A Letter from the Associate Dean

Huda M. Ayas, Ed.D., M.B.A., M.H.S.A.
September 15, 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

Season’s greetings and happy new year from the Office of International Medicine Programs (IMP) at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS)! As we begin a new year, we invite you to join us as we reflect on several of our major accomplishments in 2016 and the exciting initiatives we are looking forward to in the coming years.  

Since IMP was founded in 1994, more than 12,000 GW and international faculty, staff, residents, scholars, fellows, students, and health care professionals have benefited from our partnerships, affiliations, and education programs in over 60 countries. We are so proud of the contributions our partners, students, alumni, and faculty have made to improve the health of our local, national, and global communities.

This past year has been one of growth and partnership. As you’ll read in this newsletter, IMP is increasing our emphasis on international research. In June, we sponsored our first-ever Scientific Summit in Thailand, where we partnered with Khon Kaen University (KKU) to convene researchers from both institutions for three days of intensive scientific discussions and training. The Summit was a great success, due in large part to GW’s long-standing relationship with KKU. As a result of this Summit, we deepened the GW-KKU relationship and opened additional opportunities for collaboration in the areas of chronic infectious diseases, bioinformatics, bio banking, and research capacity building.

Following this successful model, IMP partnered with the SMHS Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine to organize our second Scientific Summit, this time focused specifically on addressing the growing threat of Zika virus. Together with the Instituto Butantan and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, in November we organized a productive two-day Scientific Summit during which researchers from across GW and Brazil shared the latest developments and future research plans on a range of topics, such as diagnostic tools, clinical aspects of Zika, host-virus interactions, immune responses, animal models, and vaccines. We expect that the relationships formed and knowledge shared during this Summit will lead to joint research activities and accelerate the progress that GW and our Brazilian colleagues are already making toward addressing Zika virus and related health issues.

In addition to expanding our efforts to advance joint international research, IMP continued to serve our educational mission. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 37 SMHS students benefited from scholarship funding to participate in clinical rotations and medical missions. In November, IMP launched the Leonard C. Akman, M.D. ’43, Global Medicine Scholarship Program, which will provide scholarships to GW medical students to participate in global medicine and health activities for years to come.

Our Medical Research Fellowship Program (MRFP) had a flagship year in 2016 with 87 percent of the 2015-2016 cohort matching into competitive residency programs across the U.S. and Canada. Compared with an average match rate of 51.9 percent for international medical graduates, according to the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the 2016 match rate for IMP’s Medical Research Fellows demonstrates the quality of this program and the remarkable commitment of our mentors, staff, and, of course, the fellows. Now in our fifth year of MRFP, we are excited to see alumni of this program continue to move through successful residency programs into prestigious fellowship positions.

IMP continues to engage with our alumni around the world, both virtually and face to face. We have a LinkedIn group for alumni (contact impinfo@gwu.edu to join) and send this eNewsletter to stay connected. Our team also hosts meetings with alumni when we travel to hear more about their accomplishments and provide a forum for networking.

All of our success would not be possible without my hardworking team. This year, we welcomed three full-time staff members to the IMP family: Rachael Fellabaum, program manager and international liaison; Shereen Toubaji, program manager for international residency and fellowship programs; and Kara Woodman, senior education specialist. We were also joined by two graduate student assistants, Nilakshi Biswas and Mara Ohorodnik. Meet our team here.

The accomplishments of our programs, partners, and participants are more than just statistics. We hope this newsletter will give you a glimpse into some of the international activities supported by IMP, as well as those initiated independently by members of the SMHS community.

We have some exciting initiatives planned for 2017, including increasing our emphasis on international research partnerships, additional scholarships for GW students, and building relationships with institutions in Spain. Learn more about what IMP is up to and stay connected by liking our newly launched Facebook page!


Huda M. Ayas, Ed.D., M.B.A., M.H.S.A.

Associate Dean for International Medicine