‘How can I ask others to help if I am not helping first?’

Flavio F. Marsiglia: My investment equals impact — and benefits a cause I believe in.

Flavio F. Marsiglia, Distinguished Foundation Professor of Cultural Diversity and Health, Regents Professor Watts College
Flavio F. Marsiglia, Distinguished Foundation Professor of Cultural Diversity and Health, Regents Professor Watts College

When Flavio F. Marsiglia made a gift to Arizona State University, he put his money where his heart is.

Marsiglia is a Distinguished Foundation Professor of Cultural Diversity and Health and a Regents Professor in ASU’s School of Social Work and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. He is also founder and director of the Global Center for Applied Health Research, which establishes partnerships for intervention health research with universities and communities in Burundi, China, Guatemala, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, Taiwan, and Marsiglia’s birthplace, Uruguay.

Marsiglia designated his gift for GCAHR’s International Research Fellowship Program, “… a great opportunity for global exchange,” he says. “We have hosted 14 fellows from nine countries since its inception, for periods from three months to two years.”

Marsiglia says the fellows might be pre- or postdoc researchers in their home countries, but many of them have no access to advanced research training.

“If selected for our fellowship program, they receive intensive training and increase their capacity and the capacity of their home countries to conduct this kind of applied research addressing pressing health problems,” Marsiglia says. “Once they go back, they collaborate with us on designing and leading studies in their own countries.”

In February, when the MacArthur Foundation recognized one of GCAHR’s projects as one of the top 100 in its 100&Change competition, Marsiglia told ASU Now, “We cannot make the mistakes of the past and import solutions developed in the rich north and expect that those solutions will be acceptable, effective or sustainable in other contexts. Investing in creating capacity within country and taking the time to do it right will have a lasting effect that will benefit all of us. Each time we engage in joint projects with partners in other countries, we learn as much from the experience as they do.”

The MacArthur Foundation had high praise for “keepin’ it REAL,” a culturally grounded substance use prevention curriculum that teaches students in grades six through nine to use four drug resistance strategies: Refuse, Explain, Avoid and Leave.

Lessons and videos were developed by students for use with their peers in this program that has been tested with more than 7,000 middle-school students and designated a Model Program by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. kiR has been adapted for use in Guatemala, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay, and GCAHR is working to expand it into sub-Saharan Africa.

While his partnerships and perspective may be global, Marsiglia has been extensively involved in service to ASU throughout his 25-year tenure. He feels a particular affinity for the university.

“It is very large, but it always made me feel at home,” he says. “It is collegial and the leadership is accessible, and it is located in the Southwest, a region rich in natural wonders, indigenous culture and history.”

He also serves extensively through professional organizations and societies in his field. But with his gift, he makes it clear that he wants to do more.

“It is not easy to get an initiative like this fellowship program funded,” Marsiglia says. “I wanted to make an investment in it because I believe in its impact. I hope it will inspire others to help and make the International Research Fellowship Program grow and become sustainable.

“But,” he adds, “how can I ask others to help if I am not helping first?”

Why I give

My story

As founder and director of the Global Center for Applied Health Research, I create partnerships with health researchers around the world. I work with universities and communities in Burundi, China, Guatemala, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, Taiwan and my birthplace, Uruguay.

Why I give

With my giving, I help create opportunities for students from other countries to come here as GCAHR International Research Fellows. We have hosted 14 fellows from nine countries for three months to two years.

These pre- or postdoctoral researchers often have no access to advanced training in their home country. If selected for our fellowship program, they receive intensive training and increase their capacity to conduct research addressing pressing health problems. Once they go back, they collaborate with us on designing and leading studies in their own countries.

What I care about

We cannot make the mistakes of the past and import solutions developed in the rich north and expect that those solutions will be acceptable, effective or sustainable in other contexts.

Investing in creating capacity within country and taking the time to do it right will have a lasting effect that will benefit all of us. Each time we engage in joint projects with partners in other countries, we learn as much from the experience as they do.

• Global Center for Applied Health Research International Research Fellows

It is not easy to get an initiative like this fellowship program funded. I wanted to make an investment in it because I believe in its impact. I hope it will inspire others to help and make the International Research Fellowship Program grow and become sustainable.

But how can I ask others to help if I am not helping first?

How I contribute

I give to support the International Research Fellowship Program at the Global Center for Applied Health Research. It’s a great opportunity for global exchange.

‘Why I Give’: Stories from ASU faculty and staff

ASU Foundation, one of Arizona’s oldest nonprofits, raises and invests private contributions to Arizona State University. https://www.asufoundation.org/

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