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Dec. 5, 2014

International health: A multidisciplinary effort

Reza Nassiri, director of the Institute of International Health and associate dean of Global Health, has traveled to more than 150 countries in 33 years.

The Institute of International Health is a forum used to assist MSU faculty and students with health development projects across the globe. The institute also offers training programs for foreign medical students and foreign doctors who are interested in learning about the United States’ healthcare system.

Nassiri, who is also a professor of clinical pharmacology and lecturer in global health, infectious diseases and tropical medicine, said that global health has several dimensions.

“For global health issues of the 21st century, medicine alone cannot be effective,” Nassiri said. “It requires a team of multidisciplinary experts to go after an issue and solve the issue.”

The major objective of the Institute of International Health is to solve global health issues whether they are Ebola, respiratory infections, food security, water security and more, Nassiri said.

“The institute has close collaborations with many colleges here and my approach has been to collaborate with non-health colleges in addition to health colleges to come up with multidisciplinary solutions,” Nassiri said. “Our goal is to solve any problem, whether it is health or health-related, especially in resource-limited countries.”

Nassiri said his primary teaching takes place during the five different study abroad courses he instructs.

“For many students, it’s eye-opening, but for me, it is a great honor if I could make a small difference in the lives of our students,” Nassiri said.

Lyman Briggs senior Sonam Sethi travelled to Mexico in March for one of Nassiri’s study abroad programs.

“We got to see a very holistic view of medicine because we not only got to see the practical side, but the public health side as well,” Sethi said.

Sethi also said that during her study abroad experience she and the other students learned about the Mayan culture, diseases in the Yucatan Peninsula, viewed a maternity clinic, watched a live childbirth and visited an HIV clinic.

After the study abroad program was over, Sethi wanted to keep working with Nassiri. Sethi became a student health intern for the Institute of International Health in June.

“I’ve learned that you should always be ambitious and strive for more,” Sethi said. “Dr. Nassiri has made it clear that there is more to this world and there is more to strive for and more to look forward to and we can all do something to help out.”

Nassiri’s goal at MSU is to gain participation of faculty and students to work as a team to make a difference in global health issues and make a measurable impact.

By: Katie Stiefel