Former WHO director general Margaret Chan appointed at Tsinghua

Chan will head new public health school at China's top-ranked university in the midst of coronavirus pandemic

April 3, 2020
Source: Tsinghua University
Margaret Chan speaking in Beijing in 2019

Margaret Chan, the former director general of the World Health Organisation, has been appointed the inaugural dean of the Vanke School of Public Health at Tsinghua University, which announced detailed plans for the new school on 2 April.

Speaking in Mandarin, on a video on Tsinghua’s Twitter feed, she said that the Vanke School would be a “rising star in the night of the pandemic”.

China’s Ministry of Education has called on the country’s top universities to be more proactive in finding a vaccine or treatments for Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, which was first reported in China and has infected more than 900,000 people worldwide.

Dr Chan has deep experience in managing epidemic disease. She served as the Hong Kong director of health from 1994 to 2003, a period that included the 1997 H5N1 avian influenza and the 2003 Sars epidemic. She joined the WHO that year, and then led the world body from 2006 to 2017, as Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ immediate predecessor.

Tsinghua said the school “will adopt new models of interdisciplinary cooperation and education”. Its focus will be on research and graduate education in four fields: preventative medicine; comprehensive healthcare; big data in healthcare; and public health policy and management.

The school, which has received funding from the property developer China Vanke, would work “in close cooperation” with the WHO.

No opening date has been announced, although Tsinghua said that the school would “provide support to China’s epidemic control, vaccine development and decisive thinktanks related to major public health policymaking” over the next five to 10 years. 

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