MPower Sponsors CUGH 2023 Global Health Conference

CUGH attendees storm the stage to take selfies with special guest Dr. Anthony Fauci. (Photo: CUGH)

CUGH attendees storm the stage to take selfies with special guest Dr. Anthony Fauci (Photo: CUGH)

By Ashley DeMaio

University of Maryland’s Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State co-sponsored the 14th annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) conference: “Global Health at a Crossroads: Equity, Climate Change, and Microbial Threats” in Washington, DC last month. Held in-person for the first time since 2019, the conference took place from April 14 through April 16.

Over the course of those three days, University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) faculty, staff, students were among 1,600 participants from around the globe.

“It is through funding from the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State that UMB and UMCP are jointly one of the host institutions of this conference,” said University of Maryland School of Public Health Dean Boris Lushniak, MD, MPH, who greeted attendees with opening remarks. “MPower connects the world-class strengths of both universities to address critical issues facing the world.”

Arguably the most charismatic speaker on the conference welcoming committee, Dr. Lushniak’s passion for public health service was on full display for attendees on Day 1. Chanting “Go CUGH, go YOU,” Lushniak energized the crowd of researchers and practitioners, reflecting on UMB and UMCP’s individual and joint accomplishments and the potential to partner to make transformative global impact.

“We’re taking on the grand challenges of the 21st century like the food, energy, and water nexus and we are constantly looking forward,” said Lushniak. “We are even discussing the potential of establishing a global health undergraduate major (at UMCP), which brings me a lot of excitement as dean, and it is why the University of Maryland is proud to be a cohost of this meeting.”

University of Maryland School of Public Health Dean Boris Lushniak welcomes the 2023 CUGH conference crowd. (Photo: CUGH)

A plenary session entitled “Transforming Partnerships with the National Public Health Institutes for Sustained Global Health Implementation and Research, was organized and moderated by Manhattan Charurat, PhD, MHS, Professor of Medicine, Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention, and Director of the Center of International Health, Education, and Biosecurity (Ciheb) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute of Human Virology (IHV).

Dr. Charurat was joined by the directors of the Centers for Disease Control in Nigeria and Malawi, who shared the importance of researchers working with local public health experts to ensure excellent outcomes and equal access to the fruits of research. 

In addition, Alash’le Abimku, PhD, Professor of Medicine at the IHV and Executive Director of the International Research Center of Excellence at the Institute of Human Virology-Nigeria, addressed the critical roles National Public Health Institutes play in setting health-policy and decision making.

Professor of Medicine at IHV Alash’le Abimku discusses what lies ahead for national public health institutes. (Photo: CUGH)

The conference’s best kept secret was unveiled Friday afternoon when Dr. Anthony Fauci surprised the unsuspecting CUGH crowd, sharing tips to guide future pandemic preparedness and response strategies. The former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease eagerly posed for stage selfies with awestruck attendees following the presentation.

Roger J. Ward, EdD, JD, MSL, MPA, Provost and Executive Vice President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Dean of the University of Maryland Graduate School, reflected on the University’s presence at CUGH: “It’s incredible to see the combined global health assets and notable strengths of Baltimore and College Park so prominently showcased at the world’s largest global health conference. The MPower sponsorship demonstrates our joint commitment to the advancement of global health through interdisciplinary research, education, and community partnerships.”

Virginia Rowthorn, JD, LLM, Assistant Vice President for Global Engagement at UMB and Executive Director of the UMB Center for Global Engagement represented the University of Maryland as Chair of the CUGH Membership Committee for the 6th year in a row. A champion of legal and ethical issues in global health, Rowthorn served alongside board members from Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Makerere University College of Health Sciences in Uganda, and the Association of Academic Health Centers International. Rowthorn will continue to serve on the Special Committee for Bidirectional Learning Opportunities.