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By Kristin Burns on May 7, 2020

Veterinary and medical students find inspiration, hope and leadership lessons at UC conference celebrating 10 years of the UC Global Health Institute

By Jennie Lane, Kristin Burns, Annica Stull-Lane and Cara Newberry

On May 2, students, young career professionals, researchers, partners and leaders in global health gathered online from around the world for  UC Global Health Day.

“COVID-19: Global Perspectives on a Global Pandemic” served as the theme of the UC-systemwide conference, held over Zoom and on Facebook Live. Attendees heard expert updates on the pandemic, explored gender and socioeconomic disparities and were offered a blueprint for hope from scientists on the front lines of pandemic prevention and response. 

Slide from the virtual poster session
A virtual poster from the Disease track. (courtesy Cara Newberry)

In addition, UC Global Health Day highlighted UC student research with a virtual poster session. More than 71 students across all 10 UC campuses participated across nine tracks including One Health, diseases, planetary health, health policy, and women’s health, gender and empowerment.

The conference celebrated the 10th anniversary of the UC Global Health Institute (UCGHI),  a UC-wide initiative that promotes global health research, education, and collaboration to advance health in California and worldwide. A video tribute honored Dr. Haile Debas, the Institute’s founding director. His vision for UCGHI served as an inspiring reminder to all of us working in global health to have optimism, resilience and passion.

Student Takeaways

Two students participating in UC Global Health Day, one in veterinary medicine and one in human health, also felt the optimism and spirit of collaboration embodied by the UCGHI and presenters. They offered their perspectives on the day:

Woman vaccinating a chicken being held by a man
Medical and doctoral student Annica Stull-Lane vaccinates a chicken while participating in the Rx One Health summer training program in Tanzania. (courtesy)

Annica Stull-Lane 
MD/PhD student in the Physician Scientist Training program at the UC Davis School of Medicine 

UC Global Health Day was inspiring and hopeful during this global crisis. As a trainee, it's motivating to see such incredible leadership at the faculty level to build collaborative networks spanning academia, industry and government partners. It was inspiring to hear that, as students, we can also be involved in building a network of leaders for today and tomorrow. Globally, we are all interdependent on each other and must have a team approach to the pandemic.

Cara Newberry
Veterinary student, DVM Class of 2022 at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Poster Presenter, Disease Track: Characterization of Antimicrobial Resistant Escherichia coli in Chickens in Iringa, Tanzania

I particularly enjoyed the hope and optimism the speakers showed about the ongoing collaborative work on COVID-19. I was excited to learn that at least six vaccines are already in clinical trials, and that the Global Virome Project will be continuing to research and discover new viral threats worldwide. 

Three students around a mosquito trap
Veterinary student Cara Newberry (left) and fellow Rx One Health participants learn how to set mosquito traps as part of mosquito surveillance activities. (courtesy)

One speaker joked about how few people probably knew what an R0 was before 2020 (R0 is short for reproduction number, indicating how contagious an infectious disease is), which just goes to show how interest in and support of science is hopefully growing. With these scientific advancements and collaborations in mind, the speakers highlighted how we can and will reach the end of the Pandemic Era.

Another topic I enjoyed hearing about was the importance of good leadership. Across countries, it’s clear that strong leadership has fostered trust and compliance, at a time when both are critical. For example, one country exemplified good leadership with the use of simple and clear slogans such as “first life, then livelihood.” Additionally, it was interesting to learn how different countries are affected by the current pandemic, and this conference provided us insight to their situation and strategies for response. 

Lastly, faculty and speakers gave advice to students and future leaders. One important note was to understand how interdependent our planet is and to take steps—such as tuning into UCGHI’s virtual event—to broaden our worldview and consider how connected yet different our situations are. Overall, the UCGHI virtual event was not only a valuable educational experience, but also a positive way to connect with our worldwide scientific community.  

Final Thoughts

While we weren’t able to see everyone in person this year at UC Santa Cruz as originally planned, the virtual event provided a platform for global participation. UC Global Health Day's keynote speaker, One Health Institute Executive Director Dr. Jonna Mazet, outlined key steps necessary to ensure future pandemics like this never happen again, saying: “We can, and must, redefine that national and global health paradigm to include emerging infectious diseases while simultaneously building robust, interconnected, and resilient public health response systems. Together, we can build a healthier, more prepared global community.” A fitting call to action for our UCGHI community now, and in the future.

Watch UC Global Health Day now: