Dear DGH students,

Welcome to the 2016-2017 academic year! Whether you are a new or returning student, we are delighted and honored you have chosen to work with us in pursing your careers in global health. This is a very exciting time in global health both here at UW and throughout the world.

You are entering an incredibly dynamic field in which you can address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Globally, we have seen substantial progress on major infectious diseases like HIV, malaria, and TB, and notable improvements in maternal and child health. Although this is an unfinished agenda with much more for us to do, these changes are part of the reason that chronic diseases are now the leading causes of death and disability worldwide.

There is also growing recognition that truly global factors like climate change and other kinds of global environmental change, are among the most important forces shaping health in the 21st century. Our faculty are working with partners in more than 130 countries around the world and right here in Seattle on these challenges – as well as others. This means that there are great opportunities for you to learn about these problems and help develop solutions.

Global health is also a field in which it is particularly critical to understand and address fundamental social and political factors, including international issues such as the burgeoning refugee crisis, and national issues such as racism, both of which highlight our need to increase diversity and create a more inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff at all levels at UW. This is a high priority for us in DGH, and I am pleased that over the summer we have been able to make progress in a number of ways. Two ways in which we have made progress focus on increasing student diversity – one through the department providing support for four Research Assistantships for graduate students with strong academic records from diverse backgrounds, and the other through the gift of an anonymous donor to establish an Endowed Fellowship for Global Health Excellence, Equity and Impact. This fellowship will provide financial support to graduate students who demonstrate academic merit and the first preference for selection is for diverse candidates.

This year, we welcome 56 graduate students to our department in our three degree programs, 16 post-bachelor fellows to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and a large cohort of undergraduate minor students, and medical students, residents and fellows to our certificate programs.

Our new students bring a wonderful diversity of backgrounds – across disciplines, experiences, interests and geography, as well as other dimensions. For example, our new graduate students come from eight different countries, and join a talented group of returning students from 10 additional countries. As incoming and returning students you are now not only part of your individual masters, doctoral or certificate program, but also part of a larger family in the Department of Global Health, one of the leading and largest academic global health programs in the world. There are a wealth of opportunities provided by students, staff and faculty in other programs, and I hope you will take advantage of this remarkable global health “ecosystem” by getting to know people across our department’s Centers, Programs and Initiatives, as well as at some of our partner institutions here in Seattle.

This year we will celebrate our 10th anniversary as a Department, with festivities scheduled for early 2017, including a special event with global health leaders from around the world. This is a wonderful chance for us to not only take stock of our accomplishments, but also to define our priorities for the next 10 years, and determine what we can do even better. I look forward to sharing more about this in the coming months.

And finally, please know that my door is open. If you are in one of our MPH or PhD programs we will have a chance to talk at regularly scheduled group meetings. In addition, if you want to talk with me individually or if you are not in a degree program, I would be happy to meet. Please just let me know or contact Aleta Elliott, my assistant ( Your input matters and it helps me do my job better.

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this new academic year – I hope you know we are thrilled to learn with you and from you.

With best regards,

Judith N. Wasserheit, MD, MPH
William H. Foege Chair
Department of Global Health