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Oct. 12, 2005 -- No. 486
School of Public Health receives NIH grant to expand
global health curriculum, research opportunities
CHAPEL HILL -- The Office of Global Health within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health recently received a three-year, $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand global health curriculum and research opportunities campuswide and engage faculty and students in an interdisciplinary study of global health issues.
The grant is one of 12 "Framework Programs for Global Health" grants issued to U.S. and foreign universities by the Fogarty International Center, the international component of the NIH. This is the first year that the Fogarty International Center has awarded the grants.
UNC’s grant will establish the UNC Framework Program for Global Health.
"The new UNC program will bring together a diverse set of formal partners on campus and engage local and international research organizations, including Family Health International and RTI International, and collaborators in South Africa, Malawi, India, Russia, Peru and Chile, in the development of multidisciplinary educational and research opportunities with a global focus," said Dr. Margaret "Peggy" Bentley, associate dean of global health in the School of Public Health and professor of nutrition in UNC’s schools of public health and medicine.
"Such a focus is needed to better address the world’s borderless health challenges," Bentley added. "HIV/AIDS, malaria, SARS, tuberculosis, cancer and obesity are just a few of the issues that affect or have the potential to affect people in every country on the planet. Understanding the problems and developing interventions for each of these requires individuals who work collaboratively from a variety of disciplines and perspectives."
During the past three years, the Office of Global Health – in partnership with Dr. Myron Cohen, J. Herbert Bate distinguished professor of medicine, and microbiology and immunology in the School of Medicine and of epidemiology in the School of Public Health – has worked to expand global health activities across the university, Bentley said.
"We also work closely with a dynamic group of students who lead the Student Global Health Committee, and who have been pivotal in making UNC a leading institution in global health education," Bentley added.
Some of the Office of Global Health’s activities have included:
The office additionally has worked with faculty in the schools of public health and medicine to develop grant proposals for research on bioethics, global injury, AIDS and obesity in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Malawi and India.
Specific goals of the Fogarty International Center grant include expanding global health curricula opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students at UNC; establishing an administrative framework to coordinate global health activities campuswide; and increasing opportunities for faculty to research global health topics, including HIV, malaria, maternal health, infant feeding, obesity, immigrant health and bioethics.
The new grant will help fund the participation of one or more UNC faculty members and between four and eight UNC graduate students in a three-week Summer Public Health Institute in Global Health at the University of Malawi in Blantyre next summer. UNC School of Public Health faculty already have collaborative teaching and research ties with the School of Community and Public Health at that university.
"This is an important step for UNC in continuing its leadership in the establishment of international educational and research ties to address public health challenges that have the potential to affect individuals around the world," said Dr. Peter Coclanis, UNC associate provost for international affairs and director of the University Center for International Studies.
"When you’ve seen the situation on the ground, it’s much more motivating than just looking at a bunch of numbers in a lab or office. This grant can help give students that perspective," said Dr. Jesse Kwiek, a postdoctoral epidemiology student who has traveled to Malawi to collaborate with UNC epidemiology professor Dr. Steven Meshnick in researching the molecular mechanism of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.
UNC’s campus partners in the Framework Program for Global Health include the schools of public health, medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and journalism and mass communication; the College of Arts and Sciences; the associate provost for international affairs’ office; the Student Global Health Committee; the University Center for International Studies; the Carolina Asia Center; the Institute of Latin American Studies; the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations; a newly established Center for African Studies; and several interdisciplinary centers, including the Carolina Population Center, the Carolina Environmental Program, the Center for Infectious Diseases and the Center for AIDS Research.
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