Global Health Academy Opening: A Novel Initiative to Support Early Career Researchers

The Global Health Academy Opening Ceremony was hosted by the University of Bonn in an online event that attracted around 200 early career researchers and members of the German Alliance for Global Health Research, GLOHRA. Speakers from academia to the political sector expressed their support for this GLOHRA initiative, while panelists shared concrete ways of how the Academy can best support the development of global health researchers.

Prof. Dr. Veronika von Messling (BMBF) shares her enthusiasm for the Global Health Academy Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Panel Discussion with Academic Advisory Board and Current PhD Students

An opening presentation clarified the intended role of the academy: to increase support for and competencies among early career researchers in Germany interested in global health. The target audience is primarily PhD students and post-docs – individuals who have demonstrated a clear interest in global health research, but who could use assistance in gaining competencies and networking opportunities to assist their career progression.

The event was kicked off with enthusiasm from the assorted speakers. Wolfgang Holzgreve, Medical Director and CEO of University Hospital Bonn, lauded the Academy for being part of a trend that encourages current and future doctors and researchers to think about health from a global perspective, noting the recent progress in Germany. Veronika von Messling, Director General for Life Sciences at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) echoed this sentiment, expressing support on behalf of the BMBF for both GLOHRA and the Academy in particular. She noted its valuable contribution in enabling dialogue across disciplines and encouraging new approaches to collaboration in research. Devi Sridhar from Edinburgh University and science communication expert Eckart von Hirschhausen touched on the topical themes of COVID-19 and planetary health respectively, emphasizing how such massive challenges will require a future generation who is able to think about problems holistically.

The vision and contributions of the Global Health Academy were clarified in the panel discussion, which was moderated by Maeve Cook-Deegan from the GLOHRA Secretariat and involved the Academic Advisory Board members and early career researchers. The Academic Advisory Board includes representatives from all GLOHRA research areas and provides informal guidance to the development of the Academy. The board is comprised of Steering Committee Members Walter Bruchhausen, Sonia Diaz-Monsalve, Meral Esen, Eva Kantelhardt and Eva Rehfuess. The panel benefitted from the additional perspectives of two current PhD students: Muluken Gizaw, joining from Ethiopia and Felix Holl, joining from Munich. The fruitful discussion noted the potential of the Academy to firstly, grant researchers access to perspectives from different disciplines, secondly, to enable networking between senior and early career researchers and finally, to build competencies in knowledge translation as well as implementing research insights.

A well-deserved thank you goes out to the organizing team at Bonn University, in particular Academy Coordinator Esther Evang and Walter Bruchhausen, GLOHRA Steering Committee Co-Speaker with special responsibilities for the Academy. We look forward to the ongoing development of the Academy!