Spring 2014

Unified Global Health Agenda

New center will take advantage of Tufts’ unique constellation of schools

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Mkaya Mwamburi. Photo: Kelvin Ma

Tufts University is marshaling its far-ranging research and policy expertise to address global health challenges on five continents. The new Tufts Center for Global Public Health, based in the medical school’s Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, will focus on infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases and maternal and child health, employing interdisciplinary research and programs designed to address inequities in access to care.

“The new Tufts center reflects our commitment to improving the human condition through education and discovery,” says Dean Harris A. Berman, a professor of public health and community medicine. “As the world undergoes demographic, sociocultural, economic and epidemiological transitions, research at the center will seek to stay ahead of the curve.”

In partnerships with local collaborators and communities, the center will work to improve health in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe and the United States. Research areas include HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, nutrition, food security and sanitation and hygiene. The new center aligns with the university’s recently approved strategic plan, “Tufts: The Next 10 Years,” which calls for deploying Tufts’ considerable intellectual capital to help solve the most pressing issues of our times.

Mkaya Mwamburi, an associate professor of public health and community medicine, will direct the center. “We are deeply committed to understanding the diverse factors that lead to inequalities between and within populations and high burdens of disease in certain regions,” he says. The center will work directly with communities to develop solutions that are sustainable over time. Mwamburi was a surgeon in his native South Africa before coming to Tufts to earn his Ph.D. from the Sackler School in 2006. He also earned an M.S. in economics from Tufts in 2013.

Faculty researchers have been pursuing their individual projects largely in isolation, driven by personal interests, Mwamburi told the Tri-Town Transcript, based in Boxford, Mass. In contrast, he said, “this center has been getting everyone together, because if we work together, we can get more funding and have a better impact [on global health].” Tufts-based research projects are currently under way in Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Pakistan and India, as well as several South American countries.

The new center will draw on Tufts’ unique constellation of schools: Faculty members from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the Fletcher School, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering will contribute to the center’s efforts.

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