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VCU Global Health Symposium on Sept. 9 focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion worldwide

Developed by students and open to the public, the fourth annual event features international keynote speakers, panel on implicit bias and more.

The fourth annual Global Health Symposium will be held Sept. 9 at the McGlothlin Medical Education Center. (Tom Kojcsich, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)
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Three international health leaders will highlight Virginia Commonwealth University’s Global Health Symposium on Saturday, Sept. 9, which is themed “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Global Era.”

The VCU School of Medicine’s ACCESS Program and the Global Education Office are co-sponsoring the fourth annual event, scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the McGlothlin Medical Education Center, 1201 E. Marshall St., and via Zoom for international attendees. The student-led symposium will showcase informational activities to engage students – from undergraduates to those in nursing, dental, physical therapy and medical programs – as well as physicians and members of the public eager to learn about global health.

“The ACCESS symposium is one of the most important activities that our students with an interest in global health organize and participate in,” said Edgar Rodas, M.D., director of the VCU Program for Global Surgery. “It displays their ability to bring together five disciplines with interesting topics discussed by globally recognized leaders, including VCU faculty, fellows, residents and students.”

This year’s symposium is highlighted by three keynote speakers: Tamara Fitzgerald, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at Duke University’s School of Medicine; Edgar M. Kalimba, M.D., senior consultant pediatrician and pulmonologist at King Faisal Hospital in Rwanda; and Matthew Glucksberg, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering and co-director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health Technologies at Northwestern University.

The symposium also will feature a panel of health specialists who will discuss implicit bias in international health care. (For biographies of speakers and panelists, visit 2023 Symposium Speakers.) The schedule also includes speaker sessions from top faculty, clinicians and global health officials; workshops providing critical skills for global health involvement; abstract submissions and poster presentations; and a networking lunch for attendees.

Jill Blondin, Ph.D., VCU’s associate vice provost of global initiatives, cited the symposium’s value in raising visibility of a crucial topic.

“This is exactly the kind of event, with the focus on global health, that we should be supporting,” she said. “I am incredibly impressed by the students’ dedication and hard work in bringing this conference to fruition as well as the message about the importance of global health.”

Rodas noted that its student planners gain experience beyond the classroom while strengthening their commitment, and VCU’s, to international affairs.

“It is the culmination of a year’s preparation where they learn additional organizational and leadership skills to become true global citizens and global health leaders, placing VCU at the forefront of innovation in education,” he said.

All proceeds from the symposium will be used for future ACCESS Program events and initiatives. The event is free for students outside the U.S.; costs for other attendees are as follows:

U.S. and VCU students: $5

International professionals: $10

U.S. residents: $15

U.S. professionals: $30

Registration is open until Friday, Sept. 8. Questions can be directed to vcu.access.symposium@gmail.com.