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Rediscovering Global Health

Rediscovering Global Health

A Navy Doctor Shifts His Career Path


When Robert Allison, MD, MPH, enrolled in the School’s General Preventive Medicine Residency Program (GPMRP) in 2012, he arrived with a career blueprint. After completing the two-year training program, the former Naval medical officer planned to move on to a research position in clinical quality at an academic medical center.

It wasn’t long, however, before Allison rediscovered his passion for global health—the focus of his MPH studies.

“When you’re at this school it’s next to impossible not to get exposed to the very strong global health program,” said Allison, who’s now headed for a career in infectious disease surveillance and immunization.

Through the GPMRP, Allison was a guest researcher in viral hepatitis at the CDC, and consulted on vaccine development and immunization with WHO in southeast Asia.

Now, he’s evaluating a novel hepatitis B drug and studying the global epidemiology of respiratory viruses at the biopharmaceutical company MedImmune as part of a new collaboration between the company and GPMRP.

For Allison, the MedImmune placement is an opportunity better understand the role of the biopharm industry in the global health.

“You need partnerships with suppliers of the vaccines who are responding to the customer’s needs with innovation, and designing new strategies for vaccine deliveries and more efficient vaccines,” said Allison, who has been offered a position based in Cairo with WHO to help the Eastern Mediterranean Region meet hepatitis B control goals.

Long-term, Allison hopes to play a role in eliminating viral hepatitis worldwide.

“You could probably come up with a hundred reasons why it can’t be done,” he said, “but you have to have vision.”