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Stanford Medicine magazine explores global health challenges

Stanford Medicine’s global efforts to battle some of the world’s most vexing health concerns are reflected in the new issue of Stanford Medicine magazine.

Michele Barry, MD, first began working in Zimbabwe in 1988 to help rebuild a  medical education system that had been decimated by decades of political upheaval and corruption.

"There was a brain drain; many left for South Africa," said Barry, the senior associate dean for global health and the director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health. "But we continued and built relationships that have lasted."

The new issue of Stanford Medicine magazine explores how the kinds of collaborations Barry formed in Zimbabwe continue to drive Stanford Medicine's overall mission of improving health around the globe.

"We share this planet with billions of people, a rich panoply of cultures, languages, beliefs and interests," Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, says in introducing the issue. "Yet amid this diversity, we also share a universal yearning: to enjoy healthy lives."

Stanford Medicine's collective efforts to battle conditions that are central to some of the world's most vexing health concerns -- poverty, pollution, mosquito-borne disease, limited access to care, and a dearth of trained clinicians -- are reflected in many of the stories in the issue:

  • As an adviser in the creation of Zimbabwe's first pediatric ear, nose and throat clinic, a pediatric otolaryngologist saw the dedication of clinicians treating children with dire chronic conditions, without the benefit of modern equipment or facilities.
  • Education partnerships in Zimbabwe and at Stanford provide learning opportunities for both.
  • An epidemiologist explains the challenges of convincing kiln operators to convert to cleaner brick-making technology to reduce deadly air pollution in Bangladesh.
  • An infectious disease expert and her colleagues aim to better understand how mosquitoes and humans interact, in an effort to predict and prevent outbreaks of insect-spread diseases.
  • Barry's comment about the dearth of women in leadership -- to an all-male group of deans speaking at a medical education conference in Nairobi -- became the seed of an international movement to help more women gain the skills, mentors, training and opportunities to be global health leaders.
  • Former World Bank leader Jim Yong Kim, MD, discusses initiatives to end poverty that call for investing in better education and health care for the world's poorest people.
  • A program for medical residents provides a first-hand look at how their individual contributions can help solve global health problems.
  • Two Stanford Biodesign fellows team up to invent a resuscitation device designed for use in India that improves on the technique used to help newborns breathe on their own.

Also, learn about research into why some pain is chronic and agonizing, and how research on mice might provide answers that can help patients. And read about how the chemical interactions that lead to cell death could inspire therapies for such diseases as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Image by Liu Zishan

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