College of Public Health to collaborate with Gifu University in Japan

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The USF College of Public Health’s Dean Donna Petersen visited with faculty and leadership of Gifu University in Japan to engage in a signing ceremony finalizing an agreement for an expanded partnership.

The original partnership with Gifu began in the 1980s and the latest agreement is expected to promote international exchanges and research exchanges, according to Petersen.

“This collaboration promotes a focus on students, student exchange, opportunities for their students to come here, and opportunities for our students to go abroad,” Petersen said.

The School of Medicine and the Health Administration Center of Gifu University signed a general agreement for collaboration with the COPH on Oct. 20.

Petersen Gifu University

Dean Petersen (right) meets with Dean and Professor/Chairman of the Department of Cardiology at Gifu University, Dr. Shinya Minatoguchi, meet to sign the formal agreement at the School of Medicine. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Donna Petersen)

“Public health in education in Japan is a new and growing interest there,” Petersen said. “There are only three schools of public health in the country right now and they are all pretty new. That’s exciting because we’ve just redone all the criteria for accreditation in the U.S. and Gifu is looking to start an MPH program under the new criteria.”

Jesse Casanova, international programs coordinator at the COPH, said he looks forward to the opportunities students will have as a result of the new partnership.

“The agreement between USF and Gifu really helps to broaden our potential for collaboration in research and field based studies at Gifu, which is at the forefront of research in universities in Japan,” he said. “Gifu is also well connected to the local communities and can serve as a bridge between our USF population and communities in Japan.”

He said students will have the opportunities to do their research or field experience with Gifu faculty.

“I am most excited to see what new areas of research will develop as a result of this new partnership, and the growing number of students that will be able to travel to Japan to practice their passion for global health,” he said.

Dr. Mayumi Yamamoto, professor and director of the Health Administration Center at Gifu, completed a post-doctoral program at USF and was instrumental in the agreement process, according to Petersen.

Yamamoto manages an educational program in public health at Gifu, and provides health care for all of the university’s faculty and students on campus.

Petersen Gifu University 2

(Front row, from left): Dr. Mayumi Yamamoto, professor and director of the Health Administration Center at Gifu, Dr. Shinya Minatoguchi, dean and professor/chairman of the Department of Cardiology at Gifu, Dr. Donna Petersen, dean of the College of Public Health, and Dr. Petersen’s husband, Terry Noonan. (Back row): Faculty and senior leadership at Gifu University.

Petersen said collaboration with the Health Administration Center will provide new experiences for COPH students.

“They collect all the data on the health of the students and faculty on the campus. So it’s a unique learning and research experience for our students. We don’t do anything like that here,” she said.

Dr. Lynette Menezes, assistant vice president of USF Health International, agrees that students will have a vast array of new opportunities as a result of the collaboration.

“Gifu University’s many programs offer public health students a unique opportunity to experience the Japanese health system and explore a different culture. As the collaboration grows, I see the potential for interdisciplinary efforts across USF Health colleges involving faculty and student exchanges, research and training,” she said.

The expanded partnership will continue for many years to come, according to Petersen.

“They were incredibly gracious hosts and that speaks a lot about the potential for this program. They were very excited,” Petersen said. “It’s not a large university, it’s smaller, but fierce and they are driven to excel.”


Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health