A new Office of Global Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will serve as a resource for international education, service and research opportunities for UAMS employees and students.
Don Simpson, Ph.D., M.P.H., chair of the Department of Laboratory Sciences in the UAMS College of Health Related Professions, was named director of the new office. Simpson is a veteran of medical mission trips to Haiti and academic development efforts in Africa and Saudi Arabia.
As director, his duties will include coordination of service efforts by UAMS employees and students in developing countries; helping develop educational exchanges for UAMS and foreign students; and assisting researchers in making contacts for studying health problems affecting the developing world and health care delivery mechanisms for underserved areas.
Creation of the Office of Global Health fits with the UAMS mission to undertake activities that improve health and health care. Supporting service efforts abroad may lead to improvements in health care in Arkansas; promotes the importance and rewards of service; and serves as a recruitment tool for students and faculty, said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.
“UAMS has a long reputation for involvement in global health efforts, whether it is a faculty member volunteering time for a medical mission after a natural disaster or a student taking advantage of a service opportunity abroad to enhance his or her education,” Rahn said. “Establishing this office formalizes the university’s commitment to ensure these efforts are effective and to define our strengths in the area of global health.”
The Office of Global Health will bring together work being done already across UAMS. It will assist with development of educational programs related to global health and fostering relationships with other universities or organizations that could lead to faculty exchanges or collaborations.
The office will assist those wanting to participate in international programs in finding safe and appropriate educational locations, obtaining funding and insurance, and dealing with other issues that may arise. The office will report to Jeanne Heard, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for academic affairs.
“UAMS did not previously have a central point of contact or unified effort for those involved in global health initiatives or programs,” Heard said. “This office will give us focus in an area of health that has seen increased interest recently among health care institutions, professionals and students across the nation.”