Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Eleven Years of Global Impact: The Global Health Initiative at Northwestern

On September 26, more than 310—the largest group in the event’s history—gathered for the 11th Annual Global Health Initiative (GHI) Benefit Dinner. Thanks to much excitement and anticipation for the new Institute for Global Health at Northwestern, the event raised more than $1 million.

“In the beginning, the goals of the GHI were simple,” said Robert J. Havey, MD, founder of the GHI and clinical professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. “Over the past 11 years, those goals have become more ambitious, our experience broader, and we understand with greater clarity the challenges and opportunities before us.”

Dr. Havey is leading an effort to create a new Institute for Global Health at Northwestern. The institute will expand the University’s role as a preeminent research and education innovator in global health, delivering unprecedented interdisciplinary approaches to addressing global health challenges. Its collaborative work will be dedicated to vulnerable patient populations and reducing health disparities, improving healthcare quality, and strengthening health systems.

“Global health is all about collaboration,” said Bill Kurtis, renowned anchor and the event’s emcee. In addition to his role at the benefit dinner each year, Mr. Kurtis and his wife, Donna LaPietra, give of their time and talents to produce an annual video to highlight the impactful work of those supported by the GHI.

Click here to watch the 2018 GHI Fund Impact video.

The Institute for Global Health will encompass 10 centers for global health research and education in disease-specific areas that intersect, ehealth, and interdisciplinary innovation. At the benefit dinner, two Northwestern faculty members spoke about two of those planned centers: the Center for Global Rehabilitation and the Center for Global Surgery.

The mission of the Center for Global Rehabilitation is to create a more inclusive world for disabled individuals through improved access to healthcare, enhanced medical interventions to prevent disability, and advanced training and education in physical medicine and rehabilitation worldwide. By combining the strength of Northwestern faculty in physical therapy, orthopedics, neurology, geriatrics, trauma, and occupational therapy, the center will set a course to relieve pain and disability, and enhance life around the globe.

Dr. Eric Neilson, Lewis Landsberg Dean and vice president of Medical Affairs, with Dr. Robert Havey.

 “I am excited at the prospect of a center devoted to global rehabilitation, which will have a tremendous impact on vulnerable populations,” said Victoria Brander, MD, clinical associate professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “Every person has the right to dignity, happiness, and quality of healthcare.”

The goal of the Center for Global Surgery is to effectively reduce the global burden of access to surgery by applying innovative models for trauma intervention and surgical relief where resources are most lacking. The center will promote research and clinical partnerships between faculty and global peers in low-resource communities, and will actively engage with relevant University programs, as wells as philanthropic and governmental stakeholder organizations.

“The Center for Global Surgery will help to produce a future generation of Northwestern-educated leaders with the requisite interest, compassion, and skills to help solve problems related to surgical access around the world,” said Nathaniel J. Soper, MD, Loyal and Edith Davis Professor and chair of the Department of Surgery. “The Institute for Global Health will be a force of good for many years to come, and I am proud to be involved with it.”

Event attendees also heard from Northwestern student Pamela Wax, who received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern with a minor in global health, and who is now pursuing her medical degree (MD) and master of business administration (MBA) simultaneously.

“I hope to make an impact in the structural challenges facing our healthcare system today,” said Ms. Wax. “By wearing all three hats as a global health minor, a clinician, and a businesswoman, I am better able to understand the global picture and the efforts that will be needed to make a real difference. I am grateful for the support of the GHI because it enables people like me to do just this.”

Click here to learn more about the Institute for Global Health.

Make a gift to support Global Health.

“In the beginning, the goals of the GHI were simple. Over the past 11 years, those goals have become more ambitious, our experience broader, and we understand with greater clarity the challenges and opportunities before us.”

- Dr. Robert Havey