Meet Professor Victor J. Dzau, Member of the Virchow Foundation for Global Health Council
Victor J. Dzau, MD is the President of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in the United States. In addition, he serves as Vice Chair of the National Research Council. Dr Dzau is Chancellor Emeritus and James B. Duke Professor of Medicine at Duke University and the past President and CEO of the Duke University Health System. Previously, Dr Dzau was the Hersey Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine and Chairman of Medicine at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), as well as Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Director of the Falk Cardiovascular Research Center at Stanford University. As a member of the Virchow Foundation for Global Health Council, Dr Dzau is motivated to help honour special achievements in global health towards elevating visibility of the field.
From your perspective, why is engagement and awareness raising for global health important?
Advancing global health requires collective action. Health threats, such as infectious disease crises, do not respect national borders. There is a need to respond effectively to global health threats – both urgent crises and ongoing health challenges. In addition, there is a rising challenge of increasing rates of NCDs and endemic infections (e.g., TB, HIV/AIDS).
Achieving global health and well-being is an important part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Individuals and governments have an important role to play. Stakeholders and decision-makers must act to promote the common good and renew their commitment to multilateralism and the multilateral system. Community engagement and trust is vital. Citizens can protect one another and demonstrate social and moral responsibility by acting in the best interests of all.
How are you committed to engaging in global health topics within your current professional role and activities?
From my childhood experience and life journey, beginning in post-war China, advancing global health and equity has always been a passion and commitment of mine.
Throughout my career, I have been active in numerous efforts to advance global health, including the founding of the Harvard BWH Division of Global Health Equity, the International Partnership in Innovation in Healthcare, the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, the Duke Global Health Institute, the Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, and the Duke Institute for Health Innovation, and the founding of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation.
In my current professional role, I engage in global health efforts in a number of ways, both in my capacity as President of the NAM and in my individual capacity. In both roles, I help shape and advise policies and initiatives that advance health globally.
At the National Academies, I helped design and launch the initiatives on Global Health Risk Framework; Global Health and Future Role of the US; Crossing the Global Quality Chasm and Human Genome Editing. I led the NAM’s response to COVID-19, which includes numerous committees, reports, consultations and communication on a range of issues including public health, vaccine allocation, health equity and mental health.
I have engaged with the global response to COVD-19 by providing leadership as a member of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, Co-chair of the G20 Scientific Expert Panel on Global Health Security, Advisor to the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing and a principal of the ACT-Accelerator which includes COVAX, the global collaboration for accelerating the development, manufacture and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
How do you hope to achieve greater awareness and engagement for global health in your new role at the Virchow Foundation for Global Health? How can the Virchow Prize for Global Health help to increase awareness?
I look forward to serving with my esteemed colleagues on the Virchow Foundation for Global Health Council to contribute to the improvement of health worldwide. The Council offers an important platform to work across sectors and regions to elevate global health and raise the visibility of the field. Furthermore, the Council oversees the Virchow Prize for Global Health which offers an important opportunity to recognize the special merits and achievements in the field of global health. The Prize is important to the field, since there is arguably no global health award or prize on the scale of other scientific and medical prizes, such as the Nobel Prize or the Lasker Awards. As a member of the Council, I look forward to championing this important effort.
Find out more on the Virchow Foundation for Global Health Council and its Members here: https://virchowprize.org/council/