Global health scholars program and lecture series established

The Merck Company Foundation and Princeton University will expand upon a 27-year-old partnership to create the Adel Mahmoud Global Health Scholars Program and Lecture Series in Global Health.

Funded by a grant from the Merck Company Foundation, the scholars program and lecture series will be based at the Center for Health and Wellbeing, part of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

The global health scholars program will provide outstanding Princeton students with funding for travel and research to pursue global health-related internships and senior thesis research, while the lecture series will bring a number of leading experts to Princeton to speak about aspects of global health policy, ranging from child health and survival to the containment of international pandemics.

Both programs, named in honor of Dr. Adel Mahmoud in recognition of his distinguished career at Merck & Co. Inc. and his pioneering work in global health, will create new opportunities to engage Princeton undergraduates in this growing field.

"This initiative will encourage our students to explore in depth the critical issues that confront us in the realm of global health and disease control," said Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman. "I am grateful to Merck for its generosity and for honoring Adel Mahmoud, who has done so much to foster international health through biomedical research and public policy formation."

Mahmoud, former president of Merck Vaccines, oversaw Merck's extensive vaccine portfolio, including its HIV vaccine program as well as new vaccines for rotavirus, human papilloma virus and shingles. His academic research has focused on international health, and he is a widely recognized expert on infectious disease and immunization in developing countries. Prior to his tenure at Merck, Mahmoud was chairman of medicine and physician-in-chief at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland. Mahmoud currently has a joint appointment in the Woodrow Wilson School as a senior policy analyst and in the University's Department of Molecular Biology as a lecturer with the rank of professor. His teaching and research at Princeton focuses on scientific and policy issues in global health and disease control.

As part of the new program, four juniors will be selected each fall by a faculty committee for the scholars program from 2007 until 2011. Application materials for the first year will be available when students return to campus this fall, and the scholars will be announced by mid-term break. The rigorous application and selection process will focus on both academic performance and interest in global health issues.

The lecture series, which will bring two leading researchers and practitioners in global health policy to Princeton annually, will reach a much larger audience of Princeton students and faculty as well as the general public. The first lecture will take place in 2008.

"Merck's generous grant will support the Wilson School's focus on producing future scientists, practitioners and policy leaders to solve the world's most challenging health problems," said Christina Paxson, a professor of economics and public affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School who has served as director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing since its launch in 2000. The center seeks to foster research and teaching on the multiple aspects of health and wellbeing in both developed and developing countries.

"The funding provided by the global health program will increase the number of fieldwork opportunities for our undergraduates, as well as make them more accessible to students from lower-income backgrounds," Paxson added.

"This program is a fitting tribute to the many important contributions Adel Mahmoud made not only during his tenure at Merck, but also throughout his career in international health and infectious disease," said Richard T. Clark, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Merck. "We are honored to support the Woodrow Wilson School in this innovative program, which we hope, over time, will lead to more informed discussions and potential solutions to the many health challenges facing the global community."

Through a combination of gifts, grants, collaborative research, and customized programs with faculty and students, Merck has supported work in the sciences and engineering at Princeton since 1980.