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The International Collaboration and Exchange Program - Preparing Global Leaders for Healthcare (“Columbia ICEP”), was initiated in 2014 within the Anatomy/Pathology Department at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City, NY, USA (Founding Program Director: Professor Anette Wu, MD, MPH, PhD). It partners over 33 major leading medical universities on 5 continents. Several universities are in the pilot phase and will be included in the upcoming years.The program is an international student networking and exchange program specifically designed for junior medical students - originating from within the anatomy course and created by faculty and students to promote the improvement of global healthcare. Although based in anatomy the program areas reach beyond the areas of basic science into Public and Global Health and global competencies for international leadership. 

The overall objective of this program is to prepare students in the health professions for international leadership roles in their countries and global collaborative problem solving in healthcare - promoting the mission of Science Diplomacy.

The program is open to all medical students from our partner universities at no cost. In addition, the program accepts select students from related partner health professions programs (i.e., dental, health sciences graduate schools, schools of public health, anatomy and pharmacy students), and select partner premedical undergraduate college students, based on academic achievement and interests. We also welcome select students who participate in the Laidlaw Foundation leadership program. Starting in fall 2023 we welcome select students from the partner schools of the African Research University Alliance (ARUA) as well as select graduates of the International Young Researchers Conference (IYRC).

We particularly invite international students and first generation immigrant students at our partner schools to join and thereby enrich all students' experiences with cultural diversity and to share their knowledge about healthcare and health related topics in their home countries.


Via multidirectional exchanges with students from major international universities, the program provides students with leadership skills, cultural competency skills, international experience, communication/debating skills and networking opportunities – resulting in raised awareness about differences in healthcare delivery systems and global public health challenges, improvement of cultural competency, acquisition of basic sciences research experience, development of leadership and multi-lateral international collaboration skills, and global healthcare problem solving. 

All of these competencies are important for global leaders in healthcare. Early peer-to-peer interactions are expected to form collegiality, long-term bonding, and friendships, and help to improve global healthcare in the future via networking and global collaboration. 

The program provides students with a stepwise opportunity to share and exchange cultural and healthcare related knowledge. 

The program is based on elements of internationalization of medical education for sustainable and comprehensive internationalization. Furthermore, it aims to foster international understanding by building on the ambassadorial role of students for Science Diplomacy for life-long collaboration and international understanding.

Program offerings

Fall (October to May)

  • International small peer group work initiates discussions about shared topics (e.g., comparison of healthcare systems, health ethics and law challenges, advancements in biotechnology, reflections on the topic of anatomy body donation and death, and thoughts on experiences in Global and Public Health, social determinants of health,.. ).

  • Large group discussions, platform debates and conference presentations train students for international public speaking while socializing in medium size groups online.

  • The program culminates in optional multi-directional international short-term basic sciences internships, to enhance basic sciences skills via immersion into an academic life abroad and/or virtual student research groups (for select students only). 

  • Expert international faculty lecture series introduce students to areas of healthcare and Public Health that are often not part of the regular medical curriculum.

Summer (June to August)

  • An optional condensed 8-week virtual summer program enhances leadership skills and scientific knowledge, as a replacement for, or in addition to summer exchange travel on select timely topics in healthcare that affect everyone. The summer program is themed and include international faculty lectures and discussion forums.

Spring (March)

  • A final/senior year international elective on cultural competency and food is offered in spring for senior medical and related health profession students.  It can taken for credit/grading for select schools. 

During the Year or at the End of the ICEP Year

  • Short-term immersion networking (Academic Immersion Travel) - outside the program students can travel in groups for a 5-day academic short-term immersion visits/student conferences at the partner schools (details to be shared with program participants each year). 


  • A postgraduate research exchange portion is being developed for past participants to continue global collaboration and lifelong networking to support the mission of science diplomacy.

  • Shared Interest Groups by interest and specialty connect students long-term globally.

  • Local ICEP chapters at each school provide mentoring and long-term membership in the program. 

Students acquire skills that will enhance their careers and prepare them for national and international leadership roles.

We take great pride in emphasizing the networking component of the program. 

Further continuation into the clinical years is in the planning phase. 

See program overview for further information and registration.

Check out our general program video here:

Check out our student testimonials 2022 here:

Check out our student testimonials 2023 here:

Check out our Academic Immersion Travel testimonial here: 

WhatsApp Video 2023-03-18 at 5.32.00 PM.mp4

ICEP Fall 2024 World Map V1 - smaller_ed
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