Health--a central factor of every human life across the world. Yet, much of the discussion
around important health issues remains limited to specialized professionals. To break down
these boundaries, the “What is Global Health” podcast creates meaningful and shareable
interviews between influential global health professionals and students. We cover relevant,
current issues in public health, including health policy, environmental health, and epidemiology.
Ran entirely by student interviewers, our podcast also offers a creative, fresh approach to
intersectional topics, such as mental health or patient narratives, under the umbrella theme of
The podcast works to spread accessibility of public & global health beyond the academic and professional world. Through conversational dialogue, we hope to increase public awareness of public & global health issues as well as inspire new interest in the field. The “What is Global Health” podcast is produced by the Journal of Global Health, the most widely-distributed student public health journal in the country.
Volcanology and How Communities Are Affected By Volcanic Activity | Dr. Bradley Pitcher
In this episode of “What is Global Health,” Bowei Li (CC’26) spoke with Dr. Bradley Pitcher from Columbia University on the risks associated with volcanoes. Dr. Pitcher explains the health consequences that volcanoes induce and the tradeoffs that communities make in living near them. He also gives insight into future trends in volcanic activity in relation to climate change.
Dr. Bradley Pitcher is a professor at Columbia University. He is a faculty member of the Frontiers of Science program and a lecturer of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia.
Transcript (Via Sonix)
Bowei Li: [00:00:08] Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of What is Global Health, a student run podcast series by the Journal of Global Health at Columbia University. In this series, we interview experts in the fields to learn more about topics ranging from COVID 19 to menstrual health and hygiene. We aim to factor all elements of identity: race, gender, sexuality, religion and more into discussions of global health. My name is Bobby Lee and I am a first year perspective public health student at Columbia College. This week, I got to speak with Dr. Bradley Pitcher about the health risks associated with volcanoes. So let's get started. Volcanoes might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a public or global health risk, especially if you're a resident of the East Coast USA. However, volcanoes are health hazards to many communities around the world, and this has increasingly become a cause for concern as urbanization continues to expand and tight knit infrastructure systems are increasingly built on fertile volcanic soil. In light of these trends, Dr. Pitcher's work focuses on using past volcanic eruptions to inform and predict future ones. Dr. Pitcher has studied volcanoes everywhere from the US to Italy to Japan and is currently a lecturer of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.
Dr. Bradley Pitcher: [00:01:36] The type of science that I do is actually called igneous petrology, but essentially I'm a volcano scientist. So what I do is I go and look at rocks from past volcanic eruptions and I shoot lasers at them and other things in order to figure out their chemistry. And by looking at the chemistry of these rocks, I can figure out what happened inside the volcano before it erupted. And so while although I study these past eruptions, there are other volcano scientists who look at current eruptions and and look specifically at how current eruptions or activity from active volcanoes could be affecting public health.
Bowei Li: [00:02:15] To start off the conversation, I wanted to get a wholescale sense of the health risks that volcanic eruptions pose. And as it turns out, the list is quite comprehensive. So what sort of health effects do erupting volcanoes or eruptive materials have on humans and like just generally health risks associated with that?
Dr. Bradley Pitcher: [00:02:36] Yes, that's that's a really great question. So in general, volcanoes have, you know, a handful of materials that can be erupted out of it. And so one of those is gases. So, for instance, the most common gas that gets erupted by volcanoes is actually water vapor. So that's not too big of a of a hazard. But then there's a bunch of other nasty gases that come directly from the magma and can be erupted during volcanic eruptions or even when the volcano is not erupting, it can be just slowly, passively degassing. And some of these more gnarly gases are, for instance, carbon dioxide and then also sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, even gaseous forms of arsenic and various other things. And so these gases can really pose, you know, health problems for people that live nearby. And so, for example, there's an, in, I believe it was in 1985, there was a lake called Lake Kivu in Africa. And gases from a from a volcano nearby had been leaking into the lake and collecting at the bottom of the lake. And beca
The Malaria Epidemic and the New WHO-Recommended Malaria Vaccine | Dr. Patrick Kachur
In this episode of “What is Global Health,” Madeleine Hum (CC’24) spoke with Dr. Patrick Kachur from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health on the malaria epidemic. Dr. Kachur gives insight into traditional prevention and treatment solutions used to combat malaria and explains the significance of the new malaria vaccine that has been approved and recommended by the World Health Organization. Dr. Patrick Kachur is a professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Medical Center.
Dr. Patrick Kachur is a professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Medical Center. He directs the Advancing Research on Comprehensive Health Systems (ARCHes) program in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health which focuses on designing and testing health systems interventions at scale and driving evidenced-based improvement of these initiatives. Dr. Kachur is also a faculty member of the Program on Forced Migration and Health which develops evidence-based approaches to humanitarian response and in training the next generation of global leaders.
His research focuses on experimental and observational epidemiology and health systems studies examining the effectiveness and equity of malaria and child health interventions, with an emphasis on real world research that shapes policies and programs. He contributed to interdisciplinary research establishing the efficacy of insecticide-treated nets in western Kenya and the feasibility and impact of routine use of artemisinin-based combination therapy in Tanzania. For much of his career, he was based at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where he held leadership roles in the Malaria Branch and Center for Global Health. He currently serves on the World Health Organization’s Malaria Policy Advisory Group.
Transcript (via Sonix)
Madeleine Hum: [00:00:07] Hello, everyone, welcome to this episode of the podcast of “What is Global Health?” My name is Madeleine Hum Humm, and on today's episode, we are going to talk with Dr. Patrick Kachur about the malaria epidemic and the new milestone to fighting malaria with a groundbreaking malaria vaccine that has been recently recommended by the World Health Organization. Our guest today, Dr. Kachur, is a public health physician with 30 years of experience in global health practice. He completed his clinical and residency training at the Mary Imaging Bassett Hospital and Johns Hopkins University, and a community health fellowship at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria. For much of his career, he was based at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he held leadership roles in the malaria branch and Center for Global Health, receiving the agency's highest service award. His research and scholarship have focused on experimental and observational epidemiology and health system studies that examines the effectiveness and equity of malaria in child health interventions, with an emphasis on real world research that shapes policies and programs. He contributed to interdisciplinary research establishing the efficacy of insecticide treated nets in western Kenya and the feasibility and impact of routine use of artemisinin-based combination therapy in Tanzania. Dr Kachur joined the faculty at the Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in Twenty Eighteen, where he coordinates implementation science partnerships with a focus on expanding access to quality global health programs and services. He now serves on the World Health Organization's Malaria Policy Advisory Group. Hello, Dr. Kachur. Thank you for joining me on this episode. We are happy to have you with us and hear more about your research and malaria expertise to get us started. Can you tell us how you became interested in studying the malaria epidemic and your journey from a practicing physician to a malaria expert and researcher?
Dr. Patrick Kachur: [00:01:59] Sure. I grew up j
Menstrual Health and Hygiene as a Public Health Issue | Dr. Marni Sommer
In this episode of “What is Global Health,” Phalaen Chang (CC ’23) spoke with Dr. Marni Sommer on the importance of menstrual health and education and discussed some solutions moving forward.Dr. Marni Sommer: Dr. Marni Sommer has worked in global health and development on issues ranging from improving access to essential medicines to humanitarian relief in conflict settings. Her particular areas of expertise include conducting participatory research with adolescents, understanding and promoting healthy transitions to adulthood, the intersection of public health and education, gender and sexual health, and the implementation and evaluation of adolescent-focused interventions. Her doctoral research explored girls’ experiences of menstruation, puberty and schooling in Tanzania, and the ways in which the onset of puberty might be disrupting girls’ academic performance and healthy transition to adulthood. Dr. Sommer also presently leads the Gender, Adolescent Transitions and Environment (GATE) Program, which explores the intersections of gender, health, education and the environment for girls and boys transitioning into adulthood in low-income countries and in the United States. GATE also generates research and practical resources focused on improving the integration of menstrual hygiene management and gender supportive sanitation solutions into global humanitarian response.
Transcript (via Sonix)
Phalaen Chang: [00:00:06] Hello, everyone, and welcome to this episode of “What is Global Health?” Although awareness of menstruation has been steadily increasing, especially with social media through Tiktoks and memes, the complex issue of menstrual health often still remains undiscussed and unexplored in many low and middle income countries and even in many parts of the United States, education around mental health is lacking, leaving girls inadequately prepared to feel comfortable with the changes in their bodies. Social stigma and lack of access to toilets add another layer to the problem, often creating barriers for girls education and obstacles for their health. Today, we have invited Dr. Marni Sommer to explore this complex and important issue of menstruation as a public health issue with us and shed light on some solutions moving forward.
Phalaen Chang: [00:01:02] Dr. Marni Sommer has worked in global health and development on issues ranging from improving access to essential medicines to humanitarian relief in conflict settings. Her particular area of expertise include conducting participatory research with adolescents, understanding and promoting healthy transitions to adulthood, the intersection of public health and education, gender and sexual health, and the implementation and evaluation of adolescent focused interventions. Her doctoral research explored girls experiences of menstruation, puberty and schooling in Tanzania and the ways in which the onset of puberty might be disrupting girls, academic performance and healthy transition to adulthood. Thank you so much for being here with us today! So kind of to get things started, how were you first made aware of menstruation as a public health issue?
Dr. Marni Sommer: [00:01:57] Yeah, well, that’s a fantastic question. And I would say it was not considered a public health question or issue when I started. So when I looked into exploring this issue, I had gone back to school to get my doctorate degree. I had been working in public health, but I had had this prior life experience of being in the Peace Corps in Eritrea and teaching in a school that didn’t have bathrooms. And I mean, there was one bathroom that the teachers used, but the kids didn’t have bathrooms. And it’s one of those things I used to think about. This was like ninety five to ninety seven in this village. Where do they go? The girls walk sometimes an hour to get to school on the road in this rural area, they sit for eight hours in the way th
Mass Incarceration and Public Health | Dr. Robert Fullilove
In this episode of What is Global Health?, Rachel Chang and Miriam Cepeda speak with Dr. Robert Fullilove on America’s mass incarceration. Dr. Fullilove explains how putting generations of black people behind bars is not only a persisting legacy of slavery but also how mass incarceration feeds directly into the racial disparities we see in COVID-19 and other health outcomes.
Dr. Robert Fullilove is Columbia University’s Associate Dean for Community and Minority Affairs, Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences, and the co-director of the Cities Research Group. As a leading public health researcher and advocator, he has served and advised both the CDC and NIH on substance abuse and HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Fullilove is actively fighting mass incarceration: he teaches public health courses in six New York State prisons through the Bard College Prison Initiative, where he serves as their public health senior advisor. Before he became a leading public health expert, Dr. Fullilove was — and still is — a civil rights activist and SNNC member. (In fact, you can find pictures of him protesting during the Freedom Summers in Mississippi.)
Mass Incarceration and Public Health | Dr. Robert Fullilove | Transcript (via Sonix)
[00:00:00] Welcome to the podcast of the Journal of Global Health. My name is Rachel Chang and I'm here with my co-host, Miriam Cepeda. Today we'd like to talk with Dr. Robert Fullilove about America's mass incarceration. Specifically, we want to discuss how putting generations of Black people behind bars is not only a persisting legacy of slavery, but also how mass incarceration feeds directly into the racial disparities we see in COVID-19 and other health outcomes.
[00:00:26] Before we start, I'd like to introduce Dr. Fullilove at Columbia University. Dr. Fullilove is Associate Dean for Community and Minority Affairs Professor of Clinical Social Medical Sciences and the Co-director of the City's Research Group. Dr. Fullilove has an extensive background in public health research and advocacy in topics like substance abuse and HIV/AIDS, and has served and advised for both the CDC and the NIH. Dr. Fullilove has actively been fighting mass incarceration for over a decade now. He has taught public health courses in six New York state prisons through the Bard College Prison Initiative and now serves as their public health senior advisor.
[00:01:05] And probably most impressive is that before he was a leading public health expert, Robert Fullilove was and still is a civil rights activist and SNCC member.
[00:01:17] Without further ado, we'd like to welcome and thank Dr. Foley love for joining us. Glad to be here. Thank you for having me.
[00:01:24] To set up the context, the US prison population has increased by seven hundred fold since 1970. In fact, the US has more people incarcerated than any other country in the world does where Black and Latinx individuals are being incarcerated at disproportionate rates. Can you explain to us why why our country has such a high incarceration rate?
[00:01:49] I think it's fair to say that we have, as a nation, never managed to get out from under a legacy that we have as a nation with slavery.
[00:02:01] Slavery was the ultimate level of social control over disadvantaged population. Since the end of the civil war reconstruction, the 20th and the 21st century, we still struggle with issues of race. So although the question might have been about mass incarceration, who we incarcerate tells a great deal. I think about what it is, how it impacts the United States as a whole and why it's such an immensely difficult problem. The fact that roughly 60 percent of all the folks who are locked up or people of color, the fact that they represent less than 20, 25 percent of the population in the United States means that their overrepresentation must mean something significant about our efforts to deal with issues like poverty or issues or issues related to educati
Screening, Treatment, and Recovery for Cancer Patients During the Pandemic | Dr. Dan Raz
In this episode of What is Global Health?, Phalaen Chang (CC ‘23) speaks with Dr. Dan Raz on cancer screening, treatments, and recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Dan Raz is co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, Associate Clinical Professor at the Division of Thoracic Surgery, and a thoracic surgeon at City of Hope in Duarte, CA. His research focuses on identifying new therapies to combat therapy resistance in lung cancer, targeting specific epigenetic changes to improve platinum sensitivity in lung cancer, and studying barriers to lung cancer screening.
Transcript (via Sonix)
Phalaen Chang: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this episode of “What is Global Health?” Almost a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic turned everyone’s lives upside down. Schools were closed, stay-home orders were issued, and hospitals across the country struggled to keep up with the rising numbers of cases and new demand for more resources and care than most had the resources to provide. While cancer hospitals stayed open to serve their cancer patients, I was curious about how concerns about the COVID-19 virus have affected cancer screenings, treatments and the well-being of cancer patients, especially as cases in L.A. continue to rise. We are so very lucky to have Dr. Dan Raz joining us today to offer his knowledge, wisdom and experience on this topic. Dr. Dan Raz is co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program, Associate Clinical Professor at the Division of Thoracic Surgery, and a thoracic surgeon at City of Hope in Duarte, CA. His research focuses on identifying new therapies to combat therapy resistance in lung cancer, targeting specific epigenetic changes to improve platinum sensitivity in lung cancer, and studying barriers to lung cancer screening. So to kind of start things off, because of the increase of cases in L.A. lately, there’s been a lot of news articles and accounts of how hospitals are overwhelmed, about how they don’t have enough resources like beds and oxygen.
So what’s the situation like for City of Hope right now and perhaps other cancer centers? And how have they been impacted in terms of like resources and staffing? And what changes have been made to ensure the safety of cancer patients?
Dr. Dan Raz: Yeah, first of all, thanks for speaking with me. Yeah, that’s a great question. Covid has really impacted us a lot at City of Hope. In a different way, I would say, than some other hospitals, so unlike most hospitals that are just so overwhelmed with covid patients, we have a relatively small number of covid patients. We don’t have an emergency room, for example, the way most hospitals do. And a lot of our patients are very immunocompromised. And so we’ve been working extra hard to try to reduce the number of covid patients in the hospital, if that’s possible. But I would say there’s still a really huge impact. So, for example,
for patients, patients with cancer are extremely frightened of getting covid because of, you know, being immunocompromised, you know, potentially getting sicker if they got covid, and so as a result, you know, we don’t allow visitors in our hospital, much like other places, staffing for the covid patients we have you know, we’re a relatively small hospital, so we have to section off parts of the hospital to treat covid patients. We need to have special different types of staff ratios for covid patients. And then, of course, you know, any time someone is exposed to covid or has covid, you know, they have to stay home. And so there’s been a lot of issues related to staffing.
Dr. Dan Raz: But at the same time, you know, I’m really proud of the job that our hospital’s done. And I would say that I feel very confident that, you know, it’s still a very safe place to get care and we’re still doing surgeries and, you know, giving the p
How COVID-19 Is Affecting Medical Education In The United States
In this episode, originally featured in The Lonely Campus, Columbia University’s The Journal of Global Health podcaster Areej Qadeer interviews current medical students at the Yale School of Medicine and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to explore how medical education and training is evolving in the face of COVID-19. Sofia, a third-year medical student at Yale widely known as @thisgirlnamedsofia on Instagram, reflects on her experience completing clinical rotations during the pandemic while Sidrah Shah (third-year medical student at UT Southwestern) and Hanya Qureshi (first-year medical student at Yale) share how they are adjusting to remote medical education.
How COVID-19 Is Affecting Medical Education in The United States | @thisgirlnamedsofia, Sidrah Shah, Hanya Qureshi | Transcript (via Sonix)
[00:00:01] Hi, everyone, my name is Areej Qadeer, and on today’s episode of The Lonely Campus, I’ll be sitting down with three different medical students who are all at different stages of their medical training in order to get some insight on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their medical education. To start off, I’ll be talking to Sophia from Yale University, also known as @thisgirlnamedsophia on Instagram, a page where she shares her journey to becoming a physician in order to learn more about how her in-person hospital experiences are currently being affected by the pandemic.
[00:00:35] So just as background, I am in my third year and it’s currently the beginning of May right now.
[00:00:44] So I’m going into my fourth year and our school does things a little bit differently than a lot of other schools. So Yale does the clinical year starting halfway through the second year. So January of your second year. You start in the hospital and it’s one year for clinical rotations, and so halfway through your third year, you’re done with all the rotations, but you have not yet taken a single board exam. Most schools do it the other way where they do two years in the classroom and you take your board exams, at least step one, you take step one and then you start in the hospital and you do your clinical year.
[00:01:33] And then by the time that year is done, you’re actually finished with your third year. So it’s comes out to be about the same. But for us, it’s just like a different order of things. So what that means is that I have finished all of my clinical rotations, but I have not yet taken a single board exam.
[00:01:54] And for me, the reason that I haven’t taken a board exam is because metrics testing centers have just like shut down and have cancelled my exam.
[00:02:03] My step one has literally been canceled and rescheduled like four times now, or I just trying to get a test date and have that work out. And then currently I am on a sub internship, which is something that students do after their clinical year, but before applying to residency. So once you decide what you want to apply into for residency, you do at least one sub internship, which is you’re basically pretending to be a first year resident and trying to get the hang of things. And so I’m actually doing that right now in pediatrics.
[00:02:43] So sorry, that was a lot. If you need any clarification, go ahead.
[00:02:49] that’s definitely all really useful information. I think you have a very unique experience across the board. I’m not sure how many medical students can say the same. So since you are in and out of the hospital in this time, whenever you come home, do you usually self isolate or are you only allowed to interact with like a certain group of people? Do they have a lot of restrictions on you?
[00:03:13] That’s a great question. So in terms of being in the hospital, most sub internships have actually been canceled just for this very reason of safety of the students and then a desire to conserve the PPE and all of that. But because pediatric patients haven’t be