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Scientific Summit in Thailand

Over the past two decades, the Office of International Medicine Programs (IMP) has built relationships with a diverse group of students, practitioners, leaders, researchers from around the world who are all committed to improving the health of their communities. IMP has excelled in facilitating medical education and training at home and abroad, extending opportunities to more than 12,000 individuals to advance their careers and address health priorities.

IMP has begun to leverage these international networks in order to expand research opportunities for SMHS and partners, enhance access to knowledge and data, and improve global health outcomes. IMP made strides to broaden its international reach this summer through a joint scientific summit held at Khon Kaen University (KKU) in Thailand.

Faculty members from GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) and IMP participated in the three-day event in June 2016. The relationship between SMHS and KKU goes back more than a decade, with the organizations partnering on grants to study liver fluke-induced cancer in Thailand, participating in clinical student exchange, and publishing more than 30 manuscripts.

With this scientific summit, the relationship between the universities only grew stronger. That success is paving the way for IMP to achieve a new goal of fostering global research collaborations, particularly in Thailand, Spain, and Brazil, where IMP also recently held a summit on the Zika virus.

“We’re striving to connect our researchers here in Washington with international institutions and grow collaborations overseas,” said Huda Ayas, Ed.D. ’06, M.B.A. ’98, M.H.S.A. ’93, associate dean for international medicine and executive director of IMP. “We are looking to expand these efforts, and we believe the success of the Khon Kaen summit demonstrates how beneficial such partnerships can be for GW, SMHS, and the international medical community at large.”

As part of the summit in Khon Kaen, which ran from June 27 to 29, GW and KKU researchers gave presentations on topics such as cancer and health disparities, cancer and cancer therapy, HIV, and tropical infectious diseases, among others. In addition, SMHS faculty offered training on regulated research practices, and attendees discussed priorities for the collaboration, including on ways to support joint research and training.

GW participants at the summit in Khon Kaen included: Ayas; Douglas Nixon, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine (MITM) and Walter G. Ross Professor of Basic Science Research at SMHS; Edward Seto, Ph.D., associate center director for basic sciences at the GW Cancer Center and professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at SMHS; Jeffrey Bethony, M.D., professor of MITM and vice chair for translational research at SMHS; Norman Lee, Ph.D., associate director of basic and translational research and professor of pharmacology and physiology at SMHS; Sylvia Silver, D.A., professor of MITM and director of the GW biorepository; David Diemert, M.D., associate professor of MITM; Brad Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of MITM; and Rachael Fellabaum, program manager and international liaison at IMP.

IMP’s international research initiative supports the SMHS mission and vision to improve the health of our local, national, and global communities by advancing biomedical, translational, and health services delivery research with an emphasis on multidisciplinary collaboration. “Scientific summits provide a tremendous opportunity for mutual learning with short and long-term benefits to the summit participants and institutions,” says Ayas. “We recognize that international research partnerships take time, but are confident that these summits serve as springboard for research collaborations between GW and our partners.”