Meharry Medical College Launches Nation’s First School of Global Health

Board of Trustees unanimously approves new school that will create a new generation of health equity leaders dedicated to solving complex global health challenges through multiple disciplines

School of Global Health at Meharry to be shaped by founding board of advisors comprised of renowned experts in clinical care and research, business, communications, mental health, global health, public health and public policy

Meharry Medical College is advancing its work to eliminate global health inequities by establishing the first School of Global Health in the United States. Dr. James Hildreth, president and CEO of Meharry, and Daniel Dawes, JD, DHL, senior vice president and executive director of the Meharry Institute of Global Health Equity, made the announcement on the first day of the American Public Health Association’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta.

The School of Global Health at Meharry will foster collaboration among emerging health leaders, allowing them to strategize beyond conventional boundaries to protect vulnerable, underserved and under-resourced communities around the world. Meharry has begun the process to recruit faculty, engage partners and secure accreditation for the School of Global Health, and anticipates beginning to enroll students in the fall of 2024.

The School is an outgrowth of the Institute of Global Health Equity, which Meharry launched in February of 2023. The Meharry Board of Trustees unanimously approved Meharry establishing the School of Global Health at a meeting in October. Meharry also announced members of the School’s Founding Board of Advisors, which is made up of experts from across industries, including two former surgeon generals of the United States. Members of the Founding Board of Advisors will work together to ensure the School of Global Health is a competitive and innovative institution for future students and entrepreneurs.

“As we establish our School of Global Health we are working diligently to take a multidisciplinary approach and bring together world-class experts, researchers and educators with a shared commitment to make global health inequities history,” said Dawes. “As founding dean, my goal is to actualize, operationalize and optimize equitable solutions and responses to our most complex health issues. And with the support and guidance of this brilliant group of health equity experts and champions on our founding advisory board, we are confident that their expertise will help us achieve new heights.”

The creation of the School of Global Health at Meharry fills an important gap in the global healthcare continuum as it will be taking a new and more holistic approach to global health. Presently, global public health education tends to focus on population-wide interventions. The School of Global Health will take a multidisciplinary and multisectoral approach to health and economic improvement.

“The establishment of our new School of Global Health is a significant addition to our institution’s academic landscape and one that will continue to honor Meharry’s rich legacy,” said Dr. Hildreth. “In the years following the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how health disparities have negatively impacted communities and economies across the globe. Through unique degree opportunities coupled with leadership from a robust founding advisory board, the School of Global Health will become the solution that is needed to solve the most complex and pressing health equity issues our society is facing.”

Meharry has a rich history of addressing complex health challenges around the world for nearly 150 years. As one of only four HBCU academic health science centers in America, Meharry Medical College has been at the forefront of public health decisions both locally and internationally. In October, Meharry announced the Together for Change program which addresses inequities in STEM careers and will begin the process of building the largest African ancestry genomics research database. Additionally, through PEPFAR funding, Meharry is working in several African countries to reduce mother-to-baby HIV transmission rates and promote cross-cultural understanding via exchange programs with universities in low and middle income nations.

“As a former president of Meharry Medical College, it brings me great joy to witness the launch of the School of Global Health, which will be a global health equity pioneer,” said Dr. David Satcher, the 16th U.S. Surgeon General and founding advisory board member. “Under Daniel Dawes’ leadership, I know this school will become a beacon of hope for those who aspire to become health equity leaders and scholars and want to effectuate meaningful change in advancing health equity.”

The Institute for Global Health Equity and its founding advisory board have established four initial areas of focus for Meharry’s School of Global Health:

  • Political determinants of health

  • Mental health

  • Population health

  • Health communications

According to Dawes, these priorities encompass critical root causes of some of the most pressing global inequities facing vulnerable populations around the world.

“Having dedicated my professional life to eliminating barriers and obstacles to health access, and serving as a voice to the voiceless communities in rural America, it is a privilege to collaborate with the accomplished individuals on this board and to play a role in contributing to our shared objectives in supporting and guiding the establishment of the School of Global Health,” said Dr. Regina Benjamin, 18th U.S. Surgeon General and founding advisory board member. “I am committed to approaching this role with diligence and dedication, and I anticipate that our collective efforts will yield significant positive outcomes for our future learners and global community.”

The School of Global Health’s founding advisory board is composed of 30 inaugural members who bring a breadth of knowledge and deep understanding of the complex issues surrounding health equity, healthcare, mental health, health communications and public health. They will guide the formation of the school and ensure all programs, academics and research efforts are at the forefront of the global health equity movement.

“As the first female physician member of congress, my work greatly focused on the intersection of medicine, public health and policy, which very much aligns with the core principles of the Institute of Global Health Equity,” said the Honorable Donna M. Christensen, M.D., former U.S. representative and founding advisory board member. “Meharry’s future School of Global Health is primed to be a center for health equity innovation at a historically black institution that has been a leader in responding to health inequities for over a century and a half. I am thrilled to be a part of something so special that will leave a lasting and meaningful mark on the advancement of the health equity movement.”

Founding Advisory Board Members include:

  • John Auerbach, MBA, senior vice president, ICF International

  • Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., executive director, American Public Health Association

  • Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., MBA, 18th U.S. Surgeon General, 2009-13

  • Joseph R. Betancourt, M.D., MPH, president, The Commonwealth Fund

  • Carlos Castillo-Salgado, M.D., J.D., MPH, DrPH, professor of epidemiology (BSPH/JHU), director, Global Public Health Observatory (BSPH/JHU)

  • Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, president and CEO, de Beaumont Foundation

  • Dan Childs, MA, managing director, head of Global Media Engagement, The Next Solutions Group

  • Donna M. Christensen, M.D., former member, U.S. House of Representatives

  • Kulleni Gebreyes, M.D., MBA, life sciences and healthcare consulting industry leader, U.S. chief health equity officer, Deloitte Consulting, LLP

  • Kim Godwin, president, ABC News

  • Michelle A. Gourdine, M.D., senior vice president, CVS Health and chief medical officer, CVS Caremark

  • J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., MSCE, president and CEO, Trust for America’s Health

  • Garth Graham, M.D., MPH, FACC, director and global head of healthcare and public health, Google/YouTube

  • Darrell Gray II, M.D., MPH, FACG, president and CEO, Wellpoint Maryland

  • Anthony B. Iton, M.D., J.D., MPH, senior vice president, programs and partnerships, The California Endowment

  • Joy A. Lewis, MSW, MPH, senior vice president, health equity strategies; executive director, Institute for Diversity and Health Equity (IFDHE), American Hospital Association

  • Leandris Liburd, Ph.D., MPH, MA, acting director, CDC Office of Health Equity

  • Monica Valdes Lupi, J.D., MPH, managing director – Health Program, The Kresge Foundation

  • Octavio N. Martinez Jr., M.D., MPH, MBA, FAPA, executive director, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

  • Kedar S. Mate, M.D., president and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

  • Margaret Moss, Ph.D., J.D., RN, FAAN, University of Minnesota School of Nursing

  • Kavita Patel, M.D., MS, professor of medicine, Stanford University and director, Biodesign Policy Program

  • Alonzo L. Plough, Ph.D., MPH, MA, VP, research-evaluation-learning and chief science officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

  • Robert Raben, president and founder, The Raben Group

  • Orriel L. Richardson, Esq., MPH, vice president, health equity and policy, Morgan Health, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

  • David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., founding director and senior advisor, Satcher Health Leadership Institute Morehouse School of Medicine, 16th U.S. surgeon general

  • Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D., vice dean for public health practice and community engagement, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Lisa Simpson, MB, BCh, MPH, FAACP, president and CEO, AcademyHealth

  • Lynn C. Todman, Ph.D., MCP, vice president of health equity and community partnerships, Corewell Health

  • Michelle Weese, head, corporate affairs, Novartis

  • David R. Williams, Ph.D., Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

For more information about the Meharry Institute of Global Health Equity and its founding advisory board, visit www.MeharryGlobal.org.

About the Meharry Institute of Global Health Equity

The Institute of Global Health Equity at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, is rooted in Meharry’s nearly 150-year legacy of leading on health equity issues. The Institute is committed to preparing the next generation of global health learners and leaders to find solutions and respond to our communities’ complex and evolving health challenges with a global perspective. A hub for research and academic innovation in global health, mental health, environmental health, health communications, social and political determinants of health and more, the Institute is a trusted resource for health equity approaches and actionable solutions to the inequities affecting our most vulnerable, under-resourced, and marginalized communities. Learn more at MeharryGlobal.org.

About Meharry Medical College

Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically Black academic health sciences center dedicated solely to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church-related institution. The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s ranking of institutions annually lists Meharry as a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences. Visit www.mmc.edu to learn more.