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Global Initiatives

Strategic Partnerships & Business Development

Donald “DJ” Thayer, MBA, c. 2013

Courtesy of the UNMC Office of Global Engagement

Mr. Thayer, director of international & domestic business affairs, oversees business partnerships in China that focus on improving international collaborations, sharing knowledge, and commercializing UNMC innovations in the vast Chinese marketplace that thrives in the world’s second largest economy.

Partnering with China

UNMC's partnerships with China have resulted in significant collaborations in education, exchange, research, and clinical care.


Established in 2005, the Asia Pacific Rim Development Program (APRDP), now part of the Office of Global Engagement (OGE), strives to increase UNMC’s research scope and efficiency, provide meaningful exchange programs for faculty and students, and foster friendships and cultural understanding, ultimately improving health education, care, and science in China, the U.S., and worldwide. To date, more than 900 visitors have participated in various collaboration and exchange programs through UNMC’s APRDP.


UNMC’s education and exchange programs include opportunities for Chinese students, faculty, and researchers to study in Omaha while UNMC students, faculty, and researchers study in China. In 2004, UNMC established a research partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which led to the creation of a Joint Research Center in 2007. Through this center, an annual Joint Research Symposium was held in Beijing, Shanghai, and Omaha alternately, and topics have included cancer research, inflammation and disease, and international biomedical research.


UNMC Partners with China Pharmaceutical University, 2016

Courtesy of the UNMC Office of Global Engagement

In 2016, Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Maode Lai, MD, president of the China Pharmaceutical University (CPU), furthering UNMC’s opportunities for exchange with China.

Joint Research Symposium, 2016

Courtesy of the UNMC Office of Global Engagement

The 2016 topic was “Drug Discovery and Delivery.” Various collaborative projects have been established based on these symposia.



National Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance, 2021

Courtesy of the International Foundation Against Infectious Disease in Nigeria (IFAIN), photographed by Dr. Theresa Ajose, IFAIN program administrator

From January 25 to 29, 2021, IFAIN staff, under the leadership of Nubwa Medugu, MD, and Grace Olanipekun, MPH, provided training on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) laboratory methods to medical laboratory scientists from national AMR Surveillance sites. Pictured are Joy Chioma Richard, medical laboratory scientist, IFAIN (middle) and two trainee participants.


International Foundation Against Infectious Disease in Nigeria

The International Foundation Against Infectious Disease in Nigeria (IFAIN) is committed to improving the quality of children’s lives in Nigeria and the rest of the world by reducing the burden of infectious and related diseases.


IFAIN is a non-government, non-profit organization that was registered in Nigeria in 2012. Through Stephen Obaro, MD, PhD, in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, UNMC has worked closely with IFAIN in conducting research to improve the health of children.


Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and has one of the highest under-five mortality rates in the world. Recent studies have established that invasive bacteria are the leading cause of childhood mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa and that most of these infections are preventable from routine vaccination or proper primary care.


IFAIN was established to facilitate the generation of a credible surveillance system for the determination of the causes of bacterium syndromes and opportunistic infections in the general population of Nigerian children. Data is used to develop new tests and vaccines as well as to monitor the impact of medical interventions. One focus is the cause of disease in vulnerable populations, such as children who suffer from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), sickle cell disease (SCD), and malnutrition.




Stephen Obaro, MD, PhD, 2019

Courtesy of UNMC Department of Strategic Communications

Dr. Obaro is a professor of pediatrics, director of the International Pediatric Research Program, and adjunct professor with the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at UNMC.

University of Nebraska One Health Research Initiative in Rwanda

Colleagues across the University of Nebraska System partnered with scholars, non-governmental organizations, and institutions in Rwanda to better track and share research.


Stephen Obaro, MD, PhD, of the UNMC Department of Pediatrics along with colleagues Mary Hallin, PhD, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Elizabeth VanWormer, PhD, DVM, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received a 2020-2021 NU Collaboration Initiative Planning Grant supporting the One Health Research Initiative. The goal of the project was to develop a collaborative platform for One Health activities and programs that included scholars across Nebraska campuses and partners in Rwanda. The project identified University of Nebraska research being conducted in Rwanda and developed an accessible online database of those existing projects. This database facilitated collaborations and aligned multidisciplinary teams with extramural funding opportunities.


The planning grant supported engagement of local communities in Rwanda on One Health activities and strengthened partner collaborations. This program also initiated development of a University of Nebraska collaborative engagement model with scholars, non-governmental organizations, and institutions in Rwanda. The project team consisted of faculty and staff from the UNMC College of Public Health and the Department of Pediatrics, including Abbie Raikes, PhD, Victoria Nakibuuka-Muli, MPA, MPH, Nick Kocmich, MPH, and Amy Rezac-Elgohary, MA.




Tree of Unity, 2020

Courtesy of Victoria Nakibuuka-Muli, MPA, MPH, global education and research programs administrator, UNMC Department of Pediatrics

UNMC faculty planted a Tree of Unity at UGHE to signify the partnership between the two institutions. Pictured left to right: Jane Meza, PhD (UNMC), Jocelyn Herstein, PhD, MPH (UGHE), Dele Davies, MD (UNMC), Kelly Carvazegie, MD (UNMC), Abebe Bekele, MD (Dean, UGHE), Victoria Nakibuuka-Muli, MPA, MPH (UNMC), John Lowe, PhD (UNMC), and a UGHE employee.


University of Global Health Equity, Kigali, Rwanda

The Office of Global Engagement, along with programs at UNMC and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), have previously worked in growing relationships with the University of Rwanda and the University of Global Heath Equity (UGHE). UNMC’s Department of Anesthesiology had a long-standing program to send students and physicians to Gitwe. The last program was completed in 2020.


UNMC’s Department of Pediatrics established a research site in Rwanda in 2017 to support the Community-Acquired Blood Stream Infections in Rwanda (CABSiR) Project. In recent years, UNMC’s College of Public Health has collaborated with UNL’s program to provide training in Agricultural Safety to Rwandan agricultural farm advisors. In 2019, Dele Davies, MD, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, was appointed to an advisory board at the UGHE in Rwanda. The mission of the UGHE is “to radically change the way health care is delivered around the world by training generations of global health professionals who strive to deliver more equitable quality health services for all.”


Research Access Support, 2019

Courtesy of Emily Glenn, MSLS, associate dean, UNMC McGoogan Health Sciences Library

In 2019 and 2020, Emily Glenn, MSLS, associate dean of McGoogan Health Sciences Library, received a grant to provide instruction to faculty, students, and librarians at the University of Gitwe on using Hinari and Research4Life for medical research.

H. Dele Davies, MD, c. 2019

Courtesy of the UNMC Department of Strategic Communications

Dr. Davies, UNMC’s senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies, was appointed to the Dean’s Advisory Council at the UGHE in 2019.



Partnering with Oman

UNMC’s partnership with the Sultanate of Oman is a long-standing one in which the College of Nursing, College of Medicine, and the College of Public Health have all participated.


UNMC and Omani health care students and practitioners have studied and worked together both at UNMC and in Oman at Sultan Qaboos University and within the Ministry of Health. Recently, an agreement with the Oman Medical Specialty Board (OMSB) was renewed and will continue to expand UNMC’s collaboration with the health sector in Oman. Under the initial agreement, signed in 2014, primarily fellows were accepted into programs at UNMC. The scope of the program under a renewed agreement has expanded to include a wide variety of training opportunities in the health sciences. For example, the OMSB has already requested that Omani students be admitted to degree programs in perfusion and advanced training in catheter lab technology, both in the College of Allied Health Professions.



UNMC Students and Faculty in Xalapa, Mexico, c. 2019

Courtesy of the UNMC Office of Global Engagement

In June 2019, UNMC students in the inaugural Medical Spanish and Global Health Course in Xalapa, Mexico, visited the Mayan Ruins with their tour guide.

Anahuac University, Xalapa, Mexico

Since 2016, the Office of Global Engagement has grown UNMC’s partnership with the Anahuac University in Xalapa, Mexico.


UNMC’s partnership with Anahuac University was initiated in 2016 by the College of Public Health and has been expanded under the initiative and coordination of the Office of Global Engagement (OGE). These collaborations between Anahuac University and OGE include implementation of Medical Spanish courses; development of a research incubator program with the College of Public Health and the Mexican Consulate in Omaha; provision of cybersecurity consulting services by the Univeristy of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) College of Information Sciences and Technology to the Port of Veracruz, a partner with Anahuac; and design and implementation of a leadership training course by the UNO English Training program. A group of 20 academic fellows from the UNO College of Business Administration were scheduled to visit Anahuac in the summer of 2020 but were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.




The Africa Summit, c. 2018

Courtesy of the UNMC Department of Strategic Communications

More than 115 faculty, administrators, and students attended the first summit in 2018. After the summit, NU Central Administration set aside $20,000 for multi-campus research collaborations and $10,000 for development of courses dedicated to Africa.

Africa Summits


In 2018, the Office of Global Engagement, along with UNMC’s H. Dele Davies, MD, senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, and the University of Nebraska Central Administration, teamed up to host two Africa Summits. These gatherings provided opportunities for collaboration among faculty, staff, and graduate students across the four University of Nebraska campuses with interest in any country or region of Africa related to research, teaching, or other forms of engagement with individuals, educational institutions, governments, or the private sector.


Both Africa Summits consisted of keynote speakers and numerous panels and presenters. The panels focused on various subjects including health sciences, agriculture and the environment, arts, humanities, business, and the social sciences. Presenters included UNMC’s James Lawler, MD, director of international programs and innovation at the Global Center for Health Security, and Stephen Obaro, MD, PhD, director of pediatric international research, as well as faculty from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.