Making an Impact in Global Health: Surgery, Innovation, and Business


Currently, 5 billion people around the world have no access to safe surgery. As a result, countless people in lower and middle income countries suffer unnecessarily from disability and disfigurement. In addition, the lack of anesthesia, medications, and health facilities in these countries leads to much more human suffering that could be addressed with safe and affordable surgery.

In this seminar class, students will learn about the global need for medical care and surgery, as well as possible career opportunities in global health. The class format will be lecture-based, with ample time for discussion. Lectures on global surgery, global infectious disease, and careers in academics, government, and non-profit organizations will be presented. Guest lecturers will include experts in surgery, public health, venture capital, education, and business--both non-profit and for profit. Importantly, skills will be taught that will empower the student to be effective agents of change in this arena. These specific skills will include speaking in public, creating a business plan, and making a pitch to funders. Beyond the classroom, there will be optional opportunities to shadow doctors in the operating room.

The final project will consist of researching a global health need, developing a sustainable project, and making an argument and business case for funding. As a result of this course, it is hoped that the students will understand there are many career paths that can be taken to have a meaningful career in Global Health.

Meet the Instructor(s)

James Chang, MD

"My name is James Chang, and I am currently the Johnson & Johnson Distinguished Professor of Surgery (Plastic Surgery) & Orthopedic Surgery and Chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Stanford. I attended Stanford as an undergraduate, receiving a B.A.S. in Biology and Economics. I then spent a year as a lecturer in English at the Beijing University of Science and Technology. For my medical specialization, I graduated from the Yale University School of Medicine and then completed a Plastic Surgery Residency at Stanford, followed by advanced hand surgery training at UCLA.

"One of the main reasons I went into Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery was to have a tangible impact on global health, as the procedures in reconstructive surgery can be performed with limited equipment and supplies. I have worked overseas in Cambodia, Vietnam, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. For the past six years, as Consulting Medical Officer for a non-profit, ReSurge International (, I have seen firsthand both the incredible need for reconstructive surgery and the impact of sustained training programs on building capacity. Since many students are interested in Global Health, I would like to share, in this course, career opportunities and skills required for improving the health of those in need around the world."