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Dhiren Thakker, Ph.D., and Ambassador Cristina Balan

UNC-Chapel Hill hosted Moldovan Ambassador to the U.S. Cristina Balan on March 29 as part of a partnership between the Eastern European country and the state of North Carolina.

At UNC, Balan visited the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Adams School of Dentistry, and Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies.

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy has partnered with the Nicolae Testemițanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Chișinău, Moldova since 2016. Last year, the School hosted a pharmacy delegation from Moldova through the Open World program in order to further the partnership between the two institutions.

“Promoting pharmacy education and practice on the global stage is an important part of the School’s mission,” said Interim Dean Dhiren Thakker, Ph.D. “We’re excited to welcome Ambassador Balan and to continue working with Moldova to provide invaluable international experiences for pharmacy students.”

Moldova is one of the key partners for the Global Pharmacy Scholars program, which also includes rotation sites in Australia, China, England, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Malawi and Zambia. Since 2016, the School has sent Pharm.D. students to Nicolae Testemițanu for an international rotation and hosted students from Moldova.

“The Global Pharmacy Scholars program provides a much broader experience for our students and it opens their eyes to other ways to do things,” said Stephen Eckel, Pharm.D., M.H.A., associate dean for global engagement. “The people that come to work at UNC and the school of pharmacy really care for others; it’s a culture of wanting to give back. And that’s where the partnership with Moldova becomes really exciting for us, because it’s how can we help out and give back to others.”

The collaboration between UNC and Moldova is part of the North Carolina–Moldova Partnership for Peace, which fosters cooperation in the areas of civil emergency operations, expansion of markets, cultural, scientific and academic exchanges, and the coordination of humanitarian efforts of many governmental and non-governmental organizations. The NC-Moldova Partnership was formalized with an agreement in 1999 that was renewed most recently in 2015.

At the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, David Steeb, Pharm.D., M.P.H., director of global engagement, has played a pivotal role in promoting and sustaining the Moldova partnership, said Thakker.

Balan is the Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to the United States as of June 2018. Before joining the diplomatic corps, she was an active politician in Moldova who served as deputy president of the Democratic Party of Moldova, a ruling party since 2016 with strong pro-Western beliefs.

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