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  From their home in Druid Hills, the Huberts are committed to moving the synergy coalescing around global health in Atlanta to the rest of the world.  
  he Hubert Foundation he leads has committed a total of $10 million to the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) for global health initiatives. The support thus far has enabled students to travel overseas to do research in the field, established two chairs, and created a fund that promotes excellence in global health. In recognition of these gifts, the RSPH recently named its Department of Global Health for the Hubert family. The Hubert Department of Global Health is the first named department of global health at any school of public health in the country.
     The foundation’s first foray into global health was a donation of $50,000 to allow 25 students to complete health practicums overseas. When those students returned with reports on the hands-on experiences they had, the Huberts found a cause that fit well with the mission of their family’s charitable trust.
     The trust originated with Richard Hubert’s father, O.C. Hubert, a self-made businessman who at his death in 1986 was the largest private individual owner of property in Cobb County, Georgia. Untangling the estate was complicated for Hubert’s family members, who were presented with a tax bill for almost the estate’s entire worth. In a tax case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the legal issues eventually were sorted out, with the family winning its case. The court established a trust, appointing Richard Hubert and William Foege, then executive director of The Carter Center, as two of its trustees.
     The Hubert Foundation’s charge from O.C. Hubert was to feed the hungry and cure the sick. “I didn’t have a notion of how to do that,” Hubert says. “I was bewildered. But when Bill Foege entered the picture, he gave us meaning and purpose.”
  Richard Hubert  
       Encouraged by the success of the first students they had sponsored, the Huberts created an endowment of $1 million for the O.C. Hubert Fellowships in International Health. (See related story.) The fellowships jelled with the family’s own experiences. Hubert’s stepson, Christopher Woods, now an assistant professor in Duke’s medical school, had done a field study in Kenya as part of his medical residency.
     “These programs are motivational,” says Hubert. “They offer people who want to be of service on the forefront of exotic diseases and pandemics a practical alternative to private practice.”
A portion of the Hubert Foundation’s recent pledges will double the endowment for the fellowships. “What these students bring back has a far greater value than a plane ticket,” says Hubert. “They have lived among the locals and seen health challenges firsthand. They come back changed. Tell me where else you can get that much for your money.”
     Hubert’s wife, Linda, a professor emerita of English at Agnes Scott College, is an equally passionate advocate for public health. “The world has shrunk so that today medicine has to embrace global health,” she says. “It’s of the utmost importance because what happens in one place affects another.”
       In addition to the fellowships, the Hubert Foundation has established two chairs at the RSPH: the Ruth and O.C. Hubert Chair in Religion and Health and the William H. Foege Chair in Global Health. Keith Klugman, the world’s premier expert on antibiotic resistance in pneumonia, was recently appointed as the first Foege chair, which honors the presidential distinguished professor of global health and the man who introduced the Huberts to the RSPH. (See related story.)
     The Huberts have been key to making global health a powerful force at Emory, says Foege. “Their contributions have placed Emory in a unique position for global health.”
     According to Foege, strengths of the global health program include having a dean who has a global vision and a faculty with experience in global health. “Now you would think that requirement is just common sense,” Foege says. “But first of all, there are not many places that have a strong global health program. Second, if they have such a program, they may not have faculty who have actually lived and worked in developing countries.”
     Foege himself completed his master’s degree work in tropical public health 40 years ago in a department that he describes as “great but without a single faculty member who had lived overseas. Emory has people who actually have had to make a payroll in a developing country. They know what it’s like to get up in the morning and be faced with problems that seem insurmountable. I think this is very valuable for students.”
       With a well-established international reputation in global health, the RSPH has set its aspirations even higher. The school has set a goal to become one of the top five public health schools in the United States, and the Huberts are helping place that goal within reach. The Richard N. Hubert Fund for Global Health Excellence will set aside $5.1 million to help the school strategically become a leader in global health. The fund will allow the RSPH flexibility in responding to opportunities that in the past have been limited by lack of start-up funds.
     The Huberts’ investment in global health initiatives extend beyond Emory to the CDC Foundation, Global Health Action, Medshare, and other initiatives. They support two goat farms in Haiti and North Korea that provide milk, yogurt, and food to the local people. From their home near Emory in Druid Hills, they remain committed to moving the synergy coalescing around global health efforts far beyond Atlanta.
     “We’ve been able to work with a relatively modest estate to marshal talents and resources in global health and have a tremendous impact,” Hubert says. “This is not an exclusive club. Ordinary people can get in on this and make things happen.”


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