HYC Beginnings

Letter From Our Executive Director

Dear friends and colleagues,

As an early mentee of our founding director, Dr. Ralph Corey, I participated in a global health rotation in Kenya in the mid-nineties.  Having experienced firsthand the value of working with global communities in resource limited settings, I am excited and honored to lead the Hubert-Yeargan Center into 2021 and beyond. 

Under Dr. Corey’s leadership, over 450 Duke Residents deployed to work across twenty diverse global locations. Understanding the essential requirement for bi-directional opportunities, he also hosted over 200 international trainees from fifteen global partners at Duke for several weeks to a year.

Dr. Corey’s visionary leadership also led to the creation of the Global Health Pathway for Residents and Fellows (GHP). A unique program when compared with our peer institutions, the GHP accepts individuals from all subspecialties, provides extended protected time to conduct research overseas and provides masters level training in Global Health through the Duke MSc-GH. Graduates of this program have been academically prolific, producing over 250 global health related publications, landing faculty appointments at academic institutions, appointments at the NIH, CDC, NGO sector and advanced training programs.

Throughout, the HYC has remained true to its core mission, "to develop the next generation of globally educated, socially responsible healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the health of disadvantaged populations," and its commitment to improve the health of the communities in which we serve. We have built a robust cardiovascular service in Western Kenya, including a ten-bed cardiac care unit and a Kenyan led Cardiovascular Fellowship Training Program.  And, we have provided significant operational, research, and laboratory funding to build health system capacity at global partner sites, particularly Sri Lanka and Tanzania, in order to provide a stable and robust care and research infrastructure.

We recognize that these turbulent times require intentional change in how we deliver on our mission. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, while limiting "on the ground" work, encourages us to adapt new approaches to engage with our partners and facilitate the research of our trainees. I am confident that we can do that through creative technical approaches. However, the health disparities highlighted by the epidemic, combined with the social unrest raging in the wake of ongoing disregard for black life and other forms of systemic racism, heighten a need for additional engagement in our own community under the banner of "local is global".

We remain forever grateful for the boundless enthusiasm and vision Dr. Corey brought to educating young trainees across the globe. I look forward to continuing his vision and growing in our mission as we continue this journey.

Christopher W. Woods, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine, Pathology, and Global Health
Executive Director, Hubert-Yeargan Center for Global Health
Associate Director, Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine
Duke University Medical Center
Chief, Infectious Diseases
Durham VA Medical Center