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News @ ODU

Director for New Global Health Center Joins University

When she arrived at Old Dominion University 18 months ago, Shelley Mishoe, dean of the College of Health Sciences, had a vision of pulling together multidisciplinary faculty and community expertise into a Center for Global Health.

The center is envisioned as a leveraging of the unique strengths of the Hampton Roads communities in education, research and outreach to collaborate in improving the health and well-being of citizens.

But in order to launch the center, and tap into the expertise in the community and on campus in a coordinated way, the college needed to find the right director. Mishoe said Barbara Greenberg is just that person.

"The task force and the search committee knew we needed a senior-level person - someone who had the public health background and genuine, firsthand experience of global health, someone who could see opportunities and had done novel things themselves in their career, that they could take all of these assets and launch this center. And we found that in Dr. Greenberg," Mishoe said.

Greenberg, who started at ODU Sept. 25, is excited about the challenge of launching the Center for Global Health.

"In this day, to be able to start something, it takes a huge commitment," Greenberg said. "In the short time she's been here, for Dr. Mishoe to be able to get the commitment of the university to start a global health center, is fabulous. So I saw this as a unique opportunity that doesn't come along very often, the opportunity to start something new and take advantage of the diverse expertise at ODU, as well as enhance the strong community relationship and partnerships that Dr. Mishoe has begun to develop."

Greenberg comes to ODU from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She has also worked in a variety of U.S.-based and international settings on public health issues, including diabetes, infectious disease, women's health, HIV and heart disease.

She said the unique aspect to ODU's Center for Global Health is that its expertise isn't limited to a particular issue.

"If you look at other centers of global health, they're often oriented to a different disease or problem," Greenberg said. "So this will be a unique center in that its goal is not to address just obesity, or diabetes, but to have an interdisciplinary approach that would say, 'What's the best creative team you would put together' to address the identified problem."

Among the goals of the Center for Global Health are to create interprofessional global health experiences for faculty and students, prepare students to assume leadership roles in global health, and facilitate an opportunity for students to learn about global perspectives, to help them gain global health competency.

It's also planned that the center will grow to influence health policy and practice, inform policymakers and advocate change through its collaborative research and outreach efforts.

Mishoe said ODU is uniquely positioned to create a dynamic global health research and education hub because of the expertise that already exists on campus and in the community, and through the growing tradition of collaboration being fostered at the university.

"I think it's the right fit at the right time," Mishoe said. "In the community already, there are so many organizations that work with ODU to impact health and quality of life in Hampton Roads and around the world. Capturing that under an umbrella is really going to bring the right kind of visibility along with even more opportunity."

A voluntary survey found that more than 65 ODU faculty members have expertise in global health issues, or an eagerness to use their expertise to expand global health initiatives, Mishoe said.

Greenberg envisions the center, which will hire another full-time faculty member in the coming months, creating a roadmap for how to develop interdisciplinary teams - stretching far beyond the traditional bounds of public health - to accomplish common global health goals. She said the fact that so many partnerships already exist between ODU and community organizations further puts the university in a unique position to create an inclusive, interdisciplinary, knowledge-driven Center for Global Health.