Yale Training in Urban Health Issues Enhanced with Grant

With a $4 million award from the National Institutes of Health, the Yale School of Public Health and three partnering universities will establish a Global Health Training Program to address health issues surrounding urbanization and social inequality. The grant creates a consortium between global health researchers at Yale and their colleagues from Florida International University, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. Yale is part of one of five consortias announced this week by the Fogarty International Center, the NIH’s international arm. Each group will receive $4 million over five years, for a total of $20 million to train a new generation of global health researchers.

“NIH is making a major effort to create the next generation of global health leaders,” said Albert Ko, the principal investigator for the Global Health Fellows and Scholars Program at Yale and head of the Division of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at the School of Public Health.  “Our program provides Yale fellows and students the opportunity to take part in this nationwide initiative and gain hands-on training in how to effectively address some of the world’s most pressing health problems.” The consortium to which Yale belongs will provide multidisciplinary training for early-career public health and medical fellows and students through year-long fellowships based in 10 locations throughout Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. All of the sites are based in underserved urban communities where long-term research and training has been ongoing. Yale, specifically, oversees five of the consortium’s 10 field sites. The Yale projects include urban slum health in Brazil (directed by Ko), African sleeping sickness in Uganda (directed by Serap Aksoy), HIV/AIDS and harm reduction in Russia (directed by Robert Heimer and Frederick Altice), health policy in Ethiopia (directed by Elizabeth Bradley) and cancer and air pollution in China (directed by Tongzhang Zheng). The training program will be open to postdoctoral and clinical fellows, as well as doctoral and medical students, who are advanced in their training. Ko’s work is focused in Salvador, Brazil, where he works with the government officials and other researchers to address the public health problems that have emerged in Brazil’s urban slums or favelas,as they have rapidly expanded in the last 30 years. Their work includes research on leptospirosis, a neglected tropical disease that is transmitted to people by sewer rats. The disease thrives in densely-inhabited and marginalized slum communities where sanitation is poor. The five awards will allow each group to further develop and support global health research training programs that provide focused mentoring for participants and diverse clinical research experiences at approximately 80 established research sites in low-resource settings. Trainees will study 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. “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 Roger I. Glass, Fogarty’s director. 

This article was submitted by Denise L Meyer on June 12, 2012.

As part of a new consortium with three other universities, Yale will oversee five global health training programs around the world, including urban slum health in Brazil.

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Albert Icksang Ko

Department Chair and Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) and of Medicine (Infectious Diseases)