Skip to main content

GLBE 151: Global Health Medical Student Research

MS1 Elective: 8-week credit-bearing research elective with permission from Dr. Sylvia Becker-Dreps and the global site PI or mentor in conjunction with OGHE approval.

This elective is intended as an early research experience in global health, in collaboration with an UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases (IGHID) faculty or associated faculty at a site on an assigned, ongoing project or research study.

The following are eligible sites for this course: Malawi, Zambia, China, Nicaragua, South Africa, Vietnam.

Other sites considered upon request if the student is pursuing credit for a proposed research project under UNC and UNC/Global collaborator team members.

Malawi: UNC Project-Malawi

The University of North Carolina Project-Malawi (UNC Project) is a collaboration between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Malawi Ministry of Health. It is based on the campus of Kamuzu Central Hospital in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.

The mission of UNC Project-Malawi is to identify innovative, culturally acceptable, and affordable methods to improve the health of the people of Malawi, through research, capacity building, and care.

Key Faculty: Irving Hoffman (US Director), Innocent Mofolo (In-Country Director), Mina Hosseinipour (Clinical Director), Jennifer Tang (OB-GYN), Satish Gopal (Cancer), Anthony Charles (Burns/Trauma/Surgery)


In 2012, IGHID recruited a large research team who were working in Zambia. Their research and clinical activities were at that time based at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), which they had built with their Zambian colleagues over a decade. More recently, at the request of Zambian academic authorities, the UNC team has turned its attention to a closer partnership the University of Zambia (UNZA) School of Medicine and its affiliated University Teaching Hospital (UTH). Toward this end a new partnership has been developed for direct UNC-UNZA engagement.

Key Faculty: Jeff Stringer, Groesbeck Parham, Benjamin Chi

China: UNC Project-China

The mission of UNC Project-China is to work collaboratively through research, teaching, and service to improve the health of China and promote the University’s presence in China.

UNC faculty, students, and trainees are leading collaborative research on non-communicable diseases, HIV and STIs, maternal and child health, health and migration, heart disease, nutrition, obesity, and other global health areas.  The UNC Project is a collaboration between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Chinese partner organizations.

Requires fluency in Mandarin.

Key Faculty: Joe Tucker


The University of Nicaragua (UNAN)-University of North Carolina (UNC) relationship arose in 1999 through a series of service and teaching initiatives, with research initiatives beginning in 2003. Research at the site has focused on pediatric vaccines and gastrointestinal disease epidemiology, often in partnership with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health. UNC collaborators are provided with office space within the Department of Microbiology at the UNAN Medical Campus in León, Nicaragua. The program provides students with options for housing in León, including with host families. There are opportunities to improve Spanish language skills through formal classes in León. Areas of active investigation include 1) clinical features and epidemiologic risk for symptomatic Zika infection 2) sequelae of congenital Zika infection 3) viral gastroenteritis in children.

Key Faculty: Sylvia Becker-Dreps

South Africa: Right to Care

UNC maintains a longstanding collaboration with the South African NGO, Right to Care, and its affiliated research group, the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Clinical HIV Research Unit (CHRU). The collaboration, currently led by Drs. Carla Chibwesha (UNC GWH) and Bridgette Goeieman (RTC), provides an excellent learning environment for medical and public health trainees interested in global women’s health and global oncology.

Key Faculty: Carla Chibwesha


Vietnam became a UNC site in 2013 after Vivian Go, PhD, joined the IGHID. UNC Project-Vietnam is headquartered in Hanoi with two project offices in Thai Nguyen (40 miles north of Hanoi). Ten full-time Vietnamese national staff oversee three NIH grants. The team researches the development and evaluation of HIV-related interventions among key populations, including injection drug users and men who have sex with men.

Key Faculty: Vivian Go, Irving Hoffman