2017 Global Health Week reflections

Written by Wayne A. Warner, Chancellor’s Fellow, DBBS and GHSAC president; and Cynthia Tang, in the Department of Anesthesiology at the School of Medicine and GHSAC honorary member

Both campuses were abuzz with global health themed activities from February 2025, during Global Heath Week (GHW).

GHW is an initiative of the Global Health Student Advisory Committee (GHSAC) with sponsoring support from the Office of the Provost, Global Health Center at the Institute for Public Health, Brown School, School of Medicine, Law School, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Assembly Series, and Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis.

This year featured a Global Health Career Fair and exciting talks by Dr. Jean-Francois Trani, associate professor, Brown School, Washington University;  Dr. Linda Garro, professor, University of California, Los Angeles; Dr. John McArthur and Dr. Gautam Dantas, associate professor, Department of Pathology & Immunology, Washington University. These events were well attended with standing room only in many cases. Students also had the opportunity to have breakfast and lunch with the visiting speakers.

On February 25, 50 students participated in Washington University’s Inaugural Global Health Case Competition (GHCC). Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor, started the morning with a keynote lecture on his work with childhood undernutrition and gut microbiota immaturity. Participants were then given their case assignment to develop a pilot program to effectively treat and prevent childhood malnutrition in Haiti. During this time, students had the opportunity to consult with WU experts from different disciplines. Our panel of experts included Sunita Parikh, PhD, Caline Mattar, MD, Kathryn P. Banks, JD, LL.M., Alvitta Ottley, PhD, Jerry Morrissey, PhD, and Andrew Knight, PhD. The winning teams were selected after an intense round of competition between 12 interdisciplinary teams with students drawn from 15 different Washington University programs.

Our judges included William Powderly, MD, Lora Iannotti, PhD, Peter Benson, PhD, Barbara Schaal, PhD, Patricia Wolff, MD, and Emre Toker. Dr. Lora Iannotti, faculty adviser for the GHCC, presented the closing remarks, and GHSAC adviser, Dr. Jacaranda van Rheenen, presented the awards. Nicholas Vryhof (Medicine) and Kate Simpson (Arts and Sciences) won first prize, taking home $750, and second prize of $250 was awarded to Jeanette Gehrig (Department of Biology and Biological Sciences), Jiachen Deng (Architecture), Fatima Alvi (Medicine), and Carmen Lyon (Arts and Sciences). Photos from the GHCC are on our Facebook page. 

The feedback from attendees was extremely positive with many suggesting that these events should be held more often. With talks ranging from food and nutrition to antibiotics, attendees marveled at the scope of the offering and the experts we had assembled. This week’s events successfully increased the global health bandwidth on campus engaging WU students, staff, and faculty. Building on the success of 2017, we look forward to planning next year’s GHW.