Symposium focuses on global health efforts

The annual Baylor Global Health Symposium was held Jan. 22, offering a glimpse of the work students and faculty are doing in healthcare across the world as well as a look into what the future of global health holds by keynote speaker Dr. Michael Merson, director of the Duke Global Health Institute.

The annual symposium was the first held under the leadership of Dr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy, who joined the College as director of Baylor Global Initiatives and professor of medicine and gastroenterology last summer.

She provided an overview of Baylor Global Initiatives, including work being done globally in the areas of healthcare delivery research, education, international patient care and healthcare systems innovation. She highlighted the efforts of the Baylor Global Innovation Center, just one component of Baylor Global Initiatives, such as developing portable diagnostic devices for cancer screening in resource-poor settings, mobile education tools for healthcare providers abroad, and the epidemic smart pod.

In his keynote talk, Merson discussed some of the key areas that will be central to global health. These include:

  • Finalizing the unfinished agenda of the Millennium Development Goals, which include reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • The global burden of chronic diseases, including diabetes and cancer
  • Universal healthcare at country and global levels
  • New threats, including re-emerging and emerging infections such as Ebola
  • New world health order, or the shifting east to Brazil, Russia, India and China of the world’s economic clout

Also at the symposium, faculty recipients of global health pilot project grants presented their work, including:

  • Dr. Johnny Chen, professor of surgery and molecular and cellular biology, “Targeting cyclophilin A and the ERK for the treatment of liver-fluke associated cholangiocarcinoma: A preclinical study,” study site: Thailand
  • Dr. Neil Hanchard, assistant professor of molecular and human genetics, “Using genomics to understand differences in clinical outcome in children with severe malnutrition,” study site: Jamaica
  • Dr. Jose Serpa, assistant professor of medicine – infectious disease, “Taenia solium antigen assay for the diagnosis of neurocysticercosis,” study site: Peru
  • Dr. Graeme Mardon, professor of pathology, “Collaborative African Genomics Network,” study site: Africa
  • Dr. Rojelio Mejia, assistant professor of medicine – infectious disease, “Detection of gastrointestinal parasites by multi-parallel quantitative real-time PCR and associations with growth delay in early childhood: Findings from a birth cohort in rural Ecuador,” study site: Ecuador

Students also presented posters of their work in global health. The first-place winner was Rebecca Jeun and runner-up was M.D./Ph.D. student Megan Barry.