society? Why are some societies resilient?

• What are the challenges of complex humanitarian interventions for medical professionals and humanitarian workers?

• What is the role of pharmaceutical companies in global health, access to medicines, and research and development?

• What are the ethical dilemmas posed by clinical research, particularly on vulnerable populations?

• What is the relationship between economics and medicine, from impacts on work productivity to what diseases to treat?

• What encompasses zoonosis and the intersection of veterinary and human medicine?

• What is the future of medical technology, from the Human Genome Project to nanotechnology, and its potential impact on evolution?

To date, the class lecturers have included:

Ezra Barzilay (Outward Bound Guest Lecturer), Lead Epidemiologist in the Health Systems Reconstruction Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.  Previously, he was the Team Lead of the National Surveillance Team and the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) in the Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He also served as the Deputy Incident Manager for Haiti Cholera Response for the CDC.  Dr Barzilay received his Bachelor’s and Medical degrees from Tufts University, in Boston, MA. He completed a residency in pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and then joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service corps at CDC to train in infectious disease epidemiology.  He is board-certified in pediatrics and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine.  Fluent in seven languages, Dr Barzilay’s field experience includes international public health interventions, foodborne outbreak investigations, and serving as a trainer and expert consultant for the World Health Organization

Alex de Waal, Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a research professor at Tufts University. From 2009 to 2011 he served as senior advisor to the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan. He was also program director at the Social Science Research Council, with responsibilities for research programs on humanitarian issues and HIV/AIDS and social transformation. His academic research has focused on issues of famine, conflict and human rights in Africa. He was awarded an OBE in the UK New Year’s Honors List of 2009, was on the Prospect/Foreign Policy list of 100 public intellectuals in 2008 and the Atlantic Monthly list of 27 ‘brave thinkers’ in 2009.

Juan Enriquez, Managing Director of Excel Venture Management and a leading authority on the economic impact of life sciences on business and society and a respected business leader and entrepreneur. Prior to Excel, he was the founding Director of the Harvard Business School's Life Sciences Project, with many of his innovative thoughts captured in his bestselling book, As The Future Catches You, which provided an accurate blueprint of how a bio-based economy changes industries and corporations. His most recent publication is an eBook, Homo Evolutis: A Short Tour of our New Species, which describes a world where humans increasingly shape their environment, themselves, and other species. Following HBS, Juan became an active angel investor and founder of Biotechonomy Ventures which invested in BioTrove, Xcellerex, and Synthetic Genomics, a company he co founded with Drs. J. Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith to apply life sciences to energy markets.

Anne Goldfeld, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a Senior Investigator at the Immune Disease Institute, Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a member of the Infectious Disease Division at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston. Work in her laboratory at the Immune Disease Institute focuses on basic gene regulation and on new understanding of how the immune system responds to tuberculosis and AIDS. Her lab has discovered basic mechanisms of cell type- and inducer-specific gene regulation using the TNF gene and HIV as model systems and genes and described new T cell responses associated with TB susceptibility and latency. As the co-founder of the Cambodian Health Committee and the Global Health Committee, she has helped pioneer new models of TB and AIDS care and access to treatment while integrating basic research approaches to improve care and to discover new approaches and therapies.

Jeffrey Griffiths, Associate Professor of Public Health and Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine and Department of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine.  He is the Director of the Global Nutrition Collaborative Research Support Program—Africa at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts and the Director of the Global Health, Public Health and Professional Degree Programs at the Tufts School of Medicine.  He is an Adjunct Professor at the Friedman School and at the Tufts School of Engineering and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.  He also is the Chair of the Drinking Water Panel for the US Environmental Protections Agency’s Science Advisory Board.