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The Center for Clinical Global Health Education is Born
Bob Bollinger has been quietly frustrated for some time. As a clinician-scientist, he has fought infectious disease in the developing world for 25 years, studying leprosy, AIDS, TB and malaria in regions where poverty, malnutrition and poor health care doom inhabitants to bitterly hard lives and early deaths. “Yet,” he says, “the doctor in me knows that there is a lot more we can do to help these people.”
Until now, most of Bollinger’s effort has come from the research end. He’s done studies on HIV mother-to-child transmission, for example, and on the nature of the immune system in people ill with more than one infection. He also runs the largest collaborative medical research program in India, not to mention one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But, at heart, Bollinger thinks of himself as a clinician. And his unrest stems from a bench-to-bedside problem. In developing countries, the two can be light-years apart. “It’s frustrating to know that all our studies haven’t made a bigger difference in patients’ lives,” he says.
Recently, Bollinger came up with a plan for making this happen: Don’t wait for poorly funded medical systems overseas to put discoveries into play. Do it yourself. Improve the quality of care that patients receive directly from their own health care providers. With that, the Center for Clinical Global Health Education was born.
Under Bollinger’s leadership, the Center has set out to use modern technology like telemedicine and distance learning to bring the expertise of Johns Hopkins faculty—from both laboratory and clinic—to the world’s neediest countries and people.
Studies show that survival rates for diseases like HIV, TB and malaria have a direct tie to the learning and experience of those giving medical care. “Training doctors, nurses and paramedical workers as well as medical and nursing students will improve the health of the people they serve,” Bollinger says. “We can’t bring them all to Johns Hopkins. But we can bring Johns Hopkins to them.”