Public Release:  UNC-led consortium awarded $4 million to train next generation of global health researchers

University of North Carolina Health Care

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The University of North Carolina School of Medicine has been awarded $1.5 million for the first year of a five-year grant to lead a training program that will help cultivate the next generation of global health clinicians and scientists. The consortium, which involves four partnering institutions, will support early-career scientists and clinicians during a yearlong research fellowship at 17 sites in 13 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.

A partnership between UNC, Johns Hopkins, Morehouse, and Tulane, the UJMT Fogarty Global Health Fellowship Program provides newly appointed junior faculty, postdoctorates, and predoctoral candidates from the United States and low-and middle-income countries with an 11-month mentored clinical research training program. The program will enhance the career trajectory of the participants, strengthen the global health research programs at U.S. and foreign institutions, and will bolster networking among program alumni and senior scientist mentors. The UNC-led consortium is one of five academic consortia to receive funding under this new program.

"This new program will allow us to train the next generation of global health problem solvers," said Charles van der Horst, MD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of the new UJMT Fogarty program. "These young innovators will tackle vexing health problems that plague people everywhere, not just on the other side of the globe, but here in the United States as well."

In the first year, the program will train 11 U.S. junior faculty and postdoctoral researchers and three international postdoctoral researchers from low- and middle-income countries in a variety of disciplines, including surgery, epidemiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and oncology. In addition, the program will support four U.S. predoctoral candidates.

Among the first cohort of trainees are seven young researchers from UNC:

  • Laura Boschini, MD, MA, a surgical fellow, will study injury prevention (Malawi);
  • Satish Gopal, MD, MPH, a clinical assistant professor in the department of medicine, will investigate lymphoma (Malawi);
  • Nora Rosenberg, who just received her PhD in epidemiology from UNC, will work on an HIV patient registry (Malawi);
  • Sheree Schwartz, PhD, , previously a postdoctoral research associate in the department of epidemiology, will study reproductive health decisions among people with HIV (South Africa);
  • Jennifer Tang, MD, MSCR, a junior faculty member in the department of obstetrics and gynecology will study reproductive health in women who have experienced obstetric fistula (Malawi);
  • Michael Vinikoor, MD, a clinical instructor in the department of medicine will study clinical outcomes in patients with both HIV and hepatitis (Zambia);
  • Claire Kendig, a fourth-year medical student, will be paired with a scholar in Malawi and study head and neck tumors in Malawi.

"This program represents a forward-looking investment in early-career researchers like me," said 2012-2012 fellow Satish Gopal. "It's because of this program that I now live and work in Malawi as one of the only oncologists in the country." Being a part of this program, he said, "will not only help my own career, but also have a big impact on cancer treatment and research in this part of the world."

The UJMT program is built on 20 years of research and training collaboration supporting global health research training sites that provide focused mentoring and diverse clinical research experiences. The UJMT Fogarty program is open to all disciplines. Trainees will study traditional global health problems-- HIV/AIDS, other infectious diseases, and maternal and child health--and will also address chronic, non-communicable diseases that cause an increasing number of deaths in low- and middle-income countries, conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A total of nearly $4 million will be awarded from the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center, the National Cancer Institute, the NIH Office of AIDS Research, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the Office of Research on Women's Health. The leadership from the four FGHF consortium sites includes van der Horst and Prema Menezes, PhD, PA at UNC; Yukari Manabe, MD, at Johns Hopkins; Kofi Kondwani, PhD, at Morehouse; and Pierre Buekens, MD, PhD, and Geetha Bansal, PhD, at Tulane.

###

Applications for the 2013-2014 academic year are being accepted through December 1, 2012. To learn more and to apply, visit www.fogartyglobalhealthfellows.org.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.