Dean's Letter - March 2019

Weill Cornell Medicine is a global institution with many partnerships in New York and around the world.  Through a variety of programs and initiatives, it extends its mission to care, discover, and teach on an international scale.  Students, trainees, and faculty foster positive change by exchanging knowledge and skills across cultures and by helping to build capacity in emerging and resource-poor countries. 

Last year, 51 medical students at WCM had international experiences, including two who pursued yearlong research projects.  New partnerships were established with the University of Zaragoza in Spain, Yonsei University in South Korea, the National University of Singapore, and the National Taiwan University Medical School, expanding the options for study abroad.  Many WCM students also pursued interests in global health through course electives, a career seminar series, and journal club.  Through the Office of Global Health Education, a total of 155 international medical students completed clinical rotations at WCM, enriching their learning experiences with a stint in New York.

Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar has trained 335 doctors to date.  Many have done residencies in the US, and an increasing number are returning to their homelands in the Gulf, becoming faculty members at our location in Qatar, and raising the quality of care in the region.

The Center for Global Health engages many members of our community interested in addressing issues of global health inequality.  Its major initiatives in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, and India are celebrating milestone achievements this academic year:

  • Located in the Lake Victoria region of western Tanzania, the Weill Bugando School of Medicine has been affiliated with Weill Cornell Medicine since its opening in 2003.  Fifty physicians from Weill Cornell Medicine travel to Tanzania each year to teach in two-month blocks.  In November 2018, Weill Bugando graduated its 1000th MD, an enormous accomplishment in a country that has one of the lowest ratios of physicians to patients in the world.
  • Weill Cornell Medicine faculty at the GHESKIO clinic in Haiti identified the first cases of AIDS in a developing country in the early 1980s.  By implementing new prevention and treatment strategies, they helped to lower the prevalence of HIV in the Haitian general population to below 2% and to place 70% of people with HIV on life-saving antiretroviral therapy.  Cardiovascular disease is now the leading cause of mortality among Haitian adults.  The Weill Cornell Medicine/GHESKIO team recently received an award from the National Institutes of Health to establish the first longitudinal cohort in Haiti to assess the prevalence and incidence of cardiovascular disease and associated risk factors.  This study will allow GHESKIO to respond to Haiti’s most pressing healthcare needs and to remain at the forefront of research and disease prevention and treatment.
  • 2019 marks the 55th year of collaborative research and training between Weill Cornell Medicine and the Federal University of Bahia.  More than 600 physician-scientists and trainees have participated in exchange programs between the US and Brazil, with efforts focused on the major endemic tropical diseases in Brazil, including schistosomiasis, leprosy, typhoid fever, Chagas disease, and leptospirosis.
  • 2019 is also the 10th anniversary of Weill Cornell Medicine’s partnership with the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Medical College in Pune, India, one of the top medical colleges in the country.  Weill Cornell Medicine faculty seek to improve maternal-child health in Pune and are studying conditions that can develop during pregnancy, such as tuberculosis, depression, diabetes, and mosquito-borne illness, in order to optimize prevention, screening, and treatment strategies.

Another important milestone was reached by the Salzburg Weill Cornell Seminars, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018.  During weeklong seminars in a range of medical specialties, faculty members share the latest medical advances with physicians practicing in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the former Soviet Union, and other countries in transition.  Nearly 22,000 doctors have been trained in 666 seminars during the first 25 years of the program, which now involves several other academic institutions in the US and Austria.  Plans are to export the seminar model to Central America and other locations.

These programs represent just a sampling of the many collaborations taking place between Weill Cornell Medicine and physicians and scientists in North America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.  Faculty members across departments are doing so much to improve health around the world through research projects, outreach missions, international conferences, exchanges, and other initiatives.  I thank all of you for your commitment to advancing medicine, science, and healthcare both locally and globally.  Together we are making impactful contributions that will define our world and the health of populations to come.

Sincerely,

Augustine M.K. Choi, MD

Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean
Weill Cornel Medicine
Provost for Medical Affairs
Cornell University