UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences 2017 in Review

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood announced in October that Global Health Sciences had been designated the Institute for Global Health Sciences, reinforcing the campus' commitment to address global health issues. As an Institute, IGHS is better positioned to support UCSF's researchers, educators and partners in our shared efforts to improve health and reduce health inequities at home and abroad. Here are a few additional highlights from 2017.


We welcomed our 10th cohort of master's students in September, shortly after our ninth class graduated in July. Like those who came before them, the class of 2017 is a thoughtful group, as these blog posts demonstrate. The capstone project remains the pinnacle of the degree program.

We also welcomed our second cohort of PhD students and a new PhD program director, Elizabeth Fair.

We launched Grand Rounds to showcase the linkage between education and research. Hosted by Executive Director Jaime Sepulveda, Global Health Grand Rounds brings together students and researchers to discuss how different sciences can help make progress on important global health problems.


Our faculty and staff conduct research around the globe to understand how to improve health in low-resource settings and translate those findings into health policy and practice. Among our many projects:

The Preterm Birth Initiative is conducting the largest cluster randomized control trial of group antenatal and postnatal care in the world to determine if group care can reduce rates of prematurity.

In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and ministries of health, we conduct household surveys and other studies to reduce the burden of HIV and other diseases. In Tanzania, for example, we are conducting several studies to help end the HIV epidemic there.

A study led by our Malaria Elimination Initiative is the first to quantify the economic benefits of eliminating malaria in the Asia Pacific region—an achievement that could save 400,000 lives, avert 123 million malaria cases, and generate an estimated $90 billion in healthcare savings, as well as savings from lost wages and productivity due to illness.

With partners at UCSF and in Mexico, we are running a large-scale trial of a low-cost and safe diabetes medication to determine if it can delay the onset of type-2 diabetes in people with prediabetes.

New Tools

Our researchers have developed new tools to improve diagnoses, pinpoint and respond to outbreaks of disease, provide better care and create opportunities for researchers to publish their work in low-resource settings:

UCSF researchers developed a blood test that can predict a mother’s risk of spontaneous preterm birth, offering hope of delaying early delivery for millions of women and babies.

The Virtual Mentor, an interactive, voice-controlled application, uses a smart speaker—like a phone or Google Home device—to guide birth attendants through complicated and/or emergency procedures. It's creators won a seed grant from Saving Lives at Birth to develop and test the idea.

DiSARM, a high-tech, low-cost application, uses GPS data and satellite imagery from Google Earth Engine to produce ‘risk maps’ that pinpoint where disease outbreaks are occurring or are likely to occur so that health programs can decide how best to use scarce resources.

The East African Journal of Applied Health Monitoring and Evaluation, created through a partnership between IGHS and Mzumbe University in Tanzania, aims to build a new monitoring and evaluation community that benefits Tanzania, East Africa and beyond.

Campus Partnerships

We are proud to collaborate with and support colleagues across UCSF who continue to expand the scope of global health and redefine what is possible in low-resource settings. With our support, the Department of Emergency Medicine was designated a WHO collaborating center.

We also partnered with the Center for Global Surgical Studies to develop policy recommendations to reduce the global burden of injuries and other medical conditions that need surgical care.

UCSF launched the Global Cancer Center, which aims to reduce cancer worldwide using all the research tools UCSF has to offer.

To support these programs and other UCSF global health researchers, the Institute opened offices in Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda to provide operational and administrative services to UCSF research projects.

Milestones and More

In October, our Global Health Group celebrated 10 years of making an impact in malaria elimination, public-private partnerships and evidence-to-policy research.

Eric Goosby, MD, director of our Center for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy, was reappointed United Nations Special Envoy for Tuberculosis by new UN Secretary-General António Guterres. In that role, he participated in the first WHO Global Ministerial Conference on ending TB, held in Moscow. He also was among experts in Tuberculosis prevention, treatment and elimination who gathered in the Bay Area to accelerate the global effort to end TB. At that meeting, a Lancet Commission on TB, whose Secretariat we host, launched; its findings will be presented in 2018.

In March, academics and health leaders from the University of California and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), the largest public university in Mexico, met in Mexico City in the first Binational Health Forum sponsored by the Health Working Group of the University of California-Mexico Initiative. They addressed health issues ranging from migration and violence to prevention of pandemics, diabetes and the portability of health insurance.

And finally, our Preterm Birth Initiative launched a project to provide knitted caps for preterm babies in East Africa in partnership with Warm Up America. The caps help regulate the infants' temperature, giving them a fighting chance to survive. In all, we collected more than 15,000 baby caps, many knitted by individuals moved by the problem of preterm birth.


Cover photo by Brienne McNally MS '17, education photo by Paul Joseph Brown, research photo by Nicholas Berger, emergency room photo by Maria Fleishmann/World Bank, and milestone photo by Kyle Daniels

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