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Global Health Program Will Expand With NIH Fogarty Grant

The grant has been awarded to develop an integrated, University-wide global health program.

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October 7, 2008 | by Marla Paul
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center to develop an integrated, University-wide global health program.

"This Fogarty Frameworks Grant enables the University to broaden its existing global health program and offer it to many more faculty and students," said Devora Grynspan, director of international program development for Northwestern and administrator of the grant. "Now we can take it to a much higher level and create more programs that promote global health expertise."

Robert Murphy, M.D., principal investigator of the grant and professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, said the award offers Northwestern the opportunity to strengthen the links to international education and research that exist within several of its schools.

"This grant was awarded because the NIH recognizes the strengths of Northwestern and potential we have for moving the international health agendas forward," Murphy said.

The grant will help the University expand global health activities on both campuses by creating about 12 new courses and research opportunities abroad as well as a concentration in global health for medical students. Several new classes will be launched for the spring quarter.

Global health classes are much in demand at Northwestern, with long waiting lists unless students are global health minors. "Now we hope to accommodate everybody who wants to study global health," Grynspan said.

The new program will support teams of students on campus doing research on global health issues and going abroad to do related field work. Grynspan also plans to bring together faculty from the Evanston campus and the medical school on research projects. In the future, a new interactive Web site will connect Northwestern's global health community by providing information about faculty research abroad and health care delivery at university public health research sites in Uganda, South Africa, Mexico and China.

Students in global health will receive training on ethical and cultural issues related to international research. "Whether students are going to France or Uganda, they need to understand gender and religious issues and other cultural issues that impact the way they conduct research," Grynspan said. "You cannot treat HIV/AIDS in South Africa the way you treat it in San Francisco. You have to understand the multiple dimensions of particular health problems."

"Learning about the rest of the world improves our health care system," added Grynspan. "This is not only about how we are going to save the world. There is a lot for us to learn as well. Our research becomes more relevant if we have a comparative perspective."

Northwestern is one of 12 campuses that received a Fogarty International Center award in an effort to expand the network of global health education programs around the world.

In addition to this Fogarty award, Northwestern was recently awarded an AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) grant for $1.5 million by the NIH/Fogarty International Center to develop a research training program for trainees from Nigeria and Mali. The principal investigator is Murphy, and the academic director is Babafemi Taiwo, assistant professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Feinberg. They inaugurated the program at the University of Ibadan and Jos University in Nigeria and at the University of Bamako in Mali this summer.