November 14, 2007
- translational research,
- doctoral education,
- public health...More
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Finding solutions to complex health problems, such as obesity, violence, and climate change, will require radical changes in cross-disciplinary education, research, and practice. The fundamental determinants of health include many interrelated factors such as poverty, culture, education, environment, and government policies. However, traditional public health training has tended to focus more narrowly on diseases and risk factors, and has not adequately leveraged the rich contributions of sociology, anthropology, economics, geography, communication, political science, and other disciplines. Further, students are often not sufficiently trained to work across sectors to translate research findings into effective, large-scale sustainable actions.
During the past 2 decades, national and international organizations have called for more effective interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and translational approaches to graduate education. Although it has been difficult to work across traditional academic boundaries, some promising models draw on pedagogical theory and feature cross-disciplinary training focused on real-world problems, linkage between research, professional practice, community action, and cultivation of leadership skills.
We describe the development the Doctor of Public Health program at the University of California, Berkeley, USA and its efforts to improve transdisciplinary and translational research education. We stress the need for international collaboration to improve educational approaches and better evaluate their impact.