Nashville's Meharry Medical College is working out the details of its first international partnership, and the historically black institution plans to focus on health challenges the U.S. shares with the southern African nation of Zambia.
The partnership with the University of Zambia will involve swapping students and faculty. They will focus their research in seven shared areas, including late-onset diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Maria Lima, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, says Zambia was chosen strategically since Meharry's work is primarily on health disparities
"Some of the cancers, the increase in heart disease and hypertension, almost look like the U.S.," she says. "So that's something that is interesting to study. Are there any linkages? Is it a health disparity?"
Meharry has been making a concerted effort to partner with outside institutions in recent years, with a new fast-track degree program for primary care physicians with Middle Tennessee State University and a new residency program with for-profit hospital chain HCA.
The partnership in Zambia starts this fall and also involves Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
"The opportunity to work in collaboration with the University of Zambia and Morehouse expands the academic, clinical and research horizons of our students and faculty to a foreign continent, culture and people," Meharry president James Hildreth said in a statement.
"In today's global society, Meharry's mission is no longer contained to borders or city limits. We must serve the underserved wherever they live in the world."