Doctoral program in Global Health (PhD)

Introduction

The creation of the doctoral program in biomedical sciences, global health track, in late 2014 by the current director of the Institute of Global Health, responds to the needs of training in the methodology of interdisciplinary research in global health and the career development needs of its target audience. The objectives of the program are to develop the scientific skills of doctoral students, particularly in implementation science in the field of global health covering three dimensions: Health leadership, Global health and Research methodology.

Seven cohorts of students have been enrolled in the program since the program officially started in the Spring Semester of 2015, and 15 students have defended their theses on topics spanning across mental health, digital health, medical humanitarian action, international health regulation or healthcare associated infections. The 71 students currently undergoing their PhD training are mostly professionals working in international Health organizations and non-governmental organizations (WHO, UNAIDS, USAIDS, UNOPS, global fund, GAVI, ICRC, UNICEF, MSF), and are based in Switzerland or - for half of them - out- side Europe. Indeed, the program is adapted to the needs of future researchers or lecturers as well as to the needs of mid-career professionals who are active in the field and wish to train in research while continuing to work.

Structure of the program

The structure of the program is original in that it provides for 1) an onsite training component, in the form of presential weeks in Switzerland (14 ECTS), and 2) a distance learning component (4 ECTS). The two components, totaling 18 ECTS, are completed during the first two years of the student's curriculum.

The modular presential training is based on the offer of a range of doctoral courses accredited by the "Swiss School of Public Health" (SSPH+), which is the umbrella foundation for 10 Swiss universities. This teaching platform has the particularity of hosting and offering doctoral courses in public health to PhD candidates registered in one of the 10 Swiss universities affiliated with SSPH+.

Within this context, the course weeks organized by our team at the Institute of Global Health: the "Spring School of Global Health" (2 ECTS) and the "One Week Medical School" (2 ECTS) are also open to all doctoral students from Swiss universities who are members of SSPH+, at a reduced rate.


Conclusion

The doctoral program  provides  professionals  working  in international organizations and non-governmental organizations with the opportunity of carrying out public and global health projects implemented by the institution they serve. At the same time, by developing their methodological research skills and developing their professional networks, doctoral students contribute to the implementation and development of several global health projects of these organizations.

Furthermore, doctoral students from international organizations provide thesis directors–to date, 33 professors from the Faculty of Medicine – with the possibility of opening up new transdisciplinary collaborations. Meanwhile, these organizations see this program as an opportunity to improve the loyalty of their best  employees,  by  offering  them the possibility of high-level training on the job, with the doctorate being considered an "executive doctoral degree". In summary, the University of Geneva’s proximity with ‘International Geneva’ greatly facilitates this program and makes it economically efficient for all parties concerned.