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Global Health Symposium making global impact

Only two years after its arrival, CGU’s School of Community and Global Health (SCGH) has already established a tradition that puts it at the forefront of the global health movement. Its annual Global Health Symposium is attracting interested stakeholders from around the region and the world, which is essential for the implementation of innovative technologies that are being developed for health promotion, research, and education.

This year’s conference, held in May 2010, was titled “Global Challenges for the 21st Century: The Epidemic of Chronic Disease From East to West.” The symposium focused on the pandemic of non-communicable chronic diseases – such as those caused by obesity, smoking, and unhealthy environments – and innovative solutions to their prevention and control. Discussing the scope of the problem and nature of prevention and control was keynote speaker Liming Lee, vice president of Chinese Academy of Medical Science/Peking Union Medical College.

“There are so many dimensions to this conference, it’s hard to characterize,” said SCGH Dean Andy Johnson. “But what we’re trying to find are ways to use new, emerging technologies that will connect people at all levels – people who generate knowledge, people who practice in the field, people who have the potential for distribution – through commercial and other means to do what we think of as part of the new public health.”

As demonstrated at the symposium, the new public health is all about new technologies. One common theme was the promise of telemedicine, discussed by several participants, such as keynote speaker William Ruh, vice president of the Systems Technology Group for Cisco Systems, Inc.; Dr. Mario Molina, an MD as well as president and founder of Molina Healthcare, Inc.; and CGU Associate Professor Tom Horan, who through his Kay Center for E-Health Research has helped develop the HealthATM, a machine that uses electronic health records to allow patients to better manage their health concerns.

Many members of the SCGH faculty also presented on their current research projects. Professor Kim Reynolds discussed his work exploring the influence of the built environment on physical activity and obesity. Assistant Professor Jerry Grenard presented on how new technology can measure cue-induced eating among adolescents. Additionally, SCGH Media and Technology Specialist James Pike and SCGH students presented on enhanced learning environments and technology in the classroom, respectively.

One of the reasons why the symposium is so important is that no individual can implement new technology in isolation. “What we’re trying to do takes integration across a number of systems: people with the communications technology, people with the communications systems, people who are public-health practitioners and public-health educators,” said Johnson. “The public sector, private sector, and the academy have to work together. We’re looking at ways to try to do this.”

Spurned on by the success of their first two symposiums, planning is already well underway for the Third Annual Global Health Symposium. With the assistance of Pomona College Professor Deborah Burke, who also runs the school’s Cognitive & Aging Lab, the symposium is scheduled to take place on that school’s campus and will likely use innovative technology to simulcast the proceedings around the world.

Videos of the entire conference are available online through CGU’s iTunes University page (just search “Claremont Graduate University” in your iTunes search bar).

 
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