“In the last several years, there has been unprecedented recognition of the enormous toll to global health, prosperity and stability from the three major diseases of poverty -AIDS, TB and malaria.”
- The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development
“Global Infectious Disease” can be defined in different ways. In general, all definitions list important new and “re emerging” infectious diseases that were once unknown or thought to be waning, along with recognition that drug resistance, hygiene, economic and environmental factors have promoted both reemergence and horrendously increased mortality. “Global Health” more broadly includes non infectious diseases (e.g. heart disease, obesity, diabetes) that are becoming epidemic worldwide due to a variety of factors, some of which are connected to those that promote increased mortality from Global Infectious Disease (GID). Regardless of the specific definition or catch phrases that are used, there is rapidly growing worldwide recognition that science and astute public policy based on historical experience, international law and ethics must intersect more effectively if we are to find solutions to the myriad of problems caused by these diseases. Although the human cost of Global Infectious Disease should be more than enough to motivate even the most hardened of individuals to do more, it is now also obvious that the rippling effect on the global economy and worldwide political stability threatens all human kind and at all levels. Better integrating emerging infectious disease science concepts into political and social problem solving is a serious challenge that must be met. Of equal importance is the growing appreciation that infectious disease scientists must become more “policy literate” if they are to contribute more effectively. Also, basic vs. applied medical science is frequently practiced in different environments; these need to be integrated as well if society is to efficiently tackle the myriad of problems related to Global Infectious Disease.
At most Universities, such hybridization and synergy is difficult if not impossible to attain. At Georgetown, in our laboratories, seminar rooms and faculty offices, such things are already a natural consequence of our excellence in all relevant scholarly categories, our collegiality, our idealism and sense of mission, and the enviable physical proximity of the relevant departments and campuses. Can we pass what we know and what we are learning at the cutting edge onto students at the graduate level? Will these students be true professional leaders in the Georgetown tradition, fully prepared for the Global challenges ahead at the intersection of policy and science? The answer is not “yes, we could if we wished”, the answer is “we must do this”. With relatively little additional work, a proper classroom, laboratory, and mentoring environment can indeed be created.
In addition, the plethora of unique internships and collaborations with government, foundation, and professional society offices in the DC area further strengthen our ability to connect science and policy applications to classroom theory and scholarship.
If our generation does not meet the challenge of Global Infectious Disease head on, the world will fall into shadow. To meet this challenge effectively requires professionals with the requisite interdisciplinary knowledge and skills. Our Global community desperately needs additional creative interdisciplinary training that is currently in short supply. As a leading Global University in one of the great capitals of the world, Georgetown has both an obligation and a uniquely potent opportunity to develop and support additional such training at all levels