Georgetown University announced March 27 the appointment of Deus Bazira, who has a doctorate in public health, as the inaugural director of the Georgetown Global Health Institute (GHI), which was announced July 1, 2022.
The GHI builds on Georgetown’s universitywide Global Health Initiative launched April 25, 2017, which focuses on the exploration and development of practical solutions to health problems facing populations in need worldwide. The breadth of Georgetown faculty and student engagement in the field of global health enables Georgetown to bring a new, interdisciplinary perspective to the conversation.
The GHI will bring together various fields of study, including health, medicine, science, policy, law, ethics and international affairs, according to a March 27 email from University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95).
“It will foster collaboration, encourage and expand opportunities for research, and host dialogues that will convene leaders, scholars, practitioners, and community members around urgent global health topics, and it will connect with related efforts focused on issues from health equity to climate and sustainability,” DeGioia wrote.
Bazira said the vision of the institute is to advance scalable and sustainable global health solutions to improve outcomes worldwide, strengthen the capability of health systems to respond rapidly to global health threats and ultimately build a world where all people can lead healthy and productive lives.
“The approaches we support have to be innovative, and the solutions we seek must have potential for large-scale impact,” Bazira wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Bazira said he envisions his role as a GHI leader to be responsible for realizing the institute’s vision.
“My experience makes me realize that this assignment is bigger than me. It will take more than me for the Institute to succeed,” Bazira wrote. “I have to truly demonstrate servant leadership qualities in order to rally the GU global health community to work collaboratively guided by our collective mission.”
Dr. Edward B. Healton, the executive vice president for health sciences of Georgetown University Medical Center and executive dean of Georgetown’s School of Medicine, said the GHI will help to overcome new and persistent challenges in global health, especially in a world that is profoundly marked by enduring and unjust health inequities.
“Sustainable solutions to global health challenges will not come from any one discipline or any one approach, but from a meaningful, collaborative and interdisciplinary effort involving science, medicine, policy, health care management, law, business and many other fields,” Healton wrote to The Hoya.
Healton said the GHI aligns with Georgetown’s academic setting and Jesuit values.
“The Global Health Institute is very consistent with our Georgetown and Jesuit values, care of the communities, of the world, and seeking the common good,” Healton wrote. “As history has demonstrated time and again, the academic setting, especially ours at Georgetown, provides the ideal incubator where meaningful ideas can emerge, issues can be debated, and change can be inspired.”
The GHI offers a student fellowship program, which enables undergraduate and graduate students to work with faculty on research projects, participate in health-related events and network with peers and scholars in the field of global health.
Haley Wexelblatt (CAS ’24), a fall 2022 student fellow, works in a lab with Steven Singer, who has a doctorate in microbiology, to study the parasitic disease giardiasis, which leads to stunted growth in children through an inability to gain weight. Wexelblatt’s goal is to elucidate the pathway leading to increased intestinal epithelial permeability in giardiasis.
“As we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, global health crises lead to the disruption of economic and social systems, the overwhelming of health industries, and a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable,” Wexelblatt wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The GHI not only fosters interdisciplinary dialogue in the field of global health but funds and supports research that works toward health equity, according to Wexelblatt.
“Achieving greater global health equity requires the expertise of individuals across disciplines which is why the GHI’s efforts to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration is essential,” Wexelblatt wrote.
Bazira says the GHI’s impact has the potential to extend beyond the surrounding community.
“The mission is bigger than any individual and that it takes a team/village to accomplish,” Bazira wrote. “The approaches we support have to be innovative and the solutions we seek must have potential for large-scale impact.”