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Universities Allied for Essential Medicines

Progress to Date

At Penn, we have attempted to spark dialogue on the issues we care about by reaching out to students, faculty and administrators. Our short-term goal is to build a constituency to ensure that our policy proposals are discussed, debated, and considered by key decisionmakers at the University. Our long-term goal is to get those proposals adopted.

Engaging Students

The Penn UAEM group began at the School of Medicine, and has now expanded to include undergraduates, nursing students, business students, and law students. We have weekly meetings to discuss progress of our policy and programming activities. We take very seriously the idea that we must educate ourselves on the complex issues we are trying to address before persuading others to sign on to our policy proposals.

To this end, the Penn group attended a teach-in put on by the international UAEM organization in October of 2005 at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. We have also attempted to put together a set of resources, the UAEM Member Handbook, to facilitate the self-study that we consider prerequisite to working with the group.

Penn UAEM put on a teach-in of our own on January 21, 2006, to reach out to other students across campus. The session was attended by over 30 students from the different schools on campus. Presentations from that teach-in are available on the following topics:

The Role of Universities in Improving Access to Medicines
The Access Gap and the Equitable Access License
The Research Gap and Neglected-Disease Proposals
UAEM at Penn

In early April 2006, Penn UAEM presented a poster at the national American Medical Students Association (AMSA) conference in Chicago.

Finally, we are also trying to raise awareness of our initiatives by discussing our proposals within representative student organizations. Thus far, the Medical Student Government (MSG), the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA), and the Undergraduate Assembly (UA) have passed resolutions in support of our activities. As an example, the UA resolution that was passed is included here.

A similar resolution was also passed by the Penn Bioethics Society.

Engaging Faculty

Our group has been equally enthusiastic in speaking with faculty members about the access and research gaps. We have attempted to hone our own understanding of the issues – and thereby our policy proposals – by meeting with both biomedical researchers and experts in the field of ethics, law, and business. Many of the faculty members we have spoken with support our efforts. For example, the following professors have signed a letter (sample letter here) to the administration at Penn calling for greater attention to be paid to access and neglected-disease issues:

Dr. Art Caplan | Director, Center for Bioethics
Dr. Garret FitzGerald | Chair, Department of Pharmacology and Director, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics
Dr. James Hoxie | Director, Penn Center for AIDS Research
Dr. Robert Doms | Chair, Department of Microbiology
Dr. Mark Greene | John Eckman Professor of Medical Sciences
Dr. Gary Koretzky | Leonard Jarett Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Dr. David Roos | Merriam Professor of Biology and Director, Genomics Institute
Dr. Fred Frankel | Professor of Microbiology
Dr. Martin Carroll | Assistant Professor of Medicine
Dr. Yvonne Paterson | Professor of Microbiology

Our faculty advisors also include Dr. Brian Strom (Director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics) and Dr. Afaf Meleis (Dean of the School of Nursing).

Engaging Administrators

In March, representatives from UAEM met with key administrators and faculty to initiate a dialogue on how Penn can play a role in closing the access and research gaps.

On May 3rd, UAEM representatives gave a brief presentation to the University Council to suggest changes to the mission statement of the Center for Technology Transfer's (CTT) that would better reflect Penn's avowed commitment to global engagement by stating that CTT's mission is "primarily, to improve global human welfare through technology transfer.'
University of Pennsylvania | School of Medicine