cover 4The focus of the current issue—global health—highlights not only the challenges that are prevalent in parts of the developing world, but also parallel challenges here at home. For example, the work we do in Zambia, where the School of Medicine has a number of well-established partnerships, sheds light on problems we confront in Alabama with our largely rural population and related health disparities.

To support the School of Medicine's global health initiatives, please contact us

Volume 42, Number 1

Global HealthWally Carlo in Zambia with a birth attendant (front row center) he helped train, surrounded by more than a dozen children she has delivered safely over the years.UAB Professor of Pediatrics Wally A. Carlo, M.D., doesn’t need a research paper to prove the value of the School of Medicine’s global health initiatives. All he has to do is look at a single photo.

In the photo, Carlo is standing in a Zambian village surrounded by a young woman and 13 children. The woman, a birth attendant whom Carlo and UAB faculty and students helped instruct through a newborn care training program, delivered all the children in the photo.

In a country with infant mortality rates as high as 25 percent just 15 years ago, this picture is worth a thousand words to Carlo. “We know we can save lives with this program,” Carlo says. “When we started this work in Zambia in 2000, one out of four kids would die in the first year. Now it’s down to about one in 15. If this program were implemented worldwide, it could save one million babies each year.”

UAB has been involved in these types of global health initiatives for decades, but last year the School of Medicine formalized its commitment to such programs by naming Michael S. Saag, M.D., the Jim Straley Endowed Chair

map2The School of Medicine is engaging with the world through international service and training for medical students and residents, as well as through the more than 15 countries where our faculty offer direct care and health care training to local citizens. In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked UAB a Top 200 Best Global University, welcoming students, faculty, and staff from more than 100 countries. As this map shows, our reach is broad, and with the addition of new global health leadership and a greater understanding of the ways in which our international efforts enhance care at home, our ability to change the world will only continue to grow. Click on the map below to see a larger version.

Albert SchweitzerRenowned medical missionary Dr. Albert Schweitzer“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

Those words from Dr. Albert Schweitzer perfectly sum up the powerful sense of mission at the heart of the humanitarian fellowship organization that bears his name. The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) was founded in the U.S. in 1940 to support the hospital that the renowned physician and Nobel Peace laureate established in Gabon, Africa in 1913. In 1979, the fellowship began sending medical students to work at the hospital. Today, the ASF is dedicated to improving the health of vulnerable populations by developing a corps of “Leaders in Service”—professionals skilled in creating positive change in their local communities, within the broader health and human service systems, and throughout the world. ASF selects approximately 250 new graduate student U.S. Fellows annually, each of whom partners with a community-based organization to develop and conduct a yearlong service project that addresses unmet health needs, while simultaneously undergoing ASF’s rigorous leadership development program.

1 Pillay homeRubin Pillay, assistant dean for global health innovation, led the Gates Foundation grant effort.Major international health foundations and organizations are taking notice of the School of Medicine’s increasingly robust global health programs. In fall 2015, the school received two of three $2.5 million grants awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to address pregnancy-related problems in South Africa. The grant effort was led was Rubin Pillay, M.D., Ph.D., assistant dean for global health innovation at the School of Medicine.

The Gates Foundation’s All Children Thriving initiative focuses on developing new technologies and approaches to ensure a healthy birth for mothers and children. “The grant challenge received 54 letters of intent from around the world, of which nine were invited to make full submissions,” says Pillay. “We were invited to make three full submissions, and of the three grant awards that were made, we received two.”

One of the projects is to develop a cervical ring to detect and prevent pre-term labor. In South Africa, approximately eight out of every 100 infants are born prior to 37 weeks of gestation; in 2011 there were approximately 84,000 preterm births in South Africa. 

Gorgas Josh Stripling Joshua Stripling (far left) participates in a hands-on envenomation lecture at the Gorgas Course in Lima, Peru.

A gift to the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program is helping to support resident training through the expansion of the program’s Global Health Track. The Global Health Track offers final-year residents the opportunity to take part in a month-long international rotation that combines clinical experience, didactics, and hands-on training. “Over the last 10 years, medical schools have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of residents who want to study medicine abroad,” says Martin Rodriguez, M.D., FACP, FIDSA, associate professor in the Department of Medicine and the Global Health Track faculty advisor. “From rural hospitals in Zambia to teaching clinics in Cameroon, we want our residents to experience education in a way they cannot in Birmingham.”

WhitleyRichard Whitley, of the Department of Pediatrics.Pediatrics Faculty Member Endows Research Chair

Richard J. Whitley, M.D., the Loeb Eminent Scholar Chair in Pediatrics, has made a generous gift in memory of his parents to establish the Helen and Robert Whitley Endowed Chair in the Department of Pediatrics, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. The chair will help the department recruit and/or retain an expert in translational research in pediatric infectious diseases.

According to Mitchell B. Cohen, M.D., the Katharine Reynolds Ireland Chair of Pediatrics, “It is most fitting that the chair endowed by Dr. Whitley honors his parents as the cycle of discovery, innovation, and excellence radiates back from him to the previous generation and forward from him to the next generation.”

UAB ArchivesWilliam Crawford Gorgas, M.D., when he was surgeon-general of the U.S. Army.Alabama native William Crawford Gorgas, M.D., (1854-1920) dedicated most of his professional life to conquering mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and yellow fever. While serving as the U.S. Medical Corps’ chief sanitary officer in Havana after the end of the

Spanish-American War, Gorgas successfully implemented new sanitation measures—including draining ponds and swamps, fumigation, mosquito netting, and public water systems—designed to reduce mosquito infestation. He later employed those strategies to clear the Panama Canal zone of yellow fever, enabling the canal's successful completion.

Born in Toulminville, Ala., Gorgas graduated from Bellevue Medical College in New York City in 1879. After serving with the U.S. Medical Corps, Gorgas was appointed to the Canal Commission in 1907 and was a U.S. delegate to the first Pan-American Scientific Congress in Chile in 1908. In December 1913, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Gorgas surgeon general of the Army, a role he served in until 1918. Gorgas suffered a stroke while in London in 1920 and died there on July 4.