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New Initiative to Establish Atlanta as the “Center for Global Health” Discussed at Georgia Bio Innovation Summit


There’s an exciting, new initiative underway to make Atlanta a “center for global health” focusing on disease eradication, economic development and disaster response.

That was the topic of discussion at the closing panel, “The Future of Life Sciences,” at the Georgia Bio Innovation Summit Oct. 9 at the Cobb Energy Centre.

Moderated by KC Decker or Deloitte Consulting, the panel included: Russell Allen, President and CEO, Georgia Research Alliance; Clark Dean, Senior Managing Director, Transwestern; David Hartnett, Chief Economic Development Officer, Metro Atlanta Chamber; and Maria Thacker Goethe, Acting President and CEO, Georgia Bio, and Executive Director, Georgia Global Health Alliance.

In May, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Georgia Global Health Alliance and Deloitte announced the launch of Global Health ATLas a collaborative initiative designed to create a health innovation district in the heart of metro Atlanta. More details are expected in early 2019.

Panelists agreed the state’s assets around global health are strong. When defining global health, Ms. Thacker Goethe clarified that we include life sciences as part of the global health effort to improve health and achieve equity in health for all people worldwide. She noted that innovations from across health sectors whether that be pharma, therapeutics, diagnostics, or medtech are crucial to public health work. Additionally, she noted that partnership with high-tech and telecommunications are also important to the effort of achieve global health equity. 

Atlanta is home to the CDC, Task Force for Global Health, Carter Center, CARE and the American Cancer Society, which just announced their new venture fundto commercialize cancer therapies. The state also has research institutions such as Emory University, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Morehouse, and Georgia State, among others. And we’re home to 15 Fortune 500 companies with global reach, including Delta, UPS and Coca-Cola that are using their influence and capacity to drive global health initiatives.

“Global Health ATL is the only initiative of its kind to have the unified support of the world's top corporate brands, health organizations and higher education institutions backing our efforts," according to the Global Health ATL website.

Among its corporate partners are Delta Air Lines, Sharecare, UPS and UCB whose executives are part of the initiative’s Executive Committee, along with academic and research institutions. Georgia Bio is a member of one of three “tiger” teams involved in developing strategies and helping to bring together metro Atlanta’s best resources.

Life sciences industry growing

The future of life sciences is bright.

The life sciences industry didn’t suffer a downturn like other industries during the Great Recession of 2008, and in fact, has experienced 15 percent employment growth since 2013. 

Georgia Bio and the Georgia Global Health Alliance are jointly conducting an industry study to look at the whole life sciences and global health landscape in the state. Defining the assets in Georgia is vital to the success of the sector, and development of Global Health ATL. The report is expected to launch at the February 8thGeorgia Bio Awards Dinner and 30thAnniversary Celebration.

Panelists agreed Georgia has what it takes to be a global health center, but there needs to be more communication, cooperation and collaboration between academia and industry.

“As we connect more, we’ll see strong growth,” Russell Allen said.”At Georgia Bio, we’ve enjoyed meeting with non-traditional health partners like the CDC Foundation to get their input.  Innovation is key, and the idea is to come up with Atlanta’s own “health district” that will be different from other tech hubs like Boston, Silicon Valley and San Diego.”

David Hartnett described the Global Health ATL initiative as “the single biggest thing we’ve ever done.” The effort will allow sectors to align and cooperate for change on a global scale. The fact is, Atlanta has a significant public and global health presence, and this is something the campaign is working to harass to improve opportunities for public and private entities.  

Global Health ATL is already at work identifying challenges and pinpointing strategies to promote a unified voice for global health in the region. Georgia Bio looks forward to being a part of this exciting initiative and raising the profile for life sciences in Georgia. 

What are your thoughts about establishing Atlanta as a “center for global health”? Are you interested in getting involved? Interested in real-estate in this groundbreaking effort? To learn more about Global Health ATL or to request information, visit