ANN ARBOR, Mich. - As the health needs of people worldwide become ever more linked with our own, a new program will train researchers to study those needs and find new ways to address them, from AIDS and malaria to the health of mothers and children.
The program, funded by a new $5 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, will involve educators and students from the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, the University of Minnesota and the University of Hawaii. Together, the institutions form a new entity called the Northern/Pacific Universities Global Health Research Training Consortium.
The consortium will hold a competition to accept 12 to 15 young doctors and health scientists each year to become Global Health Fellows. The first participants, drawn from the medical and health sciences schools at the four consortium universities, will be chosen this summer.
Each fellow will receive funding, training and mentoring to carry out a research project in one of six nations: China, Ghana, Kenya, Peru, Thailand or Uganda. They will also receive help in developing their research and global health acumen as they begin their careers in medicine, public health or another field.
The new funding is part of a broader $20 million Fogarty Global Health Program for Fellows and Scholars announced today by NIH. Three other consortia around the country, involving 17 other universities, are also being launched today. The funding comes from the Fogarty International Center, the international component of the NIH, and 15 other institutes and centers within NIH.
“The world needs outstanding new researchers to help tackle the thorny health problems that face low- and middle-income nations, and we embrace the opportunity to help train them in a way that produces lasting results,” says Joseph Kolars, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Education and Global Initiatives at the U-M Medical School. He will lead both the education metrics portion of the consortium, and U-M’s participation in the program.
The U-M Medical School and other health sciences areas of U-M have longstanding ties to medical and health institutions overseas, and the new consortium will leverage several of those.
Specifically, U-M medical researchers have strong ties to three institutions in Ghana, and already collaborate with them to bring Ghanaian medical students to Michigan and send Michigan medical students to Ghana.
And, the Medical School has a Joint Institute for Clinical and Translational Research with Peking University that is working to perform translational and clinical research studies in the U.S. and China on diseases relative to both countries.
The new consortium seeks to provide outstanding mentored research training to post-doctorate and doctoral students at these and other international partner institutions, and to train the next generation of U.S. and international global health researchers who will develop and implement new innovative interdisciplinary research to reduce the burden of infectious, chronic and preventable diseases.
In addition to a stipend and travel support, each fellow will receive a grant of $10,000 to conduct a one-time research project in the country they will travel to. Many of these will be studying how disease spreads or can be prevented, or how local health care systems operate. The studies will be reviewed by the institutional review boards of both the U.S. and host country institutions.
Program trainees will study the traditional global health problems such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and maternal and child health, and will address the chronic non-communicable diseases that cause a majority of deaths in developing countries, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
While most of the applicants are expected to be recent graduates or post-degree trainees of the medical schools and schools of public health, others from schools of dentistry, pharmacy, osteopathy, nursing, veterinary medicine and public policy at the four institutions can also apply.
“In combining the enthusiasm of today’s young scientists with the knowledge and wisdom of America’s global health leaders, we are forming a powerful network to produce a new generation of stellar researchers capable of working in the global arena,” said Dr. Roger I. Glass, Fogarty’s director. “This program will leverage the considerable experience, relationships and infrastructure the 20 U.S. partners have built in developing countries around the globe, together with the depth and diversity of their subject matter expertise, to ensure our alumni are well-equipped to tackle the world’s most pressing health problems.”
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