Nobel Peace Prize winner has strong ties to UMMS

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf leading ongoing collaboration

By Kristen O’Reilly

UMass Medical School Communications

October 07, 2011
Dean Terence R. Flotte, MD, consults with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during a trip to Liberia in March.


The UMass Medical School community offered congratulations to 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, who has worked closely with the Medical School on multiple projects aimed at helping her war-torn country rebuild its medical infrastructure.

“We have tremendous admiration for President Sirleaf and all she has done for Liberia, women, Africa and the world,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins “The UMass Medical School faculty and staff who have worked in Liberia consider it a life-changing experience that goes far beyond healing, training and research. They return from Liberia deeply inspired and with renewed optimism. Perhaps most importantly, they see firsthand how empowering women leads to better health for children, and a better world for all.”

This past March, Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor in Medicine, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the school of medicine, led a team of UMass Medical School faculty and clinicians who went to Liberia for a week to advance a number of initiatives. The eight-person delegation was assembled by Associate Provost of Global Health Katherine Luzuriaga, MD, professor of medicine and pediatrics.

“President Sirleaf is an inspiration to all of us, but particularly to our women physician faculty. The empowerment of women, which she so clearly exemplifies, has powerfully advanced the progress of children’s health and well-being throughout the world,” said Dean Flotte.

Liberia recently emerged from two disastrous civil wars that destroyed much of its medical infrastructure and training systems. With a $2.4 million grant from the non-profit Higher Education for Development, which funds innovative partnerships between U.S. colleges or universities with institutions of higher learning in developing nations; the United States Agency for International Development; and in cooperation with Health Education and Relief Through Teaching, a not-for-profit corporation providing overall health care and health training to underdeveloped communities and countries, UMMS faculty are collaborating with other academic health sciences centers from around the United States on several initiatives to address Liberia’s medical needs.

Related links on UMassMedNow:

Medical School team rebuilding health care in Liberia
Library projects lending order to chaos in Liberia
Pediatric training in Liberia