Institute for Global Health and SPHHS to host panel on global health challenges

October 23, 2017

The UMass Amherst Institute for Global Health (IGH) and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) will host “Global Health Challenges: A Panel Discussion for Collaborative Solutions” in the Integrative Learning Center Room S240 on Friday, November 3 from 9:30 to 11:15 am. The event will feature panelists Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation (NSF); Jennie Ward-Robinson, president and CEO of the PAHO Foundation; and Michael Depledge, former head of science at the UK Environment Agency.

The panelists will discuss their perspectives on key challenges in global health for the future in an interactive format, with questions from the audience encouraged throughout the discussion. Tim Ford, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and newly appointed Director of the Institute for Global Health, will serve as moderator and will direct panelists to think about areas of global health that are particularly relevant for the state’s flagship campus to address.

“I see the IGH as a tremendous opportunity for the UMass Amherst campus community and beyond to engage in the global health debate,” says Ford. “Multiple perspectives are necessary to inform solutions to global health problems that should include representation from every school and college on the UMass campus, and indeed the surrounding institutions and community. Only a truly interdisciplinary approach can begin to address global health challenges.”

“Global Health Challenges: A Panel Discussion for Collaborative Solutions” is the first in a prospective series of events and serves as an introduction to the recently reconstituted Institute for Global Health. The panel discussion will be followed by a student poster session from 11.15-1.00 pm, to provide an opportunity for students and faculty to interact more closely with the panelists.

“It is a unique opportunity to lead the Institute for Global Health and help to chart a new mission and vision,” says Ford. “To launch new directions for the institute with a panel of experts who have each worked in international health and advised policy makers at the highest levels of governments from multiple nations is extremely exciting. IGH is an opportunity to build partnerships with organizations that directly address global health. To this end, I am delighted that Jennie Ward-Robinson is part of the panel discussion. We have already initiated discussions on a PAHO Foundation—UMass Amherst partnership that would allow the university to engage in implementation and translational research in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Adds Ford, “My hope is that faculty, students and others will actively engage in the discussion and will contribute to the vision for IGH.”

The event is free and open to the public.

About the panelists:

From left: Rita Colwell, Jennie Ward-Robinson, and Michael Depledge

Dr. Rita Colwell is a Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, senior advisor and chairman emeritus at Canon US Life Sciences, Inc., and president and CEO of CosmosID, Inc. She served as the eleventh director of the National Science Foundation from 1998 to 2004. In her capacity as NSF director, she served as co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. She has held many advisory positions in the U.S. government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. Colwell is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, and has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 750 scientific publications. Her research interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health. Colwell is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world.

Dr. Jennie Ward Robinson, President and CEO of the PAHO Foundation, has over fifteen years of public service within nonprofit and for profit communities. She has served as Director of Medical and Scientific Affairs of the Alzheimer’s Association, was the founding CEO and Executive Director of the Institute for Public Health and Water Research, and an Associate Professor at The School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Texas A&M University. In addition, she has served on various Boards, including the EPA’s National Drinking Water Council, as a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research and Medicine, the Alliance for Water Efficiencies, and the Illinois Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Ward-Robinson holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has completed numerous executive and leadership training programs from leading institutions that include the Center for Creative Leadership and the Kellogg School of Nonprofit Management.

Dr. Michael Depledge is Chair of Advisory Board at the University of Exeter Medical School. From 2002-2006, he served as the Chief Scientific Advisor of the UK Government’s Environment Agency. After a 4 year term in which he produced the Agency’s first ever Science Strategy and created a Europe-wide partnership among the science departments of EU member state environment agencies, he returned to academia to take up his current Chair. Depledge also currently serves as chairman of the Science Advisory Group for Environment and Climate Change, in DG-Research, European Commission in Brussels. He is also the Royal Society’s environment representative on the European Academies Science Advisory Council. Since 1990 he has been an expert advisor on marine pollution to the United Nations, working in Brazil, Costa Rica, India, China, Vietnam and several other countries to develop the RAMP (Rapid Assessment of Marine Pollution) program for UNEP’s Global Oceans Observing System (GOOS). He also serves as an expert advisor to the World Health Organization (2001- ongoing). Depledge is interested in all aspects of biology, but especially the ways in which anthropogenic activities affect the environment and human health. The ecotoxicological research he conducted has focused on the effects of environmental pollutants on the physiology and behavior of marine invertebrates and subsequent ecological and evolutionary consequences. He has a particular interest in biomarkers that allow changes in the health and physiological status of organisms to be monitored over time, and how environmental change impacts the health and wellbeing of humans.