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Department of International Health

Research and Practice

The Department of International Health has led the way, for more than half a century, in developing and testing means to improve health and deliver cost-effective services. As part of our mission to serve vulnerable and disadvantaged populations across the world, we are committed to helping communities build and utilize local capacity.

We are involved in a wide range of public health research. The Department's research brochure gives a broad overview of our research activities. It also highlights many of the health topics that faculty study and the types of research approaches they use.

Areas of Focus

The Department of International Health is committed to helping the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people improve their health and well-being. We focus on diseases, disabilities, malnutrition, and the social, economic, biological, and environmental conditions that affect communities around the world. We have six areas of focus:

The Department of International Health puts a strong emphasis on the following on six areas:

Primary health care and universal health coverage.

Recognizing how central primary health care is to the universal health coverage agenda as well as tackling non communicable diseases, we will reinforce our strengths in this area, and consider a new center for primary health care and universal health coverage.

Nutrition and food systems.

We will build further strength in our work on diet, nutrition, and food systems, and reenergize the Global Obesity Prevention Center. Furthermore, we will ensure that our capacity in nutrition and food systems is linked effectively to research on NCDs across the Department.

Maternal and child health.

We will expand our capacity to include adolescent health (an important but hitherto-neglected area), as well as research on health across the life course, including, for example, how early life nutrition problems affect health later in life, and epigenetic switches that set populations on trajectories to poor health.

Vaccine sciences.

We will reinforce existing capacities to cement our reputation for preeminence in this field, working across the spectrum of vaccine development, trials, policy support, and implementation and scale-up of new vaccines.

Climate change and health.

We will leverage partnerships within and beyond our School to measure and mitigate the effects of climate change on health. This work will build upon existing departmental strengths including:

  • our strengths in infectious disease research to understand how climate change affects infectious diseases; and our expertise in policy analysis, health economics, and implementation science to pursue policy solutions;
  • capacity within the Center for Humanitarian Health to address issues around forced migration and disasters related to climate change; and
  • our existing nutritional expertise to explore the impact of environmental insult on food production, diets, and nutrition.

We will strengthen collaborations with colleagues across the School (especially in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, and the Center for Health Security) and across the University (such as in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and the School of Advanced International Studies), as well as reinforcing links with overseas partners that provide complementary expertise on this topic.

Health technologies.

The Department, as well as the broader mHealth network across the University, has a strong reputation in digital health. We will transform our capacity in health technologies to take advantage of new opportunities including for digital health and point-of-care diagnostics, the use of big data and real-time data for research, and the application of digital solutions to the worldwide problem of obesity and other chronic diseases. We will also explore opportunities to strengthen capacity in people-centered design, the innovation environment and integration of new technologies into health systems, the use of technology for public health communication, and ethical issues related to the adoption of and access to new technologies.

Centers and Research Groups

The Department is home to a number of centers and research groups that allow faculty from the Department, the University and the world to collaborate directly on specific global health issues. You can learn more about their work by visiting the websites listed below.