Myron S. Cohen, MD, Director, Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases
Greetings colleagues, students, and friends! Starting with this issue of the UNC Global Newsletter, I will be writing a short column focused on global health news at UNC.In this inaugural report I wish to talk a bit about the history of global health activities at Carolina and tell you about a prestigious award given to Angela Kashuba, Associate Professor of Pharmacy at UNC.
UNC is one of a very small number of American universities with a school for each of the health sciences—medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and public health. Even more distinctive is the fact that all of the schools are adjacent or facing one another and share one of the best libraries in the United States. This physical proximity is critical for fostering the collaboration and synergy this university is known for. Our health schools are excellent, rated among the best in US News and World Report’s annual rankings.
The university has made globalization one of its highest priorities, and the FedEx Global Education Center is a physical manifestation of this commitment. Last year the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases was established to help the health sciences schools complement the globalization efforts of the main campus. Health affairs faculty are already working successfully in more than 50 countries in a wide variety of research, education and service capacities. These activities involve dentists and nurses, public health workers and physicians, and every kind of student imaginable.
Because UNC is so active in global health, not a day goes by that a school, department, faculty member, or student isn’t being recognized with some kind of honor, be it a large research grant, new medical discovery, or prestigious award. To give just a single example, last month Dr. Angela Kashuba was awarded the 2009 Leon I. Goldberg Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. This award honors a young scientist for his or her outstanding accomplishments in the field of clinical pharmacology.
Why did Dr. Kashuba receive this honor? Her research group studies the pharmacology of antiretroviral drugs (AIDS-fighting agents) in male and female genital secretions. These agents have the potential to stop the spread of HIV by interfering with the acquisition of the virus by someone receiving therapy before exposure (pre-exposure prophylaxis) or by suppressing the virus in someone already infected. Dr. Kashuba’s work has emphasized the differences between drugs, and her research findings will help direct the best HIV prevention “cocktail.” Furthermore, her work provides us with some clues as to how we might develop new drugs with an even greater public health benefit. More than 2.5 million people per year acquire HIV, most of them in resource-constrained countries. We do not have an AIDS vaccine, and unfortunately we are unlikely to have a preventive vaccine in the foreseeable future. Dr. Kashuba’s research on antiviral agents is considered one of the most promising HIV prevention strategies on the horizon.
This is truly a distinguished honor for Dr. Kashuba, and I’m sure I speak for the entire UNC community when I say that we are proud have her on our faculty.