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MPH Global Health track addresses emerging needs

Jan. 10, 2013, 10:13 AM

The new Global Health track of Vanderbilt’s Masters of Public Health Program takes students to places such as Hospital Nacional Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, where research is being done on the treatment of HIV patients.

Vanderbilt University is working to train a health care workforce that will be more integrated and team-oriented than ever before. One of the educational programs addressing new needs is the Vanderbilt Master of Public Health (MPH) Program, which launched a new track in Global Health last year.

Doug Heimburger, M.D., associate director for Education and Training at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, and director of the MPH global health track, said applications are now open for the second year of the expanded program. He said the global health track will accept applicants from multiple disciplines and levels of training because global health requires knowledge and leadership from diverse backgrounds.

“What will set our graduates apart from those from our peer institutions is a strong base of leadership and management skills taught by an interdisciplinary team, including instructors from the Owen Graduate School of Management, Biomedical Informatics, Peabody College of Education and Human Development and more,” Heimburger said.

As a Vanderbilt undergraduate student, Colby Passaro spent a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he practiced his Spanish and realized a lifelong desire to become a global health researcher. Now, as a member of the first group of MPH students in the global health track, Passaro is preparing for work that will take him to Lima, Peru, where his mentor, Aaron Kipp, M.D., research instructor in Medicine, has been focusing on treatment of HIV patients.

“Our project will be a survey to identify barriers to treatment in the clinics in and around Lima. I will administer a questionnaire for a minimum of three months. We hope we will learn enough to be able to modify treatment protocols in that area,” Passaro said.

Passaro, (B.A. ’10) worked as a political fundraiser, research assistant, and recruiter for Vanderbilt’s HIV Vaccine Program before he heard about the new MPH track at Vanderbilt. He said he applied immediately.

“I think it’s an exciting time to add it. I think it will change the conversation because non-clinical people are learning and working alongside those with medical training. It shifts the discussions and brings in new ideas,” Passaro said.

William Cooper, M.D., MPH, director of the MPH program, said applicants should be those who are passionate about becoming leaders in global public health. Currently, the MPH epidemiology program accepts M.D.- or Ph.D.-prepared applicants, while the global health track accepts applicants with bachelors and masters preparation, with preference given to those with prior experience in global health work.

Applications must be completed by Feb. 28. For more information, go to

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