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         —On the Frontiers of Research

Spotlight on Four New Faculty Members

Robert Blum, MD, MPH, PhD

Robert Blum, MD, MPH, PhD

 Robert Blum, MD, MPH, PhD

Chair, Department of Population and Family Health Sciences
Previous Positions: Director, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health; Director,  WHO’s Collaborating Center in Adolescent Health, both at the University of Minnesota
Interests: adolescent sexuality, chronic illness, international adolescent health care issues
Topping His Agenda: Setting “a clear vision for what family health sciences should be over the next 10 to 15 years, both for the School and the nation.” Understanding the interactions of biological, social, environmental, and behavioral components that influence health is key, Blum explains. “Having crafted a coherent vision, we can look at what we should be taking a lead role in. We have a basis for building the next generation of work.”
Favorite Part of the Job: “I love teaching and mentoring students and junior faculty.” 

Sir George Alleyne, MD, FRCP, FACP (Hon), (DScHon), OCC

Sir George Alleyne, MD, FRCP, OCC

 Sir George Alleyne, MD, FRCP

Title: Visiting Professor, Department of International Health
Previous Position: Director, Pan American Health Organization
Interests: inequity in health, health and development, gender discrimination
Topping His Agenda: Sharing his experience in running programs on an international scale. Alleyne recalls the push to remove lead from gasoline: “That was a multi-country effort. PAHO provided a lot of background material to help the countries do it. To get it done you have to get the hardware, and you also have to get the countries together to find a common approach.”
Favorite Part of the Job: “When I have an opportunity to interact with students, my endorphin levels rise. I like to engage them, draw them out, and get them to differ with me. I really get a kick out of it.”

Rita R. Colwell, PhD

Rita R. Colwell, PhD

 Rita R. Colwell, PhD

Title: Adjunct Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Previous Position: Director, National Science Foundation
Interests: cholera, infectious disease, waterborne diseases
Topping Her Agenda: Tackling global infectious diseases, especially waterborne diseases such as cholera. Strategy: Taking a holistic approach, rather than just focusing on the pathogen and patient. Pandemics, for example, are affected by climate, adverse weather events, ocean circulation, etc. By examining such factors, researchers can begin to predict the disease. With cholera, she says, “We know from satellite observations that when sea surface temperature increases in the Bay of Bengal, there is an increase in the number of cholera cases.”
Long-Term Goal: “To have an international center on infectious diseases, water, and health to include colleagues working in Sweden, Norway, Japan, India, and Bangladesh.” 

Duff Gillespie, PhD

Duff Gillespie, PhD

 Duff Gillespie, PhD

Title: Senior Scholar, Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health
Previous Positions: Visiting Scholar, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Global Health Bureau, USAID
Interests: family planning, reproductive health, child survival, HIV/AIDS
Topping His Agenda:  Promoting reproductive health and child survival activities and creating a knowledge base to inform health policy and programs. “Contraceptive use among the poorest of the poor is about half of what it is in the upper socio-economic strata,” he notes. “Our information shows they aren’t getting the information they need from NGOs or their governments.” Gillespie’s goal? To translate knowledge into action by making it accessible to policymakers.
Favorite Part of the Job: “In international health you can actually see the impact [you make]. You can watch child mortality go down. You can watch fertility drop.” 
    —Kristi Birch