Press Releases

2007 Releases

Harvard School of Public Health and Other Boston Universities to Host Symposium on Public Health in India

For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007

Boston--In a unique collaboration bringing together influential public health figures from Boston and India, Boston's leading research universities will be hosting the Boston-India Symposium on Essential Interfaces in Public Health, to be held on October 22nd and 23rd, 2007 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel. The Symposium will be jointly hosted by four of Boston's most respected institutions in the field of public health: Boston University (Global Health Initiative), Harvard University (Harvard School of Public Health), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology), and Tufts University.

The Symposium will bring together leading academics, innovators, and key government stakeholders from Boston and India to discuss collaborative strategies for meeting international public health challenges. Goals of the Symposium will be to facilitate connection between U.S. academic institutions and colleagues in India to foster the application of public health knowledge, and to highlight what academics in the U.S. can learn from their colleagues in India to make their work more relevant to the solution of international problems in public health.

Speakers for the Symposium will include representatives from India and the host institutions. Presentations and discussions will be organized around four interfaces that must function successfully to allow effective innovation and delivery of public health solutions:

  • The Interface of Knowledge Generation and Knowledge Application in International Health
  • The Interface of Public Health Research and Health Policy
  • The Interface of Knowledge and Product Development
  • The Management of Health Care Delivery and Health Research

The exchange of ideas centered on these interfaces will serve to identify opportunities for new collaborative projects between Boston- and India-based institutions that will improve public health outcomes in India.

The Symposium will include four speaker sessions, panel discussions, and a poster session to showcase ongoing collaborations between the host institutions and colleagues in India.

Confirmed speakers include:

Harris Berman, Tufts University; M.K. Bhan, Ministry of Science and Technology, India; Dean Barry R. Bloom, Harvard School of Public Health; David Bloom, Harvard School of Public Health; Nirmal Ganguly, Indian Council of Medical Research; Martha Gray, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Jeffrey Griffiths, Tufts University; David Kaplan, Tufts University; Tarun Khanna, Harvard University; Gerald Keusch, Boston University; V.I. Mathan, National Institute of Epidemiology (Chennai); J.P. Muliyil, Christian Medical College (Vellore); Srinath Reddy, Public Health Foundation of India; Jonathan Rosen, Boston University; Gita Sen, Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore); Jonathon Simon, Boston University; Vikas Sukhatme, Harvard University.

Who should attend:

Faculty and students from schools of public health, medicine, engineering, business, communications, government, and international relations interested in advancing public health in India are invited to register, as are business and foundation leaders seeking insights into the impact of public health on development and opportunities for growth.

Registration is free but limited to the first 150 applicants: To obtain a registration form, please e-mail or call Lindsay LeClair at 617-392-0993.

For information regarding the poster session, e-mail Dr. Heather Dawes at (include "poster session" in the subject line) or call her at 617-563-0121.

Background on Public Health Advances in India

Since India was established as an independent nation 60 years ago, the health of the Indian population has steadily improved, with a doubling in life expectancy and a halving of the infant mortality rate as well as a sharp reduction in the prevalence of severe malnutrition.  A new health care system has been created that despite numerous problems, has succeeded in eradicating smallpox and guinea worm and has dramatically reduced the number of people infected with leprosy, malaria and poliomyelitis. 

Nonetheless, with its growing population at over 1.1 billion, and with persisting poverty, especially in rural areas, the health care system has not been able to keep pace with the challenges.  As a result, India still lags behind many neighboring countries in Asia with respect to a variety of measures of health, including life expectancy, infant and under-five mortality, and HIV and tuberculosis prevalence.

In response, India is striving to build a public health workforce of substantial size that can emphasize prevention and population-based interventions.  In the past few years the government has undertaken efforts to revitalize public health education in India.  Two initiatives stand out, the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which are starting new schools of public health. [ See article on Harvard School of Public Health collaboration:]

Organizers of the October Symposium plan to focus on the application of public health product development, policy, and health services.  Their hope is that the symposium will lead to better mapping of public health needs in India and to a better understanding of the ways in which the US-based institutions can support education, research and service at the community level with collaborators in India. 

For more information contact:
Robin Herman


Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public's health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 300 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 900-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children's health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: