The summer of “global health”
Public Relations - Published: August 2, 2010
GlobalHealthAmbassadorsThe federal government, the World Health Organization and the United Nations have been summer learning laboratories for Widener students studying through the Health Law Institute.

With the help of Visiting Distinguished Professor of Law Michele D. Forzley, seven students were able to secure summer placements in global health externships or research positions. Forzley has supervised some of the students in person in Geneva, Switzerland and she has used the internet and Skype to oversee those working in the United States. Sponsoring organizations have been so pleased with the students’ work, she said, that they have begun asking for year-round student support and are already lining up opportunities for next summer.

“These real-life experiences allow students to work inside a government or international organization with a focus on global health legal issues, an emerging area of law,” Forzley said. “This summer has substantially broadened the opportunities available to Widener Law students, who until now had taken advantage only of domestic health externships. We are pleased the organizations that have sponsored our students have asked to continue their relationships with the law school, which will mean great things for the students who follow. Externships and research posts give students a chance to see how things work in the real world – one that is increasingly global – and they strengthen the educational experience.”

The students and their assignments include:

David Walker of the Pocono Summit area of Pennsylvania, is spending eight weeks working for the World Health Organization, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with the WHO’s Director of Medicines Department Dr. Hans Hogerzeil. The WHO is the coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. Walker is working with the Essential Medicines Department doing a comparative study of how countries legislate access to essential medicines. Walker also attended Widener’s summer institute in Lausanne and took comparative and international health and human rights law classes.

Celisse Williams of Claymont, Del. is working for the United Nations’ 2015 Millennium Campaign in the office of the U.N. Development Program in New York City. The campaign is intended to end extreme world poverty through achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Williams has assembled a report card that assesses the progress of U.N.-member countries toward those goals. Her work has been so well received that Widener has been asked to provide year-round intern support and student support for the upcoming General Assembly, in October.

Linda Zhang and Nathan Trexler are working in the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Zhang, of Kalamazoo, Mich. and Trexler of Bangor, Pa., are researching emerging legal issues on the procurement of pharmaceuticals and biosimilars.

Yuanyou “Sunny” Yang of the Sichuan Province in China has been working as a global health research assistant to Forzley and a WHO staff person, on a project that aims to benchmark health reform in China with a rule-of-law focus. Yang is already a graduate of Southwestern University School of Political Science and the Law, which maintains an ongoing exchange relationship with Widener and its Health Law Institute. She is living in Wilmington while studying at Widener Law. Forzley aims to publish the work in a Chinese journal and Yang will assist her with translation.

Finally, two students who studied through Widener’s summer institute in Lausanne, Switzerland found themselves with the unexpected opportunity to serve as research interns for the WHO. With Forzley’s assistance, Kelly Hicks of Downingtown, Pa. and Ashley Talley of Concordville, Pa. were tapped to research the international and domestic laws on controlled substances used in medical treatment. They will continue to serve the project remotely from the United States in the coming academic year.

The students have been chronicling their experiences online through the Global Extern's Blog. Read it at