Global Health

boy with toothbrushDental disease is the most prevalent condition worldwide, and developing health systems are evolving to meet the oral health needs of their populations through infrastructural changes and workforce development.

HSDM faculty and students in the Office of Global and Community Health have collaborated with organizations and governments worldwide to reduce the global burden of dental disease. Recent projects have taken members of the HSDM community to Ecuador, Haiti, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kuwait, Rwanda, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries, and led to increased teaching resources for global health within Harvard.

Global and Community Health Celebrates World Oral Health Day!

Current Global Health Projects


The Harvard China Fund recently awarded HSDM with a $50,000 grant to hold a conference at the Harvard Shanghai Center entitled Improving Population Health through Oral Health in China: Strengthening the Oral Health Delivery System and Building Workforce Capacity through Innovative Strategies in Education, Care and Research. Associate Dean Jane Barrow of The Office of Global and Community Health collaborated with PI’s Drs. Sang Park (Dental Education) and Christine Riedy Murphy (Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology) on the submission. The conference was held in October of 2018.

Costa Rica

Dr. Brittany Seymour (Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology) is leading The Global Health Learning Helix, inspired by the concept of a spiral curriculum, consists of two strands of learning- didactic and experiential field-based learning- tied together by common competencies that form the Helix backbone. This longitudinal model was co-developed with our partner site, Inter American Center for Global Health (CISG) and Costa Rican communities served by CISG, who recently hosted HSDM students for experiential global health learning. Following the global health didactic components taught in the HSDM course Principles of Oral Health, the first HSDM students from the Class of 2020 (David Danesh, Ryan Lisann and Kristin Sweeney) took the experiential learning course in Costa Rica during March 2018. Competencies taught in both the didactic and experiential learning components include interdisciplinary collaboration, community partnership, social determinants of health, common risk factors and burden of disease, population health and prevention, and integration of oral health and primary care. This project is supported by the Abundance Foundation.


Yianni Ellenikiotis, DMD17, has been part of this ongoing research project where students partner with an Ecuadorian dental and public health school and reach out to mountainous communities and see children from 6 months to 15 years of age. They survey parents, screen for severe childhood caries, provide oral health and nutrition education, and apply fluoride varnish. The direct immersion into the Ecuadorian culture leads to a truly meaningful and enriching experience where students are able to learn from the people and communities they interact with on a daily basis.


Drs. Mary Tavares and Hend Alqaderi of the department Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology are collaborating on research in Kuwait entitled, “The Kuwait Healthy Lifestyle Study.” This is a longitudinal study focusing on data from over 8,000 Kuwaiti children across the six governorates of Kuwait. The study looks at correlation among sugar sweetened drinks, obesity, caries, and sleep patterns.


Harvard School of Dental Medicine is involved in a unique program in global health dentistry collaborating with the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and the National University of Rwanda on an innovative project to develop a bachelor of dental surgery program in Rwanda—part of the extensive Rwanda Human Resources for Health Scale Up (HRH) Program.

The HRH Program is a novel and potentially transformative health care workforce capacity-building initiative developed by the Government of Rwanda and funded by the US Government. The overarching aim of this eight-year program is to build a comprehensive, high-quality, and sustainable health care system in Rwanda by strengthening the health workforce education system and promoting the education and career development of the country's health workforce. To achieve this goal, the Government of Rwanda has convened a consortium of 23 US partner academic institutions (including Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Boston Children's Hospital) engaged in the areas of medicine, nursing and midwifery, dentistry, and public health. Each of the participating US-based institutions in this program is asked to recruit and deploy clinical faculty according to the school's identified specialty and sub-specialty areas of interest. The Rwanda HRH Program proposes a structured plan for the complete transition of health workforce education from the academic consortium to Rwandan faculty and health care personnel within eight years as a result of the projected increase in the number of health care professionals and a projected increase in government health-sector spending.

For more information about this project, click here. 


In January 2018, Associate Dean Jane Barrow and Drs. Brittany Seymour, Tien Ha-Ngoc Jiang, Jarshen Lin, and Donna Hackley travelled to the University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City as part of a research project titled, "Vietnam Health Advancement Initiative: Competency-based Dental Education." HSDM is in the midst of negotiating an MOU to continue this work.

Global Health Starter Kit

The Harvard School of Dental Medicine Office of Global and Community Health is proud to announce the launch the Global Health Starter Kit, a competency-based global health ‘starter’ curriculum designed for dental educators and students. This new curriculum includes comprehensive materials for educators and instructors, as well as materials for students and those who are interested in self-guided learning. The program was pioneered by Dr. Brittany Seymour and the Global Oral Health Interest Group of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), and received support from the Consortium of Universities for Global Health Dr. Thomas Hall Global Health Education Grant Program, The International College of Dentists USA Section Foundation, and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine Offices of Global and Community Health and Communications.

Co-edited by Brittany Seymour, Janice Cho, and Jane Barrow,  and authored by a team of global health experts, the Global Health Starter Kit features five modules: “Global Trends”, “Global Goals”, “Back to Basics- Primary Care”, “Social Determinants and Risks”, and “Ethics and Sustainability.” The kit aims to provide practical support specifically for dental educators who are working toward unified competency-based standards and equipping the future generation of dental professionals with “starting” tools to address the tremendous burden of oral diseases worldwide and their consequences. This curriculum is free and available for anyone to use. Click here to access the Starter Kit!

Historic Global Health Efforts

HSDM China Delegation

In the 1980s, the late Walter Guralnick, DMD41, led a group of HSDM dentists and oral surgeons on a teaching tour of China, becoming the first delegation of American dentists invited under new exchange programs. Learn more about the historic delegation and the impact of this collaboration in an interview with Dr. Walter Guralnick.