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Building Global Health Through a Center-Without-Walls: The Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health

Vermund, Sten H. MD, PhD; Sahasrabuddhe, Vikrant V. MBBS, DrPH; Khedkar, Sheetal MBBS, MSPH; Jia, Yujiang MD, DrPH; Etherington, Carol MSN, RN; Vergara, Alfredo MPH, PhD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318160b76c
Global Health Initiatives

The Institute for Global Health at Vanderbilt enables the expansion and coordination of global health research, service, and training, reflecting the university’s commitment to improve health services and outcomes in resource-limited settings. Global health encompasses both prevention via public health and treatment via medical care, all nested within a broader community-development context. This has fostered university-wide collaborations to address education, business/economics, engineering, nursing, and language training, among others. The institute is a natural facilitator for team building and has been especially helpful in organizing institutional responses to global health solicitations from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other funding agencies. This center-without-walls philosophy nurtures noncompetitive partnerships among and within departments and schools. With extramural support from the NIH and from endowment and developmental investments from the school of medicine, the institute funds new pilot projects to nurture global educational and research exchanges related to health and development. Vanderbilt’s newest programs are a CDC-supported HIV/AIDS service initiative in Africa and an overseas research training program for health science graduate students and clinical fellows. New opportunities are available for Vanderbilt students, staff, and faculty to work abroad in partnership with international health projects through a number of Tennessee institutions now networked with the institute. A center-without-walls may be a model for institutions contemplating strategic investments to better organize service and teaching opportunities abroad, and to achieve greater successes in leveraging extramural support for overseas and domestic work focused on tropical medicine and global health.

Author Information

Dr. Vermund is Amos Christie Chair in Global Health, director, Institute for Global Health, and professor, Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Sahasrabuddhe is assistant professor, Pediatrics, and director, Vanderbilt–India Cervical Cancer Program, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Khedkar was senior research assistant, Institute for Global Health, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, when this article was written.

Dr. Jia is research assistant professor, Pediatrics, and director, Vanderbilt–China HIV Program, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Ms. Etherington is assistant professor, Nursing, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Nashville, Tennessee, and was previously president, USA Board of Doctors Without Borders.

Dr. Vergara is deputy director, Institute for Global Health, assistant professor, Preventive Medicine, and director, Vanderbilt–Mozambique HIV/AIDS Program, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Vermund, Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, 2215 Garland Avenue, 319 Light Hall, Nashville, TN 37323-0242; telephone: (615) 322-9374; fax: (615) 322-9400; e-mail: (

© 2008 Association of American Medical Colleges