A Health Partnership is Launched

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Yale and a Russian university sign an agreement to formally work together on health challenges.

A long-standing partnership between the Yale School of Public Health and Saint Petersburg State University in Russia was solidified Friday when leaders of the two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding to formally work together on an array of health-related projects.

YSPH Dean Paul D. Cleary and Igor Gorlinsky, vice rector of Saint Petersburg, signed the memorandum on October 11 during a ceremony at the School of Public Health.

“My colleagues and I are ready to start a new era in our relationship,” said Gorlinksy. 

The two institutions have already worked jointly on a number of health projects of mutual concern, including on HIV/AIDS, drug addiction, tuberculosis, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and childhood sexual abuse, said YSPH Professor Robert Heimer, who has extensive research experience in Russia.   

The School of Public Health today has numerous researchers who have worked throughout Russia, and in Saint Petersburg in particular. The relationship can be traced back to 1997 when then-Dean Michael Merson and a delegation of U.S. HIV researchers from Yale and the Center for AIDS Intervention Research in Milwaukee visited with Professor Gorlinsky, who was then dean of the biology faculty, along with faculty representatives from psychology, sociology and medicine. This meeting led to an AIDS International Training and Research Program grant that has continued to provide Yale with opportunities to train young scientists in St. Petersburg with research skills needed for HIV/AIDS.

“The challenges of responding to the continuing expansion of the intersecting epidemics of HIV, drug addiction, tuberculosis, hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases require an interdisciplinary approach and an ongoing commitment to generating the resources to develop and implement effective interventions,” said Heimer. “This agreement celebrates 15 years of collaboration and creates a basis for ongoing interactions between our two long-established institutions. I anticipate that this will lead, eventually, to the establishment of interventions that can make headway against HIV and related health and social problems.”

With the agreement, the two institutions hope to create a behavioral health research center in St. Petersburg that combines the pedagogical and scientific skills of faculty from Yale and Saint Petersburg.  

Such a center would allow the resources of the two institutions to be better aligned, not just in responding to the HIV syndemic but also to other societal problems that joint research can study with an eye to developing evidence-based solutions. 

Cleary noted that the relationship between the two institutions has already been collaborative and productive. It should become more so.

“I have incredible optimism of what the future holds for us,” he said. 


This Article was submitted by Denise L Meyer, on Tuesday, October 15, 2013.