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Notre Dame, IU partner on graduate program

Carolyn Hutyra | Friday, January 25, 2013

The Eck Institute for Global Health and the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) have paired up to offer IUSM students the opportunity to earn a joint Medical Doctor/Master of Science in Global Health (M.D./M.S.) degree beginning this fall.

Director of the Eck Institute David Severson said officials from IU initially proposed the program to Notre Dame’s administrators.

“We felt it was a great opportunity to increase our interactions with other Indiana universities and to expand the scope of our M.S. [in Global Health] program at the same time,” Severson said.

Joseph Bock, director of global health training at the Eck Institute, said the program aims to give people the tools to increase global equity in access to healthcare.

Indiana University’s interest in global health took root years ago in a research-based program in Eldoret, Kenya known as AMPATH, Bock said. Indiana University students travel overseas every year to study under a professor who conducts research on health challenges in Kenya.

“Because of AMPATH, they are getting an increased number of students applying who are interested in global health,” Bock said. “Indiana University is interested in making its global health portfolio robust. Certainly they have already done that with AMPATH. This [dual degree program] is another way they are doing that.”

Acceptance into the dual degree program is separate from acceptance to IUSM, Bock said, and IUSM students will compete with other applicants for spots. Those accepted will take a year of absence to enroll in the M.D./M.S. program and receive their Masters in Global Health from Notre Dame.

The year-long program takes place over two semesters and a summer, according to a University press release. Students will complete 30 credit hours, a research project and a six- to eight-week international field experience.

Bock said the current Master of Science in Global Health program sends students around the world to countries including India, Tanzania, Malaysia, Ecuador and Haiti. Students have partnered with organizations such as the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania.

“We are open to students coming in and suggesting places they want to go,” Bock said.

Upon completing their international field experience, the future dual degree students will return to any Indiana University campus to complete their third and fourth years of medical training. 

Bock said the dual degree program will allow students to take courses that pertain to their specialized interests but also require skill-oriented, core classes. One core class will ensure students can use geographic information system data in a mathematical model.

“The students who take the epidemiology class, which will be required next year, will need to be able to do that,” Bock said.

Severson said he would love for Notre Dame eventually to establish a school of public health. 

“The Eck Institute for Global Health will continue to seek to recruit and establish expertise in the areas [bio-statistics, immunology, and epidemiology] with an eye toward building a framework that a school could be established around,” he said.

Bock said Notre Dame wants to inspire students to help people who cannot pay for even inexpensive medicines.

“It’s a crime against humanity that you have people out there with tuberculosis who can’t take the medicine for the six to nine months simply because they can’t afford it,” he said.

Severson said students want to impact the global community.

“I think many students today … see an opportunity to incorporate this interest in global health in their career goals,” he said.