Focus: Chronic disease and perinatal epidemiology
Affiliation: Samoa Ministry of Health Collaborative Research Center
Site and Background: This site will provide training opportunities in non-communicable chronic diseases and perinatal epidemiology. The training site will be based at the newly established Yale University/Samoa Ministry of Health Collaborative Research Center, under the coordination of the Foreign PI, Dr. Satupaitea Viali of the National University of Samoa and Program Director Hawley. Viali and Hawley have been colleagues since 2009, establishing their collaboration on a study of the genetic origins of adult non-communicable diseases. Since that initial work, they have extended their research program to include issues of non-communicable and infectious disease in childhood and the exploration of how obesity, diabetes, and hypertension impact maternal pregnancy health and later offspring health outcomes. Working with other collaborating partners from both Samoa and the US, the group was recently awarded an NIH R01 to examine in further detail the association of a unique genetic mutation identified by the investigators with adult body mass index. With the support of the other proposed site mentors, Director General of the Samoan Ministry of Health Dr. Take Naseri and Dr. Viali Lameko of the National Health Service and Oceania University of Medicine, the Samoan site has provided training to more than 20 undergraduate, MPH and PhD students in the past seven years, in both short and long term placements at the site. There is one PhD student (Yale Anthropology) currently completing her dissertation research in Samoa under the guidance of Hawley and the site PI. The site has strong ethical review and oversight of research, provided by the Ministry of Health Health Research Committee. Examples of success stories in creating new US researchers and professionals in global health work at the site include the following: 1) Dr. Hawley herself began her postdoctoral career at this site under the mentorship of Professor Stephen McGarvey (Brown University) and Dr. Viali. She is now a productive junior faculty member at the Yale School of Public health and gaining a reputation for her work in Samoa on non-communicable disease; 2) Dr. Haley Cash was a Brown University PhD/MPH student who worked with Hawley and Viali for her dissertation project. She now works for the US CDC as the NCD Regional Epidemiologist for the US Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI); Courtney Choy is a recent MPH graduate of the Yale School of Public Health. She also worked under the supervision of Hawley and Viali to complete her MPH thesis project, which documented the dual burden of malnutrition in young Samoan children. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship and will return to the Samoan site in Fall 2016 to continue her work in this area.