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Global Health

Katie Dickerson headshot"This program was a powerful dive into the world of global health. The trends and topics we discussed during the course week gave us both the vocabulary and the curiosity to learn by experience in our internship placements. I was so impressed by the individuals who served as my classmates and absolutely loved being in Geneva."—​ Katie Dickerson, Stanford School of Medicine


The Global Health Fellows track is designed to equip students to join in the fight against HIV/AIDS, health security, and other pressing health challenges. The program will provide students with both an academic and experiential perspective on how intergovernmental institutions, public-private partnerships, and non-governmental organizations shape global health policy.

The Global Health track combines internships with an intensive course entitled “PubPol 860.02” providing students a unique opportunity to learn first-hand how global health policy is formulated and implemented.

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  • Student Group picture in classroom

    Understanding International Health Policy

    Global Health Fellows posed for a photo together at the World Health Organization Strategic Operations Centre, where international collaborators discuss public health emergencies. Through inside access and meetings with top policy practitioners, fellows gain a solid foundation in international health policy and expand their professional networks.

The program is open to graduate students attending schools of public policy, public health and medicine. We also accept a limited number of exceptional undergraduate students.

Program Structure

The Global Health track requires a minimum commitment of eleven weeks, except for MD students who must commit to nine weeks. Program components include placement in a health policy-related internship for a minimum of eight weeks (longer internships preferred), and the required five-day intensive course on “Prevent, Detect, Respond: Understanding Security and Global Health.” Global Health Fellows will also belong to a cohort of other fellows from a diverse range of backgrounds who share a common interest in global health. To apply to be a Global Health Fellow with the Duke Program on Global Policy and Governance, please refer to the How to Apply page.

About the Policy Internship

All Fellows work in a Geneva-based policy internship, where they gain useful experience contributing to program and policy-making in global health. Some Fellows help to prepare policy briefings and meetings; others conduct gap-filling research. From building databases and interviewing stakeholders to synthesizing literature and putting together presentations, fellows contribute to the work of placement sites.

In the past, students have interned at a wide range of NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, including:

  • The World Health Organization
  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

Students are encouraged to arrive by mid-May may to witness the deliberations of the World Health Assembly. Many fellows forge lasting professional ties and friendships, both with mentors and with a cohort of future leaders in global health.

Internship Length

Interns are encouraged to make as long of a commitment as possible to the program. Longer internship availability makes students more competitive during the internship search process, and maximizes the amount of time an intern can learn from and contribute to their placement. More details on our Internships page.

Some of the Global Health internship sites (i.e. the World Health Organization) will accept interns who have limited schedules given the restrictive schedules of many MD students. 

GH Track minimum program commitment:

  • MD students - 9 week minimum commitment (8 weeks for the internship + 1 week for the Intensive Course)
  • MPH, MScGH, and all other Global Health applicants are required to make a minimum commitment of 11 weeks to the program (10 week internship + 1 week Intensive Course)

Kevin Ramseur headshot“The Geneva program provides all participants the opportunity to learn how health policy is developed on a global scale, to be a part of a cultural exchange with students from all over the world, and work with global leaders in their field. The true value, however, lies in taking advantage of those opportunities: setting up meetings with professionals from the expert panels, speaking to leaders during the site visits to international organizations, and taking initiative during the course week to network within the cohort.”— Kevin Ramseur II, Duke University

Want to learn more about how your summer in Geneva can shape your career in Global Health? Read about an alumna's experience and her advice to students here.

​About the Course: PubPol 860.02

The course will take place June 10 – June 14, 2019. It provides an overview of the how disease is understood within both the global health policy landscape and by political actors. The course modules cover issues of cross-border challenges in global health on topics such as human security and disease outbreaks.

students listening to a professorThrough seminars, case competitions, and site visits, participants will explore the range of framings of health security and discuss the policies that develop as a consequence. From year to year, the course offering varies, often highlighting current policy issues. In the past, course participants have heard from senior officials from a wide range of Geneva-based organizations engaged in global health, from the WHO’s Tobacco-Free Initiative and World Alliance for Patient Safety to the Polio Eradication Initiative and the WHO’s Department of Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property. Course participants also pay site visits to nine to ten different organizations. Past site visits have included the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Médecins sans Frontières, and UNAIDS. Please note that this information is tentative -- learn more about the course's structure by viewing the 2018 course syllabus here.

During the course week, the program also facilitates additional evening events, such as a program reception, mentorship dinners, and networking events. 

"As a fourth year medical student, the Duke Geneva Program offered a new lens on policy development. I was able to integrate past experiences in public health and medicine to assist in developing new guidelines and policies and really felt apart of the team at the WHO. Not to mention inspired by my co-fellows in the Global Health program!— Jessica Watson, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida

The DGP Program offers the option of directly enrolling in the global health intensive course. You can learn more about the course here.

About the Faculty Instructor

Gavin YameyGavin Yamey, MD, MPH, trained in clinical medicine at Oxford University and University College London, medical journalism and editing at the BMJ and public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He was Deputy Editor of the Western Journal of Medicine, Assistant Editor at the BMJ, a founding Senior Editor of PLOS Medicine, and the Principal Investigator on a $1.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the launch of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. In 2009, he was awarded a Kaiser Family Mini-Media Fellowship in Global Health Reporting to examine the barriers to scaling up low cost, low tech health tools in Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.

Dr. Yamey serves on two international health commissions, the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health and the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery. He has been an External Advisor to the WHO and to TDR, the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases. Dr. Yamey has published extensively on global health, neglected diseases, health policy, and disparities in health and has been a frequent commentator on National Public Radio.

Before joining Duke, Dr. Yamey led the Evidence-to-Policy Initiative in the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and was an Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatics at the UCSF School of Medicine.

About Funding

Please note that Fellows may not accept funding from industry or corporate foundation sources to support their participation in the program.

The Global Health track receives support from the Duke Global Health Institute and Duke University’s Program on Global Health and Technology Access at the Sanford School of Public Policy.


During the intensive course week, guest lecturer Dr. Shams Syed of the World Health Organization offered his advice to DGP Fellows.