Madhavi Dandu, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, was named the director of the UC Global Health Institute, or UCGHI.
The UCGHI is a UC-wide initiative that encourages global health research, education and collaboration to advance the university’s global health agenda, according to a press release from the UC Office of the President, or UCOP. The institute has been furthering global health research and initiatives for the past 13 years, and recently joined with UCOP as an institute in the UC Health Division Office.
“Global health specifically — in our mind — is broadly defined, so it doesn’t mean international health or domestic health,” Dandu said. “So health with the concepts at the core of health equity, health justice, access to resources and an equitable health system.”
Dandu said that UCGHI is about leveraging the work and knowledge across the 10 campuses to think about everything from healthcare to structural determinants of health. These determinants include everything that either promotes healthy states or prevents individuals from being healthy in the first place such as food security, environment and economics.
In addition to the people who research and work for the institute, the UCGHI also has centers and different opportunities available to learners, faculty and staff across all UCs, Dandu said. Some of the centers’ focuses include planetary health, gender health and justice and workforce equity.
“I think it’s important when you look at the institute if you’re interested to really see the breadth of opportunities there are to participate, even if you are not officially part of the center, so just for learners, staff, and faculty across all the UCs, there’s tons of ways to get involved,” Dandu said.
As director, Dandu commented on how she sees her role as “threefold.” She works to amplify the research and work of individuals in the institute and makes sure it is accessible and promoted to the public; she also coordinates collaboration of researchers across campus.
In addition, she also plays a role in reenvisioning the goals and future work of the institute, which involves examining who is included in conversations around global health. Dandu noted her role in launching a strategic planning process, which includes examining who the institute engages with in their work.
“One of the big questions that we have been or will be asking ourselves other than ‘who are we’ is ‘who have we included and excluded in our work and conversations’ and ‘how do we bring other voices in to make sure that we are not only responding to people’s needs but valuing the assets of all of these different voices,’ ” Dandu said.