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Global Health Competition connects students to CDC

The students who win the USC Global Health Case Competition will get a trip to Atlanta, where their team will tour CDC headquarters. (Photo/Larissa Puro)

Back for its second year, the USC Global Health Case Competition, which brings together teams of students from all disciplines to tackle a real-world global health challenge, was held on Feb. 15.

The event involved more than 130 undergraduate and graduate students from 11 USC schools.

This year, the USC Institute for Global Health partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to write the case, which, in the midst of an unusually harsh flu season, proved timely and relevant.

The competition asked students to propose realistic and innovative solutions to the particular case before a panel of experts.

On Feb. 11, students received the case, which revealed that their teams had been “selected” as consultants for the CDC Influenza Division to design and present strategic plans to increase global vaccine supply and use in low- and middle-income countries.

Each of the 25 teams presented their cases to USC faculty and professional judges at noon, but only three made it to the final round that evening. The final round began with a twist in the case, which equired the teams to quickly reevaluate and adjust their presentations.

Representatives from the USC Institute for Global Health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, California Department of Public Health, CDC and the U.S. Public Health Service judged the final round.

The winning team will represent USC at the International Emory University Global Health Case Competition in Atlanta next month for a chance to win $6,000.

Last year, the USC team — which was comprised of all undergraduates — received an honorable mention at the Emory competition after competing against 22 graduate student teams.

“They wowed the judges,” said Jeffrey Koplan, Emory Global Health Institute director and former director of the CDC.

Peter Eskander, an undergraduate with a double major in theater and disease prevention who is competing for the second year in a row, said this year’s competition “was the best experience I’ve had in college thus far.”

“Working with such a talented and diverse group of students made me realize what it means to use teamwork to accomplish anything.”

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