Clemente Diaz, MD

Dr. Clemente Diaz is Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Director of the Clinical Research Programs at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.  His primary interest is clinical research in the prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.  He is also interested in international collaborations in medical education and was a founding member of the agreement between the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and the "Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo " and the Robert Reid Cabral Children's Hospital in the Dominican Republic for exchange of pediatric residents through the University of Puerto Rico Children's Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit ( PICU).

Dr.Diaz is interested in improving and advancing children's health through research and innovations in medical education.  His published work deals primarily with the prevention of illness in children through vaccination.  He has participated in major clinical trials in vaccine research and in preventing HIV infection at birth through prenatal interventions in the mother and neonate.  Under Dr. Diaz's leadership, Puerto Rico has achieved a substantial reduction of infected infants born island wide.

Dr. Diaz is currently interested in expanding this successful campaign to other islands in the Caribbean. His efforts to improve the quality of critical care of children in the Dominican Republic has expanded over 5 years with yearly exchanges of faculty and residents aiming towards collaborations and technology transfers that would result in sustained improvements in the care and outcomes of children with urgent and critical care needs. 

Belinda Forbes, DMD

forbesDr. Belinda Forbes is a general dentist employed by the Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church and has lived and worked in Managua, Nicaragua since 1991. She collaborates directly with Accion Medica Cristiana (AMC or Christian Medical Action), a Nicaraguan faith-based non-governmental organization (NGO) specializing in community health and development in impoverished, rural communities, many of which are indigenous. AMC’s methods are empowerment-based, and specific strategies include clean water and sanitation, HIV and AIDS prevention, essential medicines, food security and disaster prevention and response. All of AMC’s efforts are designed to build local capacity and develop culturally appropriate, participatory health models. As AMC's International Liaison for Community Health, Dr. Forbes contributes to AMC’s achievements by coordinating a community-based, primary dental health program as well as interfacing with AMC’s international partner organizations.

Dr. Forbes’ experience in Nicaragua has shaped her expertise in the area of North-South partnerships between AMC and North American and European agencies, and among her responsibilities is to promote the multilateral South-South efforts within Nicaragua and the Central American Region which have led to AMC being recognized as one of Nicaragua’s top ten most successful NGOs. Dr. Forbes also represents GHETS in Nicaragua, Global Health through Education, Training and Services, based in Attleboro, MA and partner to an initiative in workers’ health and safety between a Nicaraguan union confederation and the Nicaraguan National Autonomous University in Leon.

Born in the United Kingdom, Dr. Forbes was raised in Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. degree in biology and Spanish from American International College in Springfield, MA, and a D.M.D. degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, MA. Before her career move to public health in Nicaragua, Dr. Forbes was in private dental practice in East Boston. Dr. Forbes is married to Gerardo Gutierrez, MD, Director of AMC's Community Health and Development Program. They live in Managua with their two daughters.

Visit AMC’s website at

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Miguel Angel González Block, PhD 

Miguel A. González Block graduated in biology and anthropology from Cambridge University and received his PhD in sociology from El Colegio de Mexico, arguably Mexico's finest postgraduate social science institution. Dr. González Block is currently Director of the Centre for Health Systems Research, National Institute of Public Health, the premier research and teaching centre of its kind in Latin America. Until December 2004 he was Manager of the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research within WHO's Evidence for Health Policy.  Dr. González Block dedicated 15 years to policy analysis and research at the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico and the Mexican Health Foundation. More recently he was Health Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, charged for sector loans and technical co-operation for the Bank's Region 2 countries (Mexico, Central America and Hispaniola). In addition to preparing, co-ordinating, and evaluating projects world-wide, Dr. Gonzalez-Block has published extensively on health sector reforms, decentralization, community participation and research capacity development.  Email:

Carrie Kovarik, MD

kovarikCarrie L. Kovarik, MD is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Dermatopathology, and Infectious Diseases at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kovarik has a special interest in tropical, infectious, and HIV-related dermatology.   She completed the Gorgas Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine in 2005 and obtained the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) Certificate of Knowledge in Clinical Tropical Medicine and Travelers’ Health in 2006.  Dr. Kovarik is the Head of Dermatology for the Botswana-UPenn Partnership and is the primary dermatology consultant for the Baylor International Pediatrics AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) in Africa. Dr. Kovarik has created an African teledermatology consult service ( which is a collaborative effort between BIPAI, the American Academy of Dermatology, twelve African countries, and several other institutions. Recently, the teledermatology website has been translated into Spanish, and programs are underway to expand teledermatology services in Mexico and Central America.  Dr. Kovarik has started an initiative in global health in dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, and she is the Director of the Penn Dermatology Global Health Program.  Email:

Steve Larson, MD, Assistant Dean, The Center for Global Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

larsonDr. Steven Larson is the Assistant Dean for The Center for Global Health and an Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He received his BA in Fine Arts from Haverford College and his MD from the University of Pennsylvania.  Since 1992 he has served as a faculty member in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  Over the past 20 years, Dr. Larson has developed an extensive working knowledge of the health care issues facing immigrant populations in the United States, as well as underserved populations globally.

Since 1988 Dr. Larson has immersed himself in the history of Central America and examined the impact of politics, geography, economics and religion on health care. He visits frequently and has many personal and professional contacts throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador.  In 1993, Dr. Larson established Frontline Medicine at Penn to help students and residents explore the complex issues facing underserved populations. In 1999, with the goal of collaborating with other medical educators nationwide committed to global health, Dr. Larson joined IHMEC, the International Health Medical Education Consortium (now GHEC). In 2000, he was elected to its Governing Council. Through this relationship, over the past 10 years Dr Larson has been able to identify an expanded range of clinical and research opportunities for Penn medical students. Dr. Larson also serves as the faculty advisor for the student-run Global Health Interest Group.

From 1993-2006, Dr Larson served as the volunteer medical consultant for Project Salud, a nurse-managed migrant health clinic located in rural, southern Chester County providing health care to the predominantly Mexican labor force employed in the local agricultural industry. In 1994, Dr Larson created an elective course on immigrant health for medical and nursing students. In 2002, recognizing the rapid growth of an urbanized, undocumented Latino population, Dr Larson founded Puentes de Salud, a community partnership dedicated to the health and wellness of this immigrant population through direct service and action focused on social determinants of health. To date, Puentes de Salud has drawn more than 225 student and faculty volunteers broadly from across the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, as well as Jefferson Medical College, Drexel Medical School, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Puentes de Salud has formed strategic partnerships with the University of Pennsylvania, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Women and Children's Health Services, the city of Philadelphia, the Mexican Consulate, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It serves as a community-based platform for partnership with concerned local groups and stakeholders as well as a "training ground" for the next generation of health care providers and educators.

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Jack Ludmir, MD, Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pennsylvania Hospital; Vice Chair & Director of Obstetric Serives at HUP

ludmirJack Ludmir, M.D. is Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Pennsylvania Hospital and Vice Chair and Director of Obstetric Services at the Hospitalof the University of Pennsylvania. He pursued his training in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and for the last 25 years has been faculty at Harvard and Penn medical schools.  He was the Director of the City of Philadelphia Task force for obstetric care for the uninsured and undocumented and is one of the founders of Puentes de Salud. He represents the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in assessing the quality of care of obstetric services and residency programs in Latin America and has established formal relationships with several universities in Central and South America.


Neal Nathanson, MD, Associate Dean, The Center for Global Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

nnDr. Neal Nathanson is the Associate Dean for The Center for Global Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Among his special interests are the epidemiology and eradication of poliomyelitis, the control of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the development of an AIDS vaccine.  He currently serves on a number of national and international panels that guide research and policies in these areas.  Also, he is active in national organizations that guide education and training in global health.

Shortly before agreeing to head The Center for Global Health in late 2003, Dr. Nathanson had retired as Vice Provost for Research at the University of Pennsylvania where he served from December, 2000 and was responsible for oversight of the whole research enterprise of the entire University.  From July, 1998 to September, 2000, Dr. Nathanson served as Director of the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) at the National Institutes of Health responsible for coordinating the scientific, budgetary, legislative, and policy components of the NIH AIDS research programs, as well as for promoting collaborative research activities in domestic and international settings.

Dr. Nathanson was educated at Harvard University where he received both a BS and an MD degree, followed by clinical training in internal medicine at the University of Chicago and postdoctoral training in virology at the Johns Hopkins University. Early in his career, Dr. Nathanson spent two years at the Centers for Disease Control, where he headed the Poliomyelitis Surveillance Unit. Later he joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health, where he became Professor and head of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Epidemiology. He then moved to the University of Pennsylvania where he chaired the Department of Microbiology for 15 years, finally serving for two years as Vice Dean for Research and Research Training. Dr. Nathanson is particularly known for his contributions to the field of viral pathogenesis, having edited the definitive text on this subject. He has also made significant contributions to the epidemiology of viral diseases.

David Spiegel, MD, CHOP (WHO)

spiegelDr. David Spiegel attended Duke University for college, medical school, and orthopaedic surgical residency.  He then completed both a research and clinical fellowship in pediatric orthopaedics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  He works as a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  Dr. Spiegel serves as a Consultant in Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at the Hospital & Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children in Banepa, Nepal.  He currently serves as Chairman of the Committee in Children's Orthopaedics in Underdeveloped Regions of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, and is on the Board of Orthopaedics Overseas, Global-HELP, and the Ponseti International Association.  He has received two humanitarian awards, the President's Call to Service Award (2006), by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation, for 4000 hours of community service, and the Golden Apple Award by Health Volunteers Overseas (2009).  Dr. Spiegel has served as a consultant for the World Health Organization, is on the steering committee for the Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care, and is a member of the Burden of Surgical Diseases Working Group.  Email:

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