The University of Miami Ethics Programs have been redesignated as a Collaborating Center in Ethics and Global Health Policy by the World Health Organization in Geneva.
UM’s center is one of six in the world. The initial four-year designation began in 2008; the current redesignation is valid through 2016.
The redesignation affirms the Ethics Programs’ two decades of work in ethics education, research, and public policy in Latin America, the Caribbean, and other regions, according to Kenneth Goodman, professor of medicine, co-director of UM’s Ethics Programs, and director of the University’s Bioethics Program.
“This redesignation acknowledges UM’s role as an international leader in ethics education and policy,” Goodman said. “It is also a mark of a great university’s dedication to collaborative research in a global context.”
Other WHO collaborating centers in ethics are in Canberra, Australia, New York, Paris, Toronto, and Zurich.
According to the organization’s website, “WHO collaborating centres are institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies, which are designated by the Director-General to carry out activities in support of the Organization’s programmes.”
Recent UM contributions to the WHO mission include work on public health ethics curricula, tuberculosis education and policy, and the management of conflicts of interest by institutional review boards or research ethics committees.
The UM Collaborating Center includes among its terms of reference a forthcoming project on ethics and international health information technology.
As international program director of the Ethics Programs, Sergio G. Litewka has played an essential role in the Collaborating Center’s activities. Litewka, who last year was appointed to a special international committee of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, is also project director for the Pan American Bioethics Initiative (PABI), an NIH-Fogarty Center grant to expand research ethics education around Latin America and the Caribbean. PABI is a collaboration with UM’s Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program, for which Litewka also serves as international director.
“I am constantly struck by the value placed on opportunities to partner with UM,” Litewka said. “It is especially gratifying when our institution is sought out for projects around the hemisphere.”
According to the WHO, “The idea of using national institutions for international purposes dates back to the days of the League of Nations, when national laboratories were first designated as reference centres for the standardization of biological products. As soon as WHO was established, it appointed more reference centres, starting in 1947 with the World Influenza Centre in London for worldwide epidemiological surveillance.”