Since its inception in 1979 recognizing the late Senator John J. Sparkman's global understanding about the linkage between health and human development, and the important role that the United States could play in collaborating with less developed countries, the Sparkman Center has successfully collaborated with institutions abroad in implementing graduate-level educational and training programs in public health. We have collaborated with, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru, Chiang Mai University in Thailand, University of West Indies in Jamaica, Universidad del Valle in Colombia and the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDRB) to implement public health training programs. In addition, the Center collaborated with the WHO and PAHO and sponsored numerous short-term training programs in these and various other developing countries during its early history.  Since that early history, programs supported by the Sparkman Center focused on nutrition and then moved to the health work force needs relating to the HIV epidemic. 

In 2003, in the context of many developments and evolving perspectives and challenges in the areas of international development and global health, the vision and mission of the Sparkman Center were changed with the approval of the UA Board of Trustees to those included on this webpage.  The name was also changed to the UAB John J. Sparkman Center for Global Health.

Since 2007, we have guided the SCGH activities based on prior partnerships and opportunities.  We have also taken on expanded education programs based on interest and demand both within the school and across the UAB campus.  Many of the UAB and community activities supported by the SCGH are designed with a “Glocal” approach, i.e. “think global, act local”. Collectively, we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish and look forward to continued developments in the SCGH and with our international and local partners. 


Since its establishment in 1979, the Sparkman Center for Global Health has developed partnerships with government agencies, academic institutions and NGOs in 18 countries. The Center has also collaborated with international organizations such as the World Health Organization to sponsor numerous publications and short-term training programs in other countries. The information below details many of the Center's achievements and activities over the last 35 years, including historic collaborations with partners from the Caribbean, South America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe to establish public health training programs:

In addition to helping partner countries establish programs to build public health capacity, the Sparkman Center also collaborates with international and U.S. based institutions to offer short-term training programs and to develop and disseminate training publications.

  • World Health Organization and Pan-American Health Organization: Longstanding partnership with the WHO and PAHO on a number of initiatives including the development and dissemination of a training manual for primary health care workers in 1982.

  • Summer Institute: Over its 10 year history, the Summer Institute course trained 360 people from 29 countries and brought together over 30 distinguished faculty from UAB and elsewhere to share their expertise and experience as leaders in public health research and practice.

  • Jamaica Field Course: This course brings Caribbean region students together with US-based students in shared laboratory and field experiences in Kingston, Jamaica. Since its establishment in 2000, over 300 students from 28 countries have participated in the course.

  • SIFAT: The Center works directly with SIFAT to offer periodic seminars, workshops and courses that combine the best in academic research with appropriate technologies in a community development context to address basic human needs essential to good health.

  • Campus based programs: The Sparkman Center has engaged and prepared the UAB community since the 1980s with educational and outreach programs relevant for health related disciplines. Over the last five years, the Center has significantly expanded its campus based programs to promote the development of global citizenship among students, faculty and staff across all disciplines at UAB.

  • 1983: The Sparkman Center Newsletter,a quarterly publication with a circulation of more than 500, is started.

  • 1985: Co-sponsored an international conference on health education in Mexico City, Mexico with the International Union of Health Education, and other international organizations.

  • 1987: A conference on "The Application of Social Sciences in Health Programs" that involved faculty from UV, UPCH, and UAB as well as external experts was held health in Lima, Peru.

  • 1988: Began publication of the Sparkman Center Series in International Health, a series of monographs related to Center activities. The first issue, "Aplicaciones de las ciencias sociales en programas de salud," (Applications of the Social Sciences to Health Programs) contained the proceedings of the Center-sponsored conference of the same name that was held in Lima, Peru in collaboration with UV and UPCH.

  • 1990: The Sparkman Center in conjunction with the UAB-SOPH joins the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH).

  • 1990: Mahidol University Faculty of Public Health in Bangkok, Thailand- Activities included support for a new MPH track in dental public health in the already established MPH program and the development of an international dental public health MPH program at MU-FPH.

  • 1992: Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia- Development and enhancement of programs in social sciences, biostatistics, and occupational health. The Center continued to work closely with UV through 1992 to assure the establishment of the Masters level public health program and the later addition of the occupational health.

  • 1993: Beijing Medical University, People's Republic of China- Collaborative program in dental public health which led to the development of a Masters in Dental Public Health.

  • 2000: A field course in Jamaica, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Surveillance, and Control, is initiated in collaboration with faculty at the UWI Mona campus.

  • 2001: UAB-South Asia International Training and Research in Environmental and Occupational Health (ITREOH), a Fogarty International Center sponsored program with Manipal University (India), University of Kelaniya (Sri Lanka) and Aga Khan University (Pakistan) is awarded.

  • 2001: The Seminar Series in Global Health is established to provide a forum for UAB faculty, staff, and students to present and discuss their research, training, educational, and/or service efforts on public health issues of global significance.

  • 2001: An annual Global Health Symposium was initiated i to provide an in-depth discussion forum on current public health issues of local, national, and global relevance. Prominent local, regional and national speakers and panelists are invited to participate in the forum with past topics such as Global Capacity Building in Public Health, Preparedness for Emerging Infections and Biodefense and Implementing HIV Care and Treatment Programs for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

  • 2003: First collaborative conference between SIFAT and Sparkman, “The State of the World’s and Alabama’s Mothers 2003”.

  • 2007: After being named Director, Dr. Craig Wilson, established collaborative activities with the University of Zambia School of Medicine (UNZA SOM) which at the time was the only SOM in Zambia and had the only degree programs for Nursing, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy and Biomedical Sciences.

  • 2007: The Sparkman Center formalizes partnership with UAB School of Nursing WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center for International Nursing.

  • 2008: Zambia HIV Nurse Practitioner Program: Developed in collaboration with the Zambia Ministry of Health and national nursing leadership with initial funding from the Sparkman Center.

  • 2009: eGranary Digital Library Project: The Sparkman Center initially developed custom portals of information resources for students and practitioners in health-related disciplines in Zambia but have since expanded the scope of the project to include resources for teachers and students.

  • 2009:​ Supported the establishment of new MPH degree programs at the following universities. Manipal University in Manipal, India Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan University of Kelaniya in Kelaniya (Colombo), Sri Lanka University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago

  • 2010: After receiving a USAID supported planning grant in 2009, Dr. Wilson assisted the UNZA SOM in successfully competing for a Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) program with the University of Zambia (UNZA), Copperbelt University, Lusaka Apex Medical University and Cavendish University. The MEPI program in Zambia seeks to strengthen infrastructure and increase the number of health care workers trained by expanding innovative multidisciplinary medical education.

  • 2010: UAB served as one of 16 exchange sites in the U.S.. for the Global Health Professional Fellows Program through a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S.. Department of State.

  • 2011: Zambian Educational Partnership for Advanced Care and Training (ZEPACT)- Consortium with UNZA SOM, Vanderbilt University and University of Maryland for capacity building in a number of health care workforce sectors.

  • 2012: UAB joined the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in Ethiopia as an institutional partner to advise and support in the implementation of an eLearning initiative to improve medical education in Ethiopia

  • 2007-present: The Sparkman Center has also significantly expanded its campus based programs to promote the development of global citizenship among students, faculty and staff across all disciplines at UAB in the last 5 years.

Dr. Juan Navia


Dr. José Alvarez


Dr. Charles Stephenson


Dr. Sten Vermund


Dr. Nalini Sathiakumar


Dr. Craig Wilson


Dr. Janet Turan Updated FINAL

Dr. Janet M. Turan