For many of us, our daily interactions are most often with our students, patients and our colleagues. With the bustling pace of our days, it’s easy to forget that there is a whole wide world beyond the rich and complex landscape of the University of Minnesota.
To be a world-class university (which I believe the U is), we need to be engaged with people and places beyond our walls. In the same way that it is easy to forget the rest of the world in the details of our days, unassuming Minnesotans might be surprised to see our University listed in the top 100 global organizations in the Nature Index, which tracks the affiliations of high-quality scientific articles (we are #38!). This is a well-earned result of our excellence, collaboration and dedication to our mission.
In addition to collaborations on publications, much of our staff and faculty work daily to improve the global relationships we need to build not only for our own success but for others’. I am extremely proud of the many faculty and staff across the health sciences leading and collaborating with global partners to advance health worldwide.
To advance health globally, we must dissolve differences and share resources with each other across physical borders and cultural boundaries. We must build the capacity of others as well as ourselves to unleash the knowledge and resources of those around us.
Here are some highlights of our faculty and staff who are affecting global change every day:
- Jeff Bender (School of Public Health) and Katey Pelican (College of Veterinary Medicine) are leading the USAID One Health Workforce Project and are working with government officials and educators around the world to train health professionals and veterinarians to better prevent, detect, and treat infectious diseases. The results of these interdisciplinary collaborations include student projects such as rabies vaccination programs and e-learning activities at institutions around the world.
- Chas Salmen (Medical School), as Director of the Mfangano Community Health Field Station, is breaking down the roadblocks between global health practitioners and local communities by launching a community-rooted enterprise in collaboration between the University of Minnesota, Maseno University, and the Organic Health Response of Mfangano Island in Kenya. In partnership with the community, he seeks to advance community-based research, bilateral training opportunities for health practitioners from Kenya and the U.S., and foster long-term resilience among the communities of Lake Victoria.
- Carolyn Porta (School of Nursing and Associate Vice President of Clinical Affairs), as P.I. of the USAID funded Afghan University Partnership, is working to improve clinical, educational, professional and leadership skills for the health sciences faculty in Kabul, Afghanistan. This partnership between the University of Minnesota and Kabul University of Medical Sciences (KUMS), led by Carolyn and operationalized by the Center for Global Health & Social Responsibility team, is strengthening the KUMS faculties in midwifery, anesthesiology, medical lab technology, and dentistry. In a time of increasing instability, limited institutional and human resources, and armed conflict posing serious threats to sustaining successes, this partnership is enabling Afghan university faculty to educate the future health care workforce in Afghanistan.
These faculty and staff show clearly the enhanced impact we can make when we work across our disciplines. As a University, we have both incredible accomplishments and unleashed potential. Through breaking down silos, we expand our capacity to strengthen health and wellness at home and globally. We will make change together.
Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD
Vice President for Clinical Affairs