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P&S Journal

P&S Journal: Winter 1998, Vol.18, No.1
P & S News
P&S Thinks Globally

By Kristen Watson

Human rights and refugee problems in Uganda and Zimbabwe, earthquake relief in Armenia, and research in Israel: It all seems worlds away, but it's actually part of the P&S learning experience. P&S not only exists within the confines of the 168th Street campus; its faculty and students are spread throughout the world.

This increasingly central role of the university in international collaborative clinical and research programs has led to the opening of a new office to help students and faculty who seek adventure and to help those who are less fortunate while learning in the process. Dr. Edgar M. Housepian, professor emeritus of clinical neurological surgery, brought his neurosurgery career to a halt on Dec. 31, 1996, and switched gears to manage international affiliations for P&S as the vice president and dean's special adviser for international affiliations. Dr. Housepian plans to build a database of all P&S faculty and student involvement in international activities. He will collect information on government, foundation, and private funding sources for international programs and distinguished student and faculty exchanges with overseas institutions, eventually making this information available in a publication and on a web site that can be searched.

Dr. Housepian says his office will manage existing international involvement and interest and engage in negotiations and investigations of new programs. A faculty survey in 1997 showed extensive P&S activity in all regions of the world--from central and eastern Europe to the Balkans and Caucuses; the Middle East; a number of African states, including Mali and Uganda; the Far East, including Japan, Burma, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Marshal Islands; Central America; South America; and the Caribbean, including Guatemala, Honduras, Dominica, and Venezuela.

In addition to creating and maintaining a database of international affiliations, Dr. Housepian has discussed negotiations about telemedicine ventures, which one day may allow Columbia courses to be shared regionally and globally. He also has organized meetings for visiting foreign dignitaries. He is a member of the International Medical Task Force, a joint effort between CPMC and Cornell-New York Hospital to establish a program that would care for patients referred from overseas by arranging for travel and accommodations and setting up appointments with New York specialists.

P&S faculty are affiliated with programs at universities around the world. For example, Dr. Richard Deckelbaum, director of the Institute of Human Nutrition at P&S, is associated with a number of programs in the Middle East and China, including a new program with the Center for International Health and Nutrition at Ben-Gurion University that leads to an M.D./M.P.H. degree in international health.

A variety of international research programs are supported by alumni. Clyde Wu'56 was instrumental in formalizing relationships with Peking Union Medical College, Shanghai, and Hong Kong universities. P&S recently signed an agreement with Hong Kong University Medical College, committing the two institutions to a three-year trial collaboration that includes faculty and student exchanges.

According to Dr. Housepian, some P&S faculty and students dare to venture into "places in the world you'd be afraid to go to." Dr. Sheila Rothman organizes an international exchange program for fourth-year medical students interested in human rights and refugee problems. Ten to 15 students are selected from about 45 requesting this program in their fourth year. To be selected, students must have taken a third-year 16-hour elective in human rights and been involved in community activities during their years at P&S. These students have traveled to Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Thai-Burmese border and enjoyed hands-on clinical experience under local supervision.

A number of student exchange programs exist, including programs with St. Bartšs in London, the University of Paris, the American Hospital in Paris, and, most recently, with Kao University in Japan.

This is just a small sample of the collegešs international affiliations."Columbia is a global university," says Dr. Housepian, making it a small world after all.

copyright ©, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center

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