Scholarly Concentration: Global Health


Brian Blackburn, MD

Eran Bendavid, MD

Objectives and Goals

Global Health is an application area in the Scholarly Concentration program. The goals of our program are to expose students to the primary issues in the field of of Global Health, and give them the tools to begin addressing these through hands-on field research. Some specific goals include:

  1. Giving students an understanding of the spectrum of challenges—from political, to sociological, to biomedical—that limit provision of health care to the world’s poorest people. 
  2. Provide students with insights into problem-solving for complex international health issues.
  3. Foster mentored hands-on experience in the field that applies knowledge attained in this application to real world problems of the world’s poorest people.


Students who pursue Global Health in addition to their 6 units of foundation coursework are required to complete 6 units of Global Health coursework and are required to complete a core course requirement. This requirement will most commonly be fulfilled by any one of the following eleven core courses; the remainder may be drawn from other Global Health-related courses (see Course Work page).

Students who matriculated prior to Autumn 2020 and would like to use a previously offered course towards the Global Health SC requirement, please contact the SC directors for further guidance.  

EARTHSYS 114/ EARTHSYS 214/ ESS 213/ HUMBIO 114  Global Change and Emerging Infectious Disease
The changing epidemiological environment. How human-induced environmental changes, such as global warming, deforestation and land-use conversion, urbanization, international commerce, and human migration, are altering the ecology of infectious disease transmission, and promoting their re-emergence as a global public health threat. Case studies of malaria, cholera, hantavirus, plague, and HIV.
Units: 4-5

EPI 225: Introduction to Epidemiologic and Clinical Research
The skills to design, carry out, and interpret epidemiologic studies, particularly of chronic diseases. Topics: epidemiologic concepts, sources of data, cohort studies, case-control studies, cross-sectional studies, sampling, measures of association, estimating sample size, and sources of bias. Prerequisite: A basic/introductory course in statistics or consent of instructor.
Units: 3

EPI 226: Intermediate Epidemiologic and Clinical Research Methods
The principles of study design, measurement, confounding, effect modification, and strategies for minimizing bias in clinical and epidemiologic studies. Prerequisite: 225 or consent of instructor.
Units: 3

EPI 231: Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases
Principles of the transmission of the infectious agents (viruses, bacteria, rickettsiae, mycoplasma, fungi, and protozoan and helminth parasites). The role of vectors, reservoirs, and environmental factors. Pathogen and host characteristics that determine the spectrum of infection and disease. Endemicity, outbreaks, and epidemics of selected infectious diseases. Principles of control and surveillance.
Units: 3

HUMBIO 129S: Global Public Health
The class is an introduction to the fields of international public health and global medicine. It focuses on resource poor areas of the world and explores major global health problems and their relation to policy, economic development, culture and human rights. We discuss technical solutions as well as the importance of the social determinants of health, and emphasize multi-sectoral approaches to care. The course is intended to challenge all students to think globally, and is geared for students interested in exploring how their major interests cold be directed to solve global health issues. We provide opportunities for in-depth discussion and interaction with experts in the field.
Units: 3

MED 226: Practical Approaches to Global Health Research (EPI 237, INTLPOL 290)
How do you come up with an idea for a useful research project in a low resource setting? How do you develop a research question, prepare a concept note, and get your project funded? How do you manage personnel in the field, complex cultural situations, and unexpected problems? How do you create a sampling strategy, select a study design, and ensure ethical conduct with human subjects? This course takes students through the process of health research in under-resourced countries from the development of the initial research question and literature review to securing support and detailed planning for field work. Students progressively develop and receive weekly feedback on a concept note to support a funding proposal addressing a research question of their choosing. Aimed at graduate students interested in global health research, though students of all disciplines interested in practical methods for research are welcome.
Units: 3

If taken as a 1 unit audit course, may be used as below with at least two other seminars to complete Core Course requirement or may be used for the elective requirement


MED 232: Global Health: Scaling Health Technology Innovations in Low Resource Settings
Recent advances in health technologies - incorporating innovations like robotics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and smart sensors - have raised expectations of a dramatic impact on health outcomes across the world. However, bringing innovative technologies to low resource settings has proven challenging, limiting their impact. This course explores critical questions regarding the implementation and impact of technological innovations in low resource settings. The course will feature thought leaders from the health technology community, who will explore examples of technologies that have been successful in low resource communities, as well as those that have failed. Students will think critically to consider conditions under which technologies reach scale and have positive impact in the global health field. This course is open to undergraduate students, graduate students, and medical students. Graduate students and MD students can enroll for 2 units. Students enrolling in the course for a third unit will also work on group projects, each of which will focus on the potential opportunity for a health technology in a low resource setting and consider approaches to ensure its impact at scale. Students enrolled in the class for three units will also have additional assignments, including weekly discussion posts. Students must submit an application and be selected to receive an enrollment code.
Units: 2-3

Note: Must be taken for 3 units to fulfill the Core Course Requirement; if taken for 2 units, will only fulfill the Elective Course Requirement, but not the Core Course requirement


MED 294: Global Health: Through an Equity Lens
In this course, current topics of global health will be discussed while focusing on an equity lens. Topics include decolonizing global health, climate and vulnerable populations, the poverty trap, inequities in reproductive rights, inequities for child health as well as global gender and racial disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sessions will include lectures from experts in the field, student presentations and class discussions. Requirements for the course include attendance and participation in class discussions, a short presentation, and a final paper. This course will be taught by the Director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health, Dr. Michele Barry and Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, Professor of Ophthalmology and Global Medicine and co-founder of the Himalayan Cataract Project. Course enrollment is open to graduate students and undergraduate students.
Units: 2-3

PEDS 124: Global Child Health (HUMBIO 124C, MED 124)
This course introduces students to key challenges to the health and well being of children worldwide. We explicitly focus on child and public health problems in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) to reflect the global burden of disease among children. We will review the scope and magnitude of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, as well as examine regional variations. We will then identify both medical and non-medical causes, effects of, as well as interventions to address, some of the biggest child health problems. The course will also prevent an overview of the role of culture, gender, and non-state actors (NGOs, foundations, etc.) on health and health policy.
Units: 3-5

PEDS 223: Human Rights and Global Health
Open to medical students, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates. Examines the newly emerging field of human rights and global health, beginning with the essential background into the field of human rights, and the recent emergence of health as a human right. Emphasis is on the pioneering work of Dr. Paul Farmer and Partners in Health and the challenge he and his organization have posed to the conventional wisdom about approaches to combating poor health and disease worldwide. Topics include the "big three" infectious diseases -- tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS -- as well as emerging infectious diseases, clean water and sanitation, and malnutrition and famine.
Units: 3

PEDS 250/ PEDS 150: Social and Environmental Determinants of Health
How do race/ethnicity and social economic status contribute to health disparities, how are vulnerable populations uniquely at risk for poor health outcomes, and how does where we live and work influence our health status? Explore the processes through which social status and environmental determinants adversely affect health and drive inequalities. Discuss clinical, public health and policy solutions for advancing health equity from the perspective of health professionals working in multiple sectors. Other topics include: gender, age, individual and structural bias; language, education; vulnerable populations (e.g., the homeless, the incarcerated, immigrant populations, children, and uninsured/underinsured); life course; environmental forces (e.g., urban design/planning, traffic, green space, housing, food access, law enforcement, and media); and innovative community-engaged and policy solutions.
Units: 3

SOMGEN 207/ INTLPOL 291       Theories of Change in Global Health
Open to graduate students studying in any discipline whose research work or interest engages global health. Upper-class undergraduates who have completed at least one of the prerequisite courses and who are willing to commit the preparatory time for a graduate level seminar class are welcome. The course undertakes a critical assessment of how different academic disciplines frame global health problems and recommend pathways toward improvements. Focuses on evaluating examples of both success and failure of different theories of change in specific global health implementations. Prerequisites: ECON 118, CEE 265D, HUMBIO 129S or HUMBIO 124C.
Units: 3-4


All students in the Application must complete at least one quarter of international research; four quarters are preferred.

Scholarly Concentrations & the MD Program

The Scholarly Concentration (SC) program is a required, structured program of study in the Medical Student Curriculum that promotes in-depth learning and scholarship. The SC's provide medical students with faculty-mentored scholarly experiences in areas of individual interest combined with structured coursework to support this scholarship.