“Global health requires a long-term commitment and an ability to deal with failures. So, one would need lots of optimism, passion for the field, and the perseverance to stay the course.”
Madhukar Pai MD, PhD ’04 is currently a professor of epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal, where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology & Global Health. He serves as the director of Global Health Programs, associate director of the McGill International TB Centre, and a consultant for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As an expert on diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, he serves on the STAG-TB committee of WHO, Geneva, Scientific Advisory Committee of FIND, Geneva, and Access Advisory Committee of TB Alliance, New York. He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
My wife (Nitika Pai) and I left India to reach Berkeley in the fall of 2000. The first time we walked up the Berkeley campus was our ‘Berkeley moment’! It was a beautiful, sunny yet foggy day, and the whole campus looked like a magical temple of learning. We pinched each other and thanked all the gods (and Art Reingold!) for the amazing opportunity we got! We still remain grateful to Berkeley for the life-changing education we received.
On public health and the challenges we face
The world today is much healthier than in the past, with steep declines in child mortality and extreme poverty. The control of infectious killers such as smallpox, polio, HIV, and malaria has been inspiring for our field. But there is still a big unfinished agenda (e.g. infections such as TB, and maternal deaths), and an emerging agenda that includes antimicrobial resistance, climate change, and non-communicable diseases. So, plenty of work to do in public health!
Movie of my life at SPH
Every time I see The Graduate (1967) or listen to Simon & Garfunkel, I get nostalgic about Berkeley.