Botswana-UPenn Partnership marks 10 years of collaboration

Next week, 10 members of the Botswana-UPenn Partnership (BUP) will travel from Africa to join their colleagues here on campus to celebrate 10 years of medical and academic collaboration.

The weeklong observance, which begins Monday, Oct. 10, will focus on a decade of work fighting HIV/AIDS and developing scholarship and medical programs to benefit the people of Botsawna as well as students at Penn.

Three sessions will be open to the public. On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Penn students who have interned in Botswana will share their experiences  in the “Experience Africa Forum - Penn Student Perspectives.” The event takes place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Huntsman Hall, Room 345.

On Thursday, Oct. 13, BUP Research Director Andrew Steenhoff will moderate a Botswana research update from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Biomedical Research Building, Room 253. Participants will discuss the goals of their projects, collaborators, funding, aspects of their work, obstacles and logistical lessons learned. 

The highlight of the celebration will be the Anniversary Symposium on Friday, Oct. 14, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine’s Rubenstein Auditorium. Partnership personnel will give a historical overview of the collaboration, followed by program updates on HIV/AIDS, women’s health, pediatrics, adult tuberculosis and telemedicine, and a closing panel discussion on the BUP’s plans for the next 10 years.

To register for a session or for more information, visit

The partnership began in 2001, when Penn Medicine sent one physician to the southern African nation. That was during the height of an HIV/AIDS epidemic that former Botswana President Festus Mogae said had people dying “in chillingly high numbers.”

“Our original mission in Botswana was to train [healthcare] providers to care for patients with HIV/AIDS and its complications,” says Harvey Friedman, a professor of infectious diseases in the Perelman School of Medicine and current director of the Botswana-UPenn Partnership.

Since its founding, the partnership has expanded to include a staff of 65 in Botswana, including 11 full-time physicians. The collaboration offers internship experiences for Penn medical students as well as students from Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Law, Wharton and Arts and Sciences. Penn President Amy Gutmann visited Botswana in 2007 to observe the partnership’s work and Provost Vince Price toured the partnership in 2010.