Pictured (above) - Drs. Hani Serag, Hanna Sallam, UTMB leaders, project supervisors, and Egyptian Scholars.

Department of Global HealthIn the News

Building Bridges with Academic Medicine in Egypt

Global health is dedicated to improving health and advancing equity in health for all. Academic institutions like UTMB can have an impact on these laudable goals by developing long-term, sustainable global collaborations in education, training, policy, and clinical as well as public health practice. In so doing, the world becomes just a bit smaller, and we realize how much we can all learn from one another.

Building partnerships to strengthen the global health workforce is one of the ways that academic institutions can contribute to enhancing the responsiveness of health systems and addressing health inequities. To that end, on Friday, June 30th, 2023, UTMB Division of Endocrinology faculty members Drs. Hani Serag and Hanaa Sallam hosted a farewell ceremony for ten visiting clinicians and scientists from Egypt who formed the inaugural cohort of scholars for the Egyptian Research Scholar and Clinical Observership Program.

Ms. Lauren Sheer, Vice President of Legislative Affairs at the Office of Health Policy & Legislative Affairs at UTMB provided the opening remarks and introduced the Egyptian Cultural Attaché in the United States and the Director of the Cultural and Educational Bureau at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, DC, Dr. Ali Massoud. Dr. Massoud commended this initiative and emphasized the potential of scaling up this collaboration for the mutual benefit of the Egyptian academic institutes and UTMB. Each scholar was then given an opportunity to speak about their experience and what lessons they would take back to their home institutions in Egypt. Most scholars were able to be there in person, while a few presented over Zoom from their home institutions. Also in attendance at the event were numerous institutional leaders, including Dr. Gulshan Sharma, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical and Clinical Innovation Officer, and Dr. Kevin McKinney, Director of the Division of Endocrinology, who were instrumental in facilitating the program’s success.

The Egyptian Scholars program has significantly benefited from the support of UTMB’s Office of Educational Development. All program participants have joined an intensive and curtailed version of the Scholars in Education program, “a faculty development program that focuses on teaching core curriculum development and educational skills that help turn teachers into educators,” says Dr. Marconi Monteiro, Director of the Scholars in Education Program.

The Egyptian Research Scholar & Clinical Observership Program was initiated by Drs. Serag and Sallam under an affiliation agreement between the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, DC. Between November 2022 and July 2023, ten medical professionals (physicians and pharmacists) affiliated with the Egyptian Ministry of Health and two leading universities in Cairo, Egypt, spent time participating in clinical observerships, academic activities, educational development training, and participation in UTMB’s regular seminars and events. All visiting Scholars secured full scholarships from the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) and the Higher Education Initiative Graduate Scholarships for Professionals research scholars (non-degree program) at US Universities.

“The Research Scholarship and Scholarship succeeded in building the trust between UTMB and public higher education institutes in Egypt and demonstrated mutual benefits. It served as an initial step that will be soon followed by larger-scale collaboration,” said Dr. Serag. “Among many, one of the substantiative outcomes of the program is we are currently working on more than five jointly-authored manuscripts between UTMB and the Egyptian side – for each manuscript, we formed a team from both sides that also includes UTMB students as a unique opportunity for research engagement for our students,” said Dr. Sallam. As long-term projects, the team is working on programming initiatives for collaboration in the areas of medical education and digitalizing healthcare systems.

The Department of Global Health, along with the many Departments that received the visiting scholars value this agreement and consider it the start of a long-lasting collaboration with Egyptian academic institutes in health, including medicine, pharmacy, nursing, public health, and other disciplines.

Dr. Hani Serag and Dr. Hanaa Sallam (center) with several of the Egyptian Scholars at the June 30th farewell ceremony.