NYU Shanghai Launches New Center for Global Health Equity

As the world continues to deal with both emerging and longstanding public health challenges, NYU Shanghai is planning to play a significant role in the search for solutions with a new Center for Global Health Equity. Directed by Professor of Global Health Brian Hall, the new center will bring world class researchers from around the world and across disciplines to find ways to improve the health of diverse populations.

“Our vision for this Center is a space for people to come together in Shanghai - faculty and students, psychologists, political scientists, media arts experts, public health researchers, and anthropologists - to ask and answer important questions that are related to public health,” said Hall, a psychiatric epidemiologist. “We hope to generate research grants, publications, and policy briefs that can really move the needle in terms of what health is, how we culturally define it, and critically, how we can improve it.” So far, Hall has brought together 20 faculty from across the NYU network, and 12 additional faculty from across China and the world to collaborate on key global health issues and looks forward to adding more to the growing team.  

Shanghai will serve as a vital catalyst for groundbreaking research, he added. “Not only is Shanghai an international city with the potential to attract talent from around the world, it’s also a hub of activity and innovation,” he said. “Shanghai is also home to a large population of Chinese and international migrants, which sets the stage to explore mechanisms underlying the health of migrant populations in an urban setting, and advance science to improve migrant health. Our new Center is well positioned to explore innovative solutions to population health challenges. We have a real opportunity to make an impact in Shanghai and then broaden those impacts across China and internationally.” With a number of populations within China and globally that have experienced inequalities in health, the new Center will focus on developing key evidence to inform policies, and interventions, to improve the health of these populations.  

“We're delighted that the new Center for Global Health Equity will highlight NYU Shanghai's growing strength in matters relating to public health and its social impact,” said Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen. “The Center joins a number of others at the university in transcending academic disciplines to bring together top researchers from around the world to share their work and collaborate on new scholarly directions.”

Hall, a regionally and internationally recognized expert in the field of Global Mental Health, arrived at NYU Shanghai in the fall of 2020 from the University of Macau. In addition to being a  faculty affiliate of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and New York University School of Global Public Health, he is also a regional technical advisor for the World Health Organization and a Commissioner for the Lancet Commission for Mental Health in China. 

“Our Center will focus on several key research themes including Global Mental Health; Implementation Science; Migration and Occupational Health; Urban and Environmental Health; and, Trauma and Adversity. We will also have four cross cutting themes that will shape the contours of this work including: Digital Health and Technology; Life Course Perspectives; Governance and Health Policy; and, Culture & Health. We will utilize multidisciplinary perspectives and approaches, including the application of mixed methods and data science.” Hall says. 

As demonstrated in the title, the new center will search for ways to promote a more equitable world when it comes to global health and this will be a critical goal. “In thinking about equitable distribution of health and ways that we influence intervention or policy or other frameworks to promote that health equity angle, I think [using the word equity is] incredibly important, and it makes our Center unique,” said Hall. “In global health and public health, we think of equity as being built into the definitions of these fields, but stated explicitly, it is a really important distinction.” The Center will leverage the strengths of a diverse team of researchers from across the NYU network and other external collaborations from leading public health institutions to create research synergies to advance health equity. 

Hall also emphasized the importance of students in the Center’s mission, “Our Center will also be the home to trainees at all levels - from undergraduate, postgraduate, to postdoctoral - who are interested in applying a health equity lens to improve population health and wellbeing. Throughout my career, I have always meaningfully integrated undergraduate and other trainees in the conduct of our research. I look forward to continuing this strong tradition, and working with other Center faculty to mentor trainees in the conduct of consequential research, and to provide the foundation for achieving their long term career ambitions, including attending graduate school, and tenure track professorships in public health and adjacent fields.”