The National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine made another step forward in its ongoing development for state of the art education programs with the launch of the Diploma in Tropical Medicine Course Friday, June 1.

Established last year and led by Dr. Peter Hotez, a renowned expert in tropical diseases, the school is the first national school of tropical medicine in the United States committed to addressing diseases of poverty by developing solutions against the world's most pressing tropical disease issues globally. It will tackle this challenge on the policy, clinical, research and educational fronts.

First class

Forty-two health care professionals enrolled in the diploma course, which marks the school's first educational program. The 8-week diploma consists of four modules that are each two weeks long. Trainees will then have the opportunity of pursuing additional international field experience, which would qualify them for the certification exam offered by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The Inaugural Lecture of the Diploma in Tropical Medicine Course was held to commemorate the launch of the program. Hotez and other leaders from BCM and the National School of Tropical Medicine welcomed the diploma participants and lauded their commitment to improving health care for the world's poorest people.

Realization of a dream

Hotez said development of a U.S. school of tropical medicine has been his dream for many years, and he called the launch of the Diploma in Tropical Medicine Course "a day I won't soon forget."

"I wish the inaugural students all the best, and I know that you will have a meaningful impact on eradicating poverty and reducing disease around the world," said Dr. Bobby Kapur, director of BCM's Center for Globalization and assistant professor of medicine – emergency medicine.

"The diploma is a learning treasure that will follow you wherever you go in your careers," said Dr. Laila Woc-Colburn, director of medical education for the National School of Tropical Medicine at BCM and assistant professor of medicine – infectious diseases at BCM. "The things you learn will help you be better and more caring physicians."

Course modules

The diploma course will soon be expanded to include other health care professionals in addition to physicians. It will be held twice each year.

The modules for the program include:

  • Parasites
  • Bacteria
  • Tropical bacteria and viruses
  • Clinical and traveler's health
  • Epidemiology, public health and health metrics
  • Nutrition and maternal and child health

Health care professionals who complete the course are able to address and treat neglected tropical diseases, providing them with an added benefit to their daily practice.

Dr. Alfredo F. J. Dajer, rector at the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan delivered the inaugural lecture. Earlier in the day, a memorandum of understanding between the Yucatan university and Baylor College of Medicine was signed.