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Strength Training


A SMALL COUNTRY ROUGHLY THE SIZE OF MISSOURI, Cambodia has had to rebuild its entire intellectual infrastructure in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge era, which included the genocide of the late 1970s and a period of guerilla warfare that didn’t end until the mid-1990s. FSPH’s UCLA/ Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program in Cambodia began in 1997, and has since graduated the first two students with PhDs in the post-Khmer Rouge period, as well as five master’s-degree graduates. These Fielding School alumni, along with others trained by the school both at UCLA and in Cambodia, have contributed significantly to the development of successful HIV/AIDS policies and to the rebuilding of Cambodia’s public health system.

Cambodia, where Drs. Roger Detels and Pamina Gorbach, both FSPH professors of epidemiology, have collaborated continuously with in-country institutions for the last 20 years, is but one of many countries where public health leaders draw on their FSPH education to make an impact in policy and practice. Around the world and in its own backyard, the Fielding School continues to build on its powerful legacy of training, both through the education of students in FSPH degree programs and via other methods, including short-term training programs, seminars, workshops and forums.

Training is a key component of the more than a dozen active memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between the Fielding School and institutions abroad (see page 26). In China alone, the school currently has 10 active MOUs with universities and governmental agencies for collaborative research and training. “We are focused on early-stage professionals, helping to build future leaders who will help to advance public health in China and globally,” says Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang, the Fielding School’s associate dean for research and a professor of epidemiology. Through these MOUs, the school is contributing to training junior faculty members and postdoctoral fellows — both at UCLA, as graduate students and visiting scholars, and in workshops held in China, Zhang says.

SINCE 1988, WITH SUPPORT from the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Institute, the Fielding School has assisted low- and middle-income countries — mostly in Asia — by building the public health leadership capacity of their institutions to control HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases through training, both in country and at UCLA. Over the years, the FSPH program has provided education leading to a master’s or doctoral degree for more than 100 health professionals from low- and middle-income nations, as well as informal training to countless others. Most of the HIV/AIDS prevention and control programs in China and Southeast Asia have been run by UCLA/Fogarty program alumni, according to Detels, founding director of the UCLA/Fogarty-supported training program. Fogarty graduates have also included the dean of the Fudan University School of Public Health in Shanghai, China; the director of China’s Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention; and the director of the Department of Communicable Diseases at the World Health Organization. Two national ministers of health — in Hungary and Taiwan — were UCLA/Fogarty alumni.

“We decided from the beginning that the fieldwork for our trainees’ theses or doctoral dissertations had to be done in their home country, with the idea that we would build the research capacity in our partner institutions,” says Detels. “As a result, much of the research of our trainees has informed HIV/AIDS policy development, and there is now a network of Fogarty graduates in the countries we have worked with who are in regular communication with each other.”

Detels received the 2016 Chinese Government Friendship Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Chinese Central Government for foreign experts who have made significant contributions to China’s economic and social progress. “The Fogarty program run by Dr. Detels has produced an enormous positive impact on the overall HIV/AIDS program in China, particularly with respect to grounding the response to the epidemic in scientific evidence,” says Zunyou Wu (MPH ’92, PhD ’95), who helped establish the HIV/AIDS control program in China after training in the UCLA/Fogarty program, and is currently the chief epidemiologist and director of the Division of HIV Prevention at the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as an FSPH adjunct professor of epidemiology. “Dr. Detels has trained more than 20 PhD and MS students and more than 100 postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars from China. These trainees have gone on to become key players in China’s national HIV program.”

DR. ANNE RIMOIN founded the Fielding School’s UCLA-DRC Health and Research Training Program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2004 and ever since, the FSPH associate professor of epidemiology has collaborated with government and university partners in building the local capacity to conduct epidemiological studies of infectious diseases. The UCLADRC program includes senior Congolese field, laboratory and administrative staff. “Our program gives Congolese the training and skills they need to take control of their own research agenda,” says Rimoin, whose team works closely in these efforts with the National Institute of Biomedical Research and DRC National Reference Laboratory, Kinshasa School of Public Health (with which FSPH signed an MOU in 2015), and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Field Epidemiology Training Program.

Anne Rimoine and Nicole Hoff (PhD '14)with children in Democratic Republic of Congo
FSPH's UCLA-DRC Health and Research Training Program builds capacity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Rimoin’s capacity-building work has extended to the Fielding School, where, with funding from the Faucett Family Foundation, she has brought students to the UCLA-DRC program and trained them for leadership roles. One graduate, Nicole Hoff (PhD ’14), now serves as field director of the UCLA-DRC Health Research and Training Program. FSPH alum D’Andre Spencer (MPH ’17) and Cyrus Sinai, who minored in public health at UCLA, are also part of the team in DRC. Among other things, the UCLA-DRC team has held workshops to teach basic epidemiological data analysis and research grant writing, as well as assisting the Congolese leaders in writing journal articles. “

My FSPH training under Dr. Anne Rimoin taught me how to conduct good research in difficult settings, as well as about leadership,” Hoff says. “We work with locally trained staff and I pass along the methods I have learned. We have the chance to work with the next public health leaders in DRC and improve their skills so that they can train others.”

THE CAMBODIAN GOVERNMENT, with support from Fogarty-supported UCLA training programs and other international partners, was successful in changing the course of its HIV epidemic in the late 1990s and early 2000s through behavioral interventions; despite limited resources, it went on to develop and sustain an impressive HIV testing and treatment program. “Led by a group of young scientists, some of whom were FSPH-trained, Cambodia built a strong surveillance and monitoring system for HIV testing, treatment and care,” Gorbach says. “Now, in our training, we are focused on strengthening that system for other infectious disease outbreaks and research capacity in general.”

As part of the current National Institutes of Health funded program headed by Gorbach, three students from Cambodia are training in FSPH’s Department of Epidemiology: two in the doctoral program (Kennarey Seang and Phirom Toeng) and one in the master’s program (Dyna Khuon). The program has trained seven short-term visiting scholars who came to the school to strengthen their research skills, and has held annual training workshops in Cambodia. “My goal is to create a generation of researchers in Cambodia who understand the value of, and know how to work in, an interdisciplinary environment,” explains Gorbach, who, along with Detels, was bestowed a medal of recognition by Cambodia’s prime minister at the 70th anniversary of the University of Health Sciences. Two individuals who have been instrumental in planning and developing the program are graduates of the UCLA/Fogarty program in Cambodia: Vonthanak Saphonn (PhD ’03, MS ’04), current rector of the University of Health Sciences, which includes Cambodia’s first school of public health (see opposite page); and Chhorvann Chhea (PhD ’09), dean of Cambodia’s public health school and director of the National Institute of Public Health.

THROUGH ITS MPH PROGRAM as well as the Executive MPH Program in Health Policy and Management for working public health professionals, the Fielding School has educated many health care system leaders in Southern California and beyond. No one epitomizes FSPH’s commitment to impact through education, training and mentorship more than Dr. Paul Torrens, professor emeritus of health policy and management, who has taught at the school since 1972.

“California has been a leader in transforming the American health care system for the better part of three decades,” says Thomas Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Health System, who credits Torrens as a mentor and has taught a leadership course in the FSPH executive MPH program, often with Torrens, for many years. “When it comes to transforming the health care system and its related organizations, leadership matters. It is not a coincidence that California’s leadership position coincides with Paul’s career at UCLA. For multiple generations, through his guidance, mentorship and friendship he has instilled the personal values, leadership skills and personal insight so critical to successful leadership. Even more important, in the course of doing so he has made us better people.”

FSPH faculty and students from UCLA/Fogarty Cambodia program
FSPH students and faculty from the UCLA/Fogarty Cambodia program, working on a research study with a team from the national enter on HIV/AIDS, dermatology and STD’s, and community leaders.

Torrens has touched countless lives through his passion for teaching and ability to inspire students who go on to become health care leaders — then, in turn, mentor public health students of their own. In March 2017, a Fielding School series of public programs featuring health leaders discussing and debating issues of the day was renamed The Paul Torrens Health Forum at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in his honor. “From the beginning, our school has felt a particular obligation to public service and this broader purpose, and our students have been committed to serving the community as a whole,” Torrens says. “I’m proud that so many of our graduates have become effective and compassionate leaders in health care. It’s been a very satisfying experience to contribute to shaping these bright and talented individuals.”

FSPH MOUs Advance Training at Home, Abroad

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a formal agreement between two institutions to collaborate on mutually beneficial goals. For the Fielding School, MOUs are a symbol of a collaborative commitment between FSPH and institutions abroad to research, training, and other scholarship opportunities. The Fielding School has active MOUs with institutions around the world, including:

China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Institute of Basic Research in Clinical Medicine

Fudan University School of Public Health, China

Hochschule Neu-Ulm, Germany

Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Tongji Medical College, School of Public Health, China

Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, China

Kinshasa School of Public Health, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kunming Medical University School of Public Health, China

Nanjing Medical University School of Public Health, China

National Institute for Biomedical Research, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Peking University School of Public Health, China

Peking Union Medical College School of Public Health, China

Sun Yat-sen University School of Public Health, China

University of Health Sciences, Cambodia

University of the Philippines

Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, China