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BGU President Inspires the Next Generation of Women in Global Health

BGU President Inspires the Next Generation of Women in Global Health

January 25, 2012

Medical Research, Negev Development & Community Programs

BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi, M.D., recently spoke to a packed room of medical students at the Medical School for International Health (MSIH) in Beer-Sheva. The English-language medical school attracts students from all over the globe.

Invited by the MSIH student council, Prof. Carmi presented “A Woman in Medicine, A Woman Dean, a Woman President: How to Break Through the Glass Ceiling Without Getting Cut.”

As the first woman to be appointed president of an Israeli university, Prof. Carmi is part of a small but growing cadre of women who have become leaders of educational institutions.

In the past 25 years, the percentage of women who are college presidents in the United States rose from 10 percent to nearly 23 percent. But there is still room for improvement: according to Forbes magazine, women make up nearly 75 percent of the United States teaching force, yet only 32 percent are tenured professors in higher education.

Prof. Carmi, a graduate of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical School, has published over 100 abstracts on medical genetics, focusing much of her research on genetic diseases in the Negev’s Arab-Bedouin population. This research includes the identification of 12 new genes and of 3 new syndromes, one of which is known as the Carmi syndrome. Her community projects were aimed at preventing hereditary diseases in the Bedouin community.

Prof. Carmi’s research, which began over 30 years ago, is continued by several faculty members at BGU, since her being named dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at BGU in 2000, and then president of BGU in 2006. First- and second-year medical students at MSIH spend one day a week working with Bedouins via a mobile health clinic to deliver care.

Founded in 1996 when Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Columbia University Medical Center joined forces, the Medical School for International Health has graduated over 330 doctors, more than 55 percent of them women. After completing residency training, alumni are expected to make significant contributions to global health through clinical work, policy development and medical education.

Narissa Puran, a graduate of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University with a degree in Biomolecular Science, was inspired by the lecture.

“As a future physician, I hope to work in local communities to help empower women, especially to pursue higher education. Prof. Carmi believes that it is our responsibility as women to make a conscious effort to balance our lifestyles enough so that we can achieve both our career and personal goals.

“I hope to help women achieve more for themselves and their children, which will improve their family’s health outcomes.”