Eric Wang

The University is considering founding a new Global Health Institute, pending the approval of the Yale Corporation, as part of a joint effort of the deans of the schools of Public Health, Nursing and Medicine.

According to Dean of the School of Public Health Sten Vermund, the institute would coordinate interdepartmental projects in global health and advance the global health agenda. The Yale Institute for Global Health, or YIGH, will be presented to the Corporation during its next meeting on Oct. 7, Vermund told the News. Many of Yale’s peers have similar centers for global health study, and Yale’s institute — projected to cost around $2.5 million for the first three years — would bring global health research at the University under one roof.

“We are really talking about an interprofessional, cross-school, cross-University approach to [global health],” said Nursing School Dean Ann Kurth. “So the opportunity here is really in line with what President Salovey has laid out about ‘one Yale’ and about our mission, which is … the impact on the world of the future generations.”

Last year, some students and faculty members expressed concerns about the future of global health study at Yale after the departure of Elizabeth Bradley, who became the president of Vassar College. As a professor, Bradley led the Global Health Initiative, introduced by former University President Richard Levin and then-Provost Peter Salovey in 2009 to promote global health research and education at Yale. As part of the initiative, the University created its undergraduate Multidisciplinary Academic Program in global health as well as the Global Health Leadership Institute, for which Bradley served as the faculty director.

Although undergraduates in the MAP program had multiple meetings with Director of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs James Levinsohn, and have been reassured by the Provost’s Office that support for the program will continue, another major global health program was cut in the wake of Bradley’s departure.

The Provost’s Office chose to cut all funding to the Global Health Leadership Institute, and as of April this year, some staff members, whose only affiliation with the University was through the GHLI, had been given layoff notices. The institute itself was integrated into the School of Public Health.

Last spring, faculty members interviewed by the News said they were hopeful that Vermund and Kurth, themselves both leaders in global health, would continue supporting related research at Yale.

Despite the loss of Provost’s funding, Vermund said the GHLI is thriving and all 20 of the institute’s program and research staff members, as well as faculty, were brought back to be affiliated with the School of Public Health or the medical school; all but two have chosen to stay at Yale. He added that the GHLI would become the part of the proposed new institute, and noted that it would be easy to “nest [the GHLI’s] specialty area — global health leadership and management — within the more generic YIGH.”

While there are already research programs at Yale addressing global health issues, Robert Alpern, the dean of the School of Medicine said there remains a great deal of interest in the subject among faculty members, many of whom are junior faculty “in need of mentoring.” The new institute would allow for the creation of any new projects and would serve as an umbrella organization for global health efforts at Yale.

The planners of the new institute are currently soliciting feedback and suggestions from various committees and entities at Yale, Kurth said. According to Vermund, the YIGH has already been supported by University Provost Benjamin Polak.

Polak did not respond to a request for comment.

The plans for the YIGH have also been presented for feedback to the newly created Provost’s Advisory Committee on International Affairs, chaired by Pericles Lewis, the founding president of Yale-NUS College who recently assumed the roles of vice president for global strategy and deputy provost for international affairs at Yale.

“The committee and I are very excited about the opportunity for Yale to have an even greater leadership role in this crucial area, building on the work of the past several years that was accomplished by professor Betsy Bradley,” Lewis said. “With the two new deans and the new organization for global health at Yale, we will have a great opportunity to extend our leadership in an important area and help achieve better health for people in lower- and middle-income countries and for lower-income people here in the U.S.”

The roughly $2.5 million in funding for the project would from each of Yale’s three health science schools: $1 million from the medical school, $900,000 from the School of Public Health and $600,000 from the Nursing School. According to Vermund, the total sum will be sufficient for a three-year period, after which the progress of the institute would be reassessed. The institute also hopes to receive support from other sources, such as grants, contracts and donations.

The international search for the director of the institute will begin once the project is approved by the Corporation. Vermund said the deans have not yet decided whether they should open the institute as quickly as possible, or only after a director is found.

In the spirit of cross-school and cross-University engagement, the director of the new institute would have joint appointments in the medical school, the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing, Kurth said.

“I think that’s part of walking the talk about the power of inter-professionalism,” she said. “It will be a truly joint effort across the health science schools, but of course we will engage the other schools as well.”

The Yale School of Public Health was founded in 1915.

Anastasiia | @asposnova