As part of its commitment to address pressing health challenges throughout the world, Emory's Global Health Institute has awarded nearly $2 million in support to four new research and public health programs. The programs build on existing Emory research strengths and collaborations with scientists in other nations. Established earlier this year as a University-wide strategic initiative, the Global Health Institute is directed by Jeffrey Koplan, Emory vice president for academic health affairs and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Halting the worldwide diabetes epidemic
Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, along with the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, will establish the Global Diabetes Research Center in Chennai, India. Led by K. M. Venkat Narayan, researchers from both Emory and India will work together to find ways to stop the growing worldwide diabetes epidemic. Narayan is the Ruth and O.C. Hubert professor of global health and epidemiology at Rollins School of Public Health and professor of medicine.
The Center will serve as a hub for population-based research and large intervention trials throughout South Asia and the world as well as provide increased educational and research opportunities to Emory faculty, staff and students.
"The Global Diabetes Research Center will advance a long-term partnership and promote cultural compatibility in science and innovation. Along with our partners, we will develop low-resource solutions to decreasing diabetes in India and worldwide while encouraging complementary strengths in collaborative, interdisciplinary and global diabetes research," said Narayan.
Reducing maternal and newborn deaths during home births
Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, in collaboration with the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh, will launch a research and training project aimed at reducing maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity in poor areas where home births often are assisted by unskilled attendants.
The partnership, headed by Lynn Sibley, associate professor in Emory's Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing, will use community-based strategies and interventions to reduce the 529,000 maternal deaths and 4 million neonatal deaths that occur annually because of complications during home births.
The project builds on current collaborations between the School of Nursing's Center for Research on Maternal and Newborn Survival and the ICDDR,B. The new partnership will include Emory's Rollins School of Public Heath, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee and the LAMB Integrated Rural Health and Development/World Mission Prayer League, two well-known nongovernmental organizations.
"We are very excited about continuing our work to prevent maternal and newborn deaths during home births and enhancing our partnerships in this effort," said Sibley. "We believe this project will make a tremendous difference in the lives of mothers and newborns in Bangladesh and will serve as a model for other countries as well."
Improving the global control of tuberculosis
Emory School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health, the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, and the University of Zambia School of Medicine will conduct a research project focusing on improving the global control of tuberculosis, with an emphasis on TB in the HIV-positive population. Led by Henry Blumberg, Emory professor of medicine, the project is expected to include a study of a new generation of diagnostic TB tests, as well as research training for Zambian physicians and scientists.
"There is a critical need for improved diagnostics for TB throughout the world," said Blumberg. "As recent events illustrate, tuberculosis remains an enormous global public health problem with critical needs for increased support of research on new tools for TB control including new drugs, new diagnostics and an effective TB vaccine."
The Zambia-Emory Research Initiative in TB and TB/HIV builds on the infrastructure established by the Zambian-Emory HIV Research Program. The program was established in 1994 by Susan Allen, professor of global health at the RSPH, and by the NIH Fogarty International Center-funded Emory AIDS International Research and Training Program grant (which includes Zambia), led by Carlos del Rio. Allen and del Rio are collaborators on the new global health project, along with Naasha Talati, a fellow in the Emory Division of Infectious Diseases.
Developing avian influenza vaccines
A consortium that includes Emory University School of Medicine's new NIH-funded Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance and the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China will conduct studies aimed at developing a universal vaccine against infection by different H5N1 avian influenza strains. Led by Chinglai Yang, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, Emory will provide training in molecular virology and immunology studies to visiting HVRI scientists, while HVRI will provide training to Emory researchers in avian influenza field surveillance and viral pathogenesis studies.
"Emory's strengths in influenza research, enhanced by a recent large NIH grant, and our established scientific partnerships with China, will allow us to move forward as world leaders in the development of a universal avian flu vaccine," said Yang.
For more information about the Global Health Institute and these projects, please visit www.globalhealth.emory.edu