News

Post date: Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 2:40pm

By Mira Wang (Medill '18)

Dr. Julia Polk knows a thing or two about the path less taken.

After graduating from Northwestern University in 2007 with an anthropology major, global health minor and international experiences in Mexico and South Africa, Polk, whose name was Harris as an undergraduate student, went to Brazil for a year to conduct global health research at the National School of Public Health in Rio de Janeiro. Right afterwards, she moved to Beer Sheva, Israel, for a medical degree at Ben Gurion University, followed by an obstetrics and gynecology residency at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Now, she works as an OB/GYN and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai in New York City.

But Polk’s international experiences didn’t end with medical school; she still completes weeks-long trips in rural medical facilities in Liberia two to three times a year. Just this past June, she went to train nurses and midwives in the field.

Post date: Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 2:36pm

By Noelle Sullivan and Nicole Berry

According to Volunteer World, an online international volunteer placement platform, “International voluntary work plays a key role in delivering and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals,” such that “Volunteer World provides the chance to become active and help reach the SDG Goal #03 Good Health And Well-Being.” For prospective volunteers wanting to work in health facilities, available placement countries are predominantly located in the global South. Hosting health facilities appear remarkably similar in their need for foreign helpers willing to travel, regardless of whether they are in Tanzania or Guatemala.

The proliferation of online clinical placement companies like Volunteer World echoes a wider trend familiar to many of us working at universities in the global North: Global health travel is “hot.” Short-term medical missions, international health electives, volunteer placements—there’s something seductive about the idea of going to a place seemingly “in need” and “making a difference,” while having new experiences in the process.

For prospective global health travelers, the coexistence of poverty and medical need seems sufficient rationale to pack one’s bags and fly to a foreign country to “help.” Global health travelers operate under the compelling assumption that somehow their medicine is universal and that it will be universally appreciated by individuals experiencing presumed pervasive need.

Yet, within the hosting country, context challenges these presumptions. Assuming that populations are primed to receive whatever well-meaning help arrives mistakenly prioritizes volunteers themselves as protagonists. Indeed, such a narrative problematically dichotomizes volunteers as actors and poor populations as passive receivers—a form of decontextualized travel Teju Cole aptly terms “the white savior industrial complex.”

Post date: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 4:29pm

In a step towards continued cross-cultural collaborations, eight Northwestern faculty members and administrators traveled to Havana, Cuba, this past June to explore possible joint research opportunities with Cuban peers.

Four days of back-to-back meetings with University of Medical Sciences of Havana faculty and visits to family doctor offices, hospitals and specialty clinics highlighted Cuba’s public healthcare successes and yielded multiple possible research collaborations through diverse theoretical lenses.

The meetings come at a point in indefinite U.S.-Cuban relations. Yet Northwestern continues to intensify its ties with the country's academic community in an ongoing effort to promote the creation and sharing of knowledge across borders.

Post date: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 4:28pm

From Big Ten Network:

One school partners with one community to affect real, lasting change. 

That is the mission of GlobeMed, an organization founded at Northwestern University that empowers students from a variety of disciplines to pull together their knowledge and strengths to improve health equity around the world.

"From urban Detroit to rural Rwanda, we're doing things like renovating health clinics, launching nutrition programs and improving access to clean water,” says Victor Roy, a student at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and one of the founders of GlobeMed.

Post date: Friday, June 23, 2017 - 10:30am

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

Before his anticipated July 1 start date as Director General of the World Health Organization, former health minister for Ethiopia Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus embarks on a tour of the United States. Commonly referred to as “Dr. Tedros,” his ascension to Director General marks the first time in history a WHO Director-General will be an African. His election broke the “African-leadership glass ceiling,” despite Africa being a primary target of global health funding.

The lack of Africans in key global leadership positions reflects popular stereotypes dating back to colonialism and continuing to play out. The problem is systematic, and we’re participants in it.

For outsiders, Africa is a trope, the imagery of corruption, violence, starvation, overpopulation, and abject need so familiar we rarely question it. Vice-President Joe Biden and President George W. Bush each separately referred to Africa as a country.

From Medium

Post date: Monday, June 12, 2017 - 11:43am

Daniel Wozniczka | TEDxNorthwesternU

Millennials are contributing a lot to the world, and we're not just talking about Instagram photos of coffee. Dr. Daniel Wozniczka talks on how millennials are the key to the future of a better world for medicine.

Post date: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 1:51pm

Metabolic research becomes the foundation for enduring mentorship

Jennah Thompson-Vasquez ‘19, came to Northwestern thinking she would declare herself pre-med. Her lifelong interest in biological anthropology, cultivated in childhood by the TV show "Bones," led her to apply to Posner, and she’s glad she followed that instinct.

Thompson-Vasquez was matched with anthropology professor William Leonard, and she quickly took an interest in his nutritional health research. During summer 2016, Thompson worked with Leonard, his graduate assistant, Stephanie Levy, and two other undergraduates to measure variation in brown fat — a type of fat that actually uses energy — and the potential impact of brown fat on energy expenditure. Thompson-Vasquez helped recruit local participants and gather data, and the team showed that people with more brown fat show a greater rise in their metabolic rate when they are exposed to cold.

Post date: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 1:50pm

For Timothy Sita, ’17 MD, PhD, Feinberg’s 158th medical school commencement ceremony was an ideal moment to both reflect on his seven-year journey at Feinberg and look forward to his future as a physician-scientist.

“I feel a mixture of gratitude and humility. Looking around the auditorium, I’m surrounded by friends, family and faculty — without their support, I wouldn’t be here celebrating the completion of these degrees,” Sita said. During the ceremony, he was hooded by his wife, Elizabeth Sita, ’14 MD, whom he met during their first week of medical school in 2010

Post date: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 1:48pm

“I wouldn’t be here without Northwestern’s Summer Internship Grant Program,” says Jennifer Trammell.

That’s a common refrain among people fortunate enough to have received support from the program, commonly called SIGP. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, SIGP, which is coordinated by Northwestern Career Advancement, provides grants to help students take unpaid summer internships. And it’s clear from SIGP alumni that when it comes to the program’s impact, funding is just the tip of the iceberg.

Post date: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 1:47pm

School of Education and Social Policy seniors Juliana Bond, Stephanie Fox, Caroline Gold, and Kaitlin Shedd are among sixteen members of Northwestern University’s class of 2017 who will join Teach For America (TFA) after graduation, bringing high-quality education to students most in need around the country.

Northwestern’s corps members will commit the next two years to teaching low-income urban and rural public school students in states from New York to Idaho.

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