Frontiers of Innovation Fellows to Showcase Research Addressing Global Challenges at Symposium

November 25, 2015

After a study abroad trip to Tanzania as an undergraduate, Julie Bergmann knew that she wanted to pursue a career in public health. Now a doctoral candidate in global health at UC San Diego, Bergmann is conducting research in Uganda to assess health care barriers for HIV-exposed infants. Bergmann is part of the inaugural UC San Diego Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program cohort and will present her research at the first annual FISP Symposium on Friday, Nov. 20. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Julie Bergmann, MHS, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Global Public Health. She holds a master’s degree in International Health Systems from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Her research interest is in maternal and child health in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on developing practical and effective ways to address the needs of the vulnerable populations.

In a research project in Kenya, she is examining the couple-level obstacles, particularly in the male perspective, to the use of female contraception. Family planning is the most effective way to eliminate HIV-related maternal deaths and prevent mothers from transmitting HIV to their children.

Global Public Health Division Video Wins 2nd Prize in Video Challenge Competition for UC Global Health Day

A video made by doctoral candidate Jaime Arredondo and other members of the Division of Global Public Health has won second prize in the Video Challenge Competition for UC Global Health Day.

The video, “The Forgotten: Clinica del Bordo,” takes viewers to the San Diego-Tijuana border, where Arredondo and many other members of the global public health division provide wound care, HIV testing and other basic health services to people who live in the Tijuana River Canal.

Canal Wound Clinic, or Clinica del Bordo, is an outreach effort of UC San Diego’s NIDA-funded Proyecto el Cuete IV program, Impact of Drug Policy Reform on the HIV Risk Environment Among IDUs in Tijuana.

“This brief video embodies our division’s philosophy of integrating research, training and service to improve the health of our border community,” said Division of Global Public Health chief Steffanie Strathdee, PhD.

“I am very proud that our work is upheld by our students, as they are our next generation of health providers and prevention scientists.”

Dr. Strathdee is Harold Simon Professor, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences; Chief, Division of Global Public Health and Director of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative.

Jaime Arredondo is an AIDS International Training and Research (AITRP) fellow.

The video is here:

Herpes Infected Humans Before They Were Human

The virus originated in chimpanzees, jumping into humans 1.6 million years ago

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified the evolutionary origins of human herpes simplex virus (HSV) -1 and -2, reporting that the former infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago while the latter jumped from ancient chimpanzees to ancestors of modern humans – Homo erectus – approximately 1.6 million years ago. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center

In Memoriam: Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD

Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD

Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD

The Department of Medicine celebrates the life and mourns the passing on August 6 of Harold J. Simon, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of medicine and inaugural chief of the Division of International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine, now the Division of Global Public Health.

An influential leader in the field of international health and health policy, Simon was a founding father of the UCSD School of Medicine. He was recruited to the school in 1966 and served as its first dean of admissions, education and student affairs.

He wove global health training into the curriculum, designing community-based and international programs for students. Among these were courses in Spanish and cross-cultural issues that were the first of their kind in the nation.

Nationally and internationally, Simon advanced global health training and cultural awareness in medicine. His many achievements included the establishment of the Division of International Health for the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. With particular concern for small, isolated countries, he advised developing nations as they established medical education and health care delivery systems.

In 2001, the Harold J. Simon Chair In International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine was established in his honor at UCSD.

Quoted in a UCSD press release at that time, Simon said, “I think it is necessary for all students to realize that there are significant differences in disease incidence and prevalence, in the way health care is delivered, and how concepts of health and illness are viewed by diverse cultures throughout the world. Medicine doesn’t recognize any geographic or national borders.

“In a world where the inequalities of health are grotesque; where for many millions of people health is absent throughout life; where nevertheless every individual has the right to the enjoyment of health, are we as doctors content to leave things as they are?”

Dr. Steffanie StrathdeeThe Harold J. Simon Chair In International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine is now held by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health.

Quoted in a La Jolla Patch memorial story about Simon last week, Strathdee said, “He will be remembered by our division as its founder and tireless mentor, and by his students the world over as their inspiration to a career in global health.

“For me personally,” she said, “I have lost a treasured friend.”

More Information:

Press release: UCSD Chair in International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine Named For Harold J. Simon, M.D., Ph.D. UCSD School of Medicine News, Health Sciences Communications press release, February 8, 2001.  |  Read the story

Video interview: Harold Simon, Founding Father at UC San Diego School of Medicine. UCSD Medical Center video posted February 2, 2012. |  Watch video

Interview: Dr. Harold Simon of La Jolla reviews his legacy in medicine at UCSD. La Jolla Light interview posted on February 28, 2012.  |  Read interview

Memorial story: Harold Simon, Founding Member of UCSD School of Medicine, Dies at 85. La Jolla Patch story, posted on August 15, 2013.  |  Read story

Memorial story: First Dean of Admissions at UCSD’s School of Medicine. San Diego Union-Tribune, posted August 18, 2013.  |  Read story

Progress: the UC San Diego – Universidade Eduardo Mondlane Medical Education Partnership Initiative

In this official video, Dr. Emilia Noormahomed describes the goals and progress of the UC San Diego—Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) program in Mozambique.

Map of Africa showing location of MozambiqueEmilia Noormahomed, MD, PhD, is UEM principal investigator of the MEPI project, which is intended to strengthen Mozambique’s medical education system by building infrastructure to support medical training, research and technology.

Noormahomed is associate professor in the Parasitology Section, Department of Microbiology, at UEM and associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego.

In their partnership, UEM receives the bulk of the grant funding and UC San Diego provides partners and mentors to help UEM meet its goals.  |  More about UC San Diego’s role

The UC San Diego Internal Medicine Residency Training Program offers a global medicine elective in which residents rotate to the UEM’s Maputo Central Hospital in Mozambique for a four-week period.  |  More about the elective

MEPI is a joint initiative of the United States National Institutes of Health and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

More Information:

Internal Medicine Residency Training Program

Medical Education Partnership Initiative

No Sons Linked to Lower Contraception Use in Nepal

While poverty and under-education continue to dampen contraception use in Nepal, exacerbating the country’s efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality rates, researchers say another, more surprising factor may be more intractable: Deeply held cultural preferences for sons over daughters. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Anita RajFirst author Anita Raj, PhD, is a professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health and a Senior Fellow in the UC San Diego Center on Global Justice.

She focuses her global public health research on sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence and substance misuse and abuse.

Funds from the Lucile and David Packard Foundation’s Population and Reproductive Health program support Dr. Raj’s study, Assessment of Girl Child Marriage and Adolescent Motherhood and Its Public Health Impact in South Asia.

The coauthors of the Nepal study report are three Division of Global Public Health colleagues: medical student Rohan J. Vilms, postdoctoral researcher Lotus McDougal and professor Jay G. Silverman, PhD.

Raj and Silverman are faculty members and Lotus McDougal is a graduate of the Global Health track of the UC San Diego – San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health.

Vilms is a second-year medical student who had the opportunity to take part in the Nepal study via a summer internship supported by UC San Diego’s National Institutes of Health Short-Term Research Training Grant for medical students.

His undergraduate degree is from the Global Health and Development track of the Human Biology program at Stanford University.

Rohan J. Vilms

Medical student Rohan J. Vilms

Vilms was born in the United States and spent his childhood years from age 3 to age 12 in India. Living in the two nations shaped his perceptions of disparities in standard of living and health outcomes because of social circumstances, he said.

He has particular concern for reproductive health.

“I think working for reproductive health is extremely important,” he said. “The standard of what we can do is not what we are doing. There are preventable deaths — infant and maternal mortality. That these still occur is a travesty.”

The Nepal project also attracted him because it gave him a chance to work with data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), a respected source of information from United States-conducted fieldwork around the world. The DHS database includes reproductive health information.

In working with the DHS data, he said, postdoctoral researcher Lotus McDougal gave him invaluable coaching and expert help.

Vilms makes the most of every opportunity to work and study in global public health. “I have had a lot of mentors,” he said. “I’m learning a lot.”

He has taken Dr. Richard Garfein’s San Quintin Field Course (FPM 244/MED248) three times, the maximum possible in the first two years of medical school.

Dr. Richard Garfein

Dr. Richard Garfein, professor in the Division of Global Public Health.

The San Quintin Field Course is associated with project VIIDAI: Viaje Interinstitucional de Integracion, Docente, Asistencia y de Investigacion (Retreat for Educational Integration, Assistance and Investigation), first conducted by Tijuana’s Universidad Autonoma de Baja California School of Medicine in 1981.

UCSD’s San Quintin Field Course is a School of Medicine elective built around VIIDAI’s academic and research field trips to rural regions in Baja California and Sonora. Students have the opportunity for hands-on clinical experience as well as public health research and practice. The course includes a required 3-day trip to the town of San Quintin on the west coast of Baja California.

Vilms hopes to arrange a global public health research year between his third and fourth years of medical school. Beyond that, his aspiration is to work in a setting where he can make a difference in health and in social justice.

In February, he presented data from the Nepal study as lead author of a poster presentation at the multidisciplinary Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) annual meeting in Washington, DC.

He said he couldn’t speak highly enough about the Global Public Health division faculty members and graduate students he has worked with.

Of Vilms and his contributions, Anita Raj said, “He worked incredibly hard and did a terrific job.”

More About Dr. Raj and Her Work

Earlier this month, Raj and Ulrike Boehmer, PhD, of the Boston University School of Public Health reported that rates of maternal and infant mortality are significantly higher in nations in which it is common for girls to be married before the age of 18.  |  Read the UCSD press release

At UC San Diego’s International Women’s Day event March 8, 2013, Raj spoke on “The Movement to End Rape Post-Delhi – Public Health Perspectives and Solutions.”

She was an online panelist on Public Radio International’s program The World February 25. The topic: whether there is a global movement for women’s safety in the wake of the Delhi rape protests.  |  Watch the video

In May 2012, Raj and her colleagues published a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the results of two decades of efforts to eliminate the practice of girl-child marriage in South Asia.  |  Read the UCSD press release  |  Read the report

Anita Raj is also affiliated with the Section of General Internal Medicine, Clinical Addiction Research and Education in the Department of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center.

Citation for the Nepal study report:  Anita Raj, Rohan J. Vilms, Lotus McDougal, Jay G. Silverman. Association between having no sons and using no contraception among a nationally representative sample of young wives in Nepal. International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics – May 2013 (Vol. 121, Issue 2, Pages 162-165, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2012.12.011)  |  Read article abstract

Dr. Victoria Ojeda Receives UCGHI Junior Faculty Fellowship Award

Dr. Victoria OjedaVictoria Ojeda, MPH, PhD, public health researcher and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Global Public Health, has received a Junior Faculty Fellowship Program award for 2013-2014 from the University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI).

The UCGHI Junior Faculty Fellowship Program, funded by a private donor, supports global health investigators in focused, multidisciplinary projects to develop their skills in investigation, training and leadership.

The award will support Ojeda’s ongoing work with deportees in Tijuana, Baja California, funding her project, “Tijuana Business Attitudes Toward Deportees and the Acceptability of an Employment Opportunities Program.”

Ojeda’s related Tijuana study, “Social incorporation following deportation and implications for health status and access to care,” is supported by a UCGHI GloCal Health Fellowship award she received in 2012. The GloCal Fellowship, a one-year mentored research fellowship, is a program of the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center and a UCGHI consortium.

Ojeda focuses her research on substance use, HIV/AIDS infection, and mental health co-morbidities in migrant populations, including injection drug users and female sex workers. Through a number of studies in Tijuana and elsewhere, she is examining how patterns of population movement, including migration and deportation, affect the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne infections in the United States-Mexico border region.

Ojeda earned her MPH and PhD in Community Health Sciences at the School of Public Health at UCLA and completed a NIMH Post-doctoral fellowship in Mental Health Policy at the Department of Health Care Policy at the Harvard Medical School.

She is principal investigator of a five-year, NIDA-funded K01 career development project Mexican Female Migration, Substance Use, Sex work, and HIV Risks in Tijuana (Mujer Migrante). She is a research associate of the UCSD Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and a faculty member in the UCSD-SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Global Public Health.

More Information:

Bringing Power of Prevention, Diagnosis to the People

“A Mercedes Benz isn’t designed to function in the Sahara Desert,” notes Dr. Eliah Aronoff-Spencer of the University of California, San Diego. “So why are we designing medical equipment for developing countries the same way we do for developed ones?”

It’s a question researchers at the new Distributed Health Laboratory in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UC San Diego aim to address, and eventually, to render moot. In collaboration with the UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, Mozambique, Calit2’s DH Lab is designing low-cost medical devices such as microscopes and wireless sensing devices that can be used by virtually anyone anywhere in the world to prevent and even diagnose illness. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Co-directing the Distributed Health Laboratory is Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, MD, PhD, fellow in infectious diseases at UCSD and informatics coordinator for the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) between UC San Diego and Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, Mozambique.

Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, MD, PhD with Dr. Manuel TomasThe photo at left shows Dr. Aronoff-Spencer with UEM physician Dr. Manuel Tomás (at right) on a patient ward at Maputo Central Hospital.

Dr. Aronoff-Spencer is also an organizer of the Biomedical Research Informatics for Global Health Training (BRIGHT) program, an international collaboration devoted to training the next generation of informatics researchers in partner countries.

The BRIGHT program, a Division of Biomedical Informatics project, is funded by grant D43TW007015 from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health.

A graduate of the UCSD Internal Medicine Residency Program and Physician-Scientist Training Pathway, Dr. Aronoff-Spencer has completed a fellowship in clinical infectious disease and is now a fellow in research in infectious disease, global health informatics and decision making at UCSD. He is also a staff physician in infectious disease at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

More information:

Girl Child Marriages Decline In South Asia, But Only Among Youngest

Findings mixed in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Each year, more than 10 million girls under the age of 18 marry, usually under force of local tradition and social custom. Almost half of these compulsory marriages occur in South Asia. A new study suggests that more than two decades of effort to eliminate the practice has produced mixed results…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Anita Raj, PhD
About the investigators:

Their report is published in a special Global Health issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.  |  Read the report

Article citation: JAMA. 2012;307(19):2027-2029. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.3497.

NIH Funds UCGHI GloCal Health Fellowship to Train Next Generation of Global Health Researchers

The University of California Global Health Institute (UCGHI) announces the UCGHI GloCal Health Fellowship funded by the Fogarty International Center (FIC) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide global health research training opportunities for 9-12 fellows annually for the next five years. Co-led by Drs. Steffanie Strathdee (UC San Diego) and Craig Cohen (UCSF), this program will contribute to the development of future global health researchers at the University of California and international partner institutions …… Read the full story from the University of California Global Health Institute


Dr. Steffanie Strathdee
Co-directing the UCGHI GloCal Health Fellowship program is Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the UC San Diego Division of Global Public Health; Director, UC San Diego Global Health Initiative.

More Information: