The funding aims to enhance healthcare access in underserved Colombian communities, while fostering educational and research opportunities for USC School of Pharmacy faculty and students.
The D.K. Kim Foundation has given $1 million to the International Center for Regulatory Science in support of the USC School of Pharmacy’s global health outreach efforts. The funding will help create a new healthcare infrastructure in a high-poverty area of South America wracked by Huntington’s disease.
The gift, spread over five years, establishes the Kim Integrated Health Management Initiative (KIHMI), which will create a model sustainable community centered on a new integrated health management facility in El Difícil, Colombia — an area of about 18,000 inhabitants who are afflicted with a high prevalence of the usually rare but invariably fatal neurodegenerative disorder.
The health management facility will serve approximately 1,600 individuals annually. Its clinical service programs also will host USC pharmacy students journeying to the area in faculty-led global health brigades, providing vital services to people afflicted with Huntington’s disease who would otherwise lack proper care.
Serving the global public good
KIHMI will help heighten the school’s global impact, creating greater access to healthcare to underserved communities in partnership with diverse organizations in the U.S. and abroad.
“Having transformed the role of pharmacists as leaders in community healthcare, the USC School of Pharmacy is ideally positioned to lead this project to deliver healthcare in this deprived area of South America. Moreover, the initiative will create exciting new opportunities for students and faculty,” Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos says.
While there is no cure for Huntington’s disease, treatments can alleviate its symptoms, which include involuntary movements and cognitive and psychiatric disorders. However, the treatment costs are beyond the means of the residents of high-poverty El Difícil, where intense negative stigma surrounds the disease.
“This global initiative will provide a mechanism for our faculty and students to collaborate, innovate — and lead,” says Eunjoo Pacifici, director of the International Center for Regulatory Science, who traveled to El Difícil last year.
Foundation founder D.K. Kim was inspired to partner with the school on this initiative as a way to serve the global public good while developing students into leaders who will help build healthier communities.
“Having spent my childhood growing up in post-war South Korea, I have always dreamed of building a global community that fights poverty and promotes innovation through entrepreneurship, scholarship and service,” Kim says. “I am excited to share my vision with the faculty and leadership of the USC School of Pharmacy, who are dedicated to training the next generation of healthcare leaders.”