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International Health

Sir George Alleyne 
Professor, Department of International Health

Sir George Alleyne has been a professor in the Department of International Health since stepping down as Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in 2003. Dean Al Sommer was then able to recruit him to the School, where he now teaches a course entitled, Case Studies in Management Decision-Making, and gives seminars in various courses during the year. In addition to his professorship, Dr. Alleyne is the Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, and the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.

Professor AlleyneDr. Alleyne’s first direct contact with Hopkins was over 30 years ago on a plane ride from Chaing Mai, Thailand, to Bangkok. On his return flight back from a nutrition conference, he was seated next to Professor Carl Taylor. During the course of their conversation, Dr. Taylor turned the focus to the merits of public health versus medicine. Ever the advocate, Taylor tried to convince Alleyne, who was then a Professor of Medicine at the University of the West Indies, to leave medicine for public health. Dr. Alleyne recalls being intrigued by Taylor’s arguments, but unconvinced. A couple years after their conversation, Alleyne became the Chair of his university’s Department of Medicine.

When he completed his tenure as Chairman of the Department of Medicine, Dr. Alleyne joined PAHO. He became its Chief of Research Promotion and Coordination, and in 1995 he was named Director of the entire organization. At PAHO, he began to form professional relationships with Hopkins researchers, including two deans of the School of Public Health, Henderson and Sommer. Dean Henderson served as chair of PAHO’s technical advisory committee on immunization, of which Alleyne was a member. And his work in nutrition connected him to Dean Sommer, who would eventually convince him to teach at Hopkins. While he doesn’t think Prof. Taylor’s arguments were directly responsible for his gradual transition from medicine to public health, he says he must admit that he came to appreciate Taylor’s viewpoint.

On top of his teaching responsibilities at Hopkins, Dr. Alleyne serves as the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. The Secretary General selected Alleyne not only for his expertise, but also for his influence with a wide array of organizations in the region. The scope of his work is multifaceted and includes

As Special Envoy, Dr. Alleyne has made great strides in involving faith-based communities in areas of HIV/AIDS care and support, and he has been able to highlight the problems caused by stigma and discrimination. He is particularly proud of his contribution to the Pan Caribbean Business Coalition, which works to reduce stigma and discrimination. Members of the coalition help make the workplace a locus for the reduction of stigma and discrimination, and they provide services to organizations who are working towards similar goals. 

Dr. Alleyne is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Caribbean Media Broadcasting Partnership (CMBP). This partnership works to reduce HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination in a variety of ways. The CMBP, inspired by the UN’s Global Media AIDS Initiative, creates a framework for broadcasters to share information and resources. Their goal is to expand HIV/AIDS-related programming and public education activities across the Caribbean. 

On the academic front, Dr. Alleyne has been Chancellor of the University of the West Indies since 2003. As Chancellor, he is head of the alumni association, leads formal ceremonies, and confers degrees. He is the first graduate of the University to be Chancellor, and he received his degree from the University’s first Chancellor, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone. 

Needless to say, Dr. Alleyne is an immeasurable resource at Hopkins and we are honored to have him.  He’s been a great mentor to many students with an interest in the Caribbean and Latin America. And he continues to enjoy helping students who want to work there. We might not owe his presence at the Bloomberg School of Public Health to Carl Taylor, but now any time the two want to discuss the relative merits of public health and medicine, they just need to meet each other half way down the hall.   

--Brandon Howard, March 2009