The Gillings School – respected internationally and sought out as an international public health partner – is committed to having impact around the globe. Many international partnerships, such as our HIV/AIDS initiative in Malawi, have developed in strength and scope over several decades. Others, including our newly established partnership in global aging, are exciting, cutting-edge projects, engaging academia, nonprofit organizations, the private sector, and both local and global community groups.
Complex global problems require action and collaboration among multiple players, and in response, our partnerships increasingly have become more strategic and multilateral.
We aim for partnerships that have potential to make an impact upon major public health challenges, that strengthen the Gillings School and its partner institutions, and can be sustained over time. Of particular interest are partnerships that align with our strategic priorities – infectious diseases, obesity, water, cancer, global aging, health disparities, and chronic, lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes. Below we highlight several of our global partners.
The Galapagos Islands are a world heritage site and the birthplace of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Population growth, resource conflict, tourism and economic development have created a huge strain on the islands’ water resources and marine ecosystem. A collaborative partnership has been created between UNC and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador designed to foster research, education, and outreach programs in the islands, with the larger goals of advancing conservation efforts in the Galapagos and promoting better understanding of ecologically sensitive and protected areas worldwide. The Gillings School is a major actor in this partnership, particularly around water resources and human health.
FHI 360 is a nonprofit human development organization with expertise in health, education, nutrition, environment, economic development, civil society, gender equality, youth, research and technology, and a presence in the U.S. and more than 60 countries. Their longstanding partnership with the Gillings School includes joint grants and major support for the Water Institute at UNC’s annual Water and Health Conference. One of the most notable areas of partnership has been the establishment of FHI360-UNC Global Health Research Fellowship, which started in 2004 and has supported over 22 Gillings students.
The Gillings School works with Cambridge University (UK), MIT AgeLab, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Carol Woods and other groups in the public and private sectors on aging. The focus is on transformative solutions for healthy aging-in-place through technology, with the goal of implementing smart technologies for healthy, successful aging-in-place, as well as interdisciplinary training of the next generation of leaders in global aging.
The Gillings School and the Institut Pasteur have a partnership built around Gillings post-doctoral students selected to work in some of Pasteur’s global research sites. Based in Paris and founded by Louis Pasteur in 1887, the Institut Pasteur is one of the world’s leading private nonprofit centers for scientific research including immunology, molecular biology, and the neurosciences. The Institut Pasteur’s International Network is comprised of a multi-national team of scientists and includes 33 research institutes spanning five continents.
IntraHealth focuses on improving health worker performance, strengthening health systems, harnessing technology, and leveraging partnerships. IntraHealth has been working for over 30 years in more than 90 countries to empower health workers to serve communities in need. The IntraHealth UNC Summer Fellows Program has provided wonderful opportunities for Gillings students since 2010. The Fellows are placed in a specific project, where they work directly with IntraHealth staff, and also participate as a group in activities, seminars, and rotations with a variety of mentors.
Both the Gillings School and RTI International have major strengths in implementation science, a research area focused on action needed to assist adoption of evidence-based interventions or policies into everyday health practices. We have formed a consortium to protect and improve the health and well-being of people living in North Carolina, the U.S. and the world by accelerating uptake of effective and innovative clinical and public health programs and services in communities.
The Sanofi Global Nutrition Scholars program represents a unique and visionary partnership between academia and industry. The program currently supports four gifted students – three from China and one U.S. student working in China – to study for their PhD in Nutrition at UNC and complete a summer internship at Sanofi or one of its partners. The program has provided a springboard for initiating a wider strategic partnership around non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cancer and effective methods for patient engagement.
The Triangle Global Health Consortium, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 2009 by UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, N.C. State University, IntraHealth International, RTI International, FHI360 and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. The founding chair of the board is the Associate Dean for Global Health at Gillings. Its mission is to establish North Carolina as an international center for research, training, education, advocacy and business dedicated to improving the health of the world’s communities.
More than twenty years ago, Professor Mike Cohen and a team from UNC-Chapel Hill were invited by the Malawian government to help the country develop treatment protocols for sexually transmitted infections. UNC has been working with the Ministry of Health in Malawi ever since. The mission of UNC Project−Malawi is to identify innovative, culturally acceptable, and relatively inexpensive methods of reducing the risk of HIV/STI and infectious disease transmission through research; strengthen the local research capacity through training and technology transfers; and improve patient care for the people of Malawi.
The Gillings School and the University of Cambridge have joined forces in an effort to transform public health. The partnership, which started in 2012, builds on the two universities’ complementary strengths in areas such as biostatistics, epidemiology, obesity, non-communicable diseases, aging, health behavior and global health. It continues to produce new and innovative public health research born out of multi-disciplinary collaboration. These projects were funded by a donation from Drs Dennis and Mireille Gillings as well as contributions from both University partners.