Department of Global Health & Emerging DiseasesWhat are Global Health and Emerging Diseases?

Global Health:

  • Global health has been a topic of intense debate over the past several years. According to the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), it is commonly defined as “an area of study, research, and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide.”1
  • For the purposes of the UTMB Department of Global Health and Emerging Diseases, “global health” embraces the Koplan et al definition, adding that global health:
    • Embraces multidisciplinary and action-oriented approaches
    • Addresses inequities domestically and internationally by establishing long-term partnerships
    • Sees health within historical, social, political, and economic contexts
    • Appreciates inter-relationships of human, animal, environmental, and planetary health

Emerging Diseases:

  • The term “emerging” has been used in epidemiology to describe diseases, mostly caused by infectious pathogens, that have either increased recently or are threatening to increase in the future.
  • We use the term ”emerging diseases” to capture the novelty of infectious pathogen emergence, but allow for a scope that encompasses the shift towards non-communicable and occupational diseases in global epidemiology and burden of disease.
  • For the purposes of the UTMB Department of Global Health and Emerging Diseases, “emerging diseases” applies the CDC definition to include:
    • Infectious, non-communicable, and occupational/injury-related diseases or conditions
    • Both previously unknown diseases/conditions and known diseases/conditions that are increasing in frequency or severity over time
  • Together, the components of “global health” and “emerging diseases” result in a Departmental scope of work that leverages the strengths of UTMB in research, education, and practice in the areas of emerging infectious diseases, aging and non-communicable conditions, injury and violence prevention, environmental health, community engagement, and aerospace medicine, thus creating the opportunity for truly collaborative and transdisciplinary public health research, education, and practice.


1. JP Koplan, C Bond, MH Merson et al, Towards a common definition of global health, Lancet 2009, 373:1993-1995