A Medical Device Daily

The Fogarty International Center, a global arm of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reported that it has launched a $1.5 million-a-year grant program to fund domestic and overseas training of researchers to fight chronic diseases in developing nations.

The program is intended to build research capacity in cancer, stroke, lung disease, environmental factors, obesity, lifestyle and the relationship of all these conditions to the genetics of chronic diseases in countries often thought of only in terms of infectious diseases.

Up to seven awards and two planning grants are being made available under the "Millennium Promise Awards: Non-communicable Chronic Diseases Research Training Program," a key part of Fogarty's new strategic plan reported last month.

The plan also amplifies the center's longtime effort to fight infectious diseases endemic to poorer regions of the world and calls for a new emphasis on "implementation research."

Even in regions where malaria or cholera have been prevalent for a long time and researchers know how to treat patients, educating medical workers and gaining compliance from patients is often the biggest barrier to health. Implementation science could mean finding better ways of communicating to people that malaria is caused by mosquitoes, not rotting fruit; or it could mean developing training guides to teach medical relief organizations how to quickly and efficiently set up a field hospital in case of a sudden infectious disease outbreak.

About 60% of all deaths worldwide are attributable to chronic diseases, and 80% of them occur in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.

The program is seeking proposals from scientists who have broad understanding of or experience in working across disciplines, such as nutrition, business, behavioral health, health law, economics, environmental health and urban planning.

Specifically, objectives of the research training program are to:

Train a cadre of experts who can assess the magnitude of diseases such as cancer; cerebrovascular disease, including stroke; lung disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; obesity; genetics; environmental factors, including indoor air pollution; and lifestyle factors related to the onset of chronic conditions in lower- and middle-income countries.

Support training-related research projects (degree-related or mentored research) that address chronic diseases in a culturally relevant and sensitive manner.

Strengthen the research training capacity and institutional infrastructure required for success by building on existing research programs on chronic diseases at the foreign sites.

Develop methods to monitor and understand the causes of chronic non-communicable disease.

Train researchers who work in chronic non-communicable diseases across a broad range of research areas from genetics to epidemiology to clinical research to implementation science.

Train researchers who can identify economic factors that influence chronic disease risks and who can develop evidence regarding the impact of chronic non-communicable diseases on families and communities.

Train individuals who can translate research into public health policy and into programs of care.

Grantees would receive funding of up to $220,000 a year for up to five years, with planning grants allocated up to $27,000 each year for up to two years. Letters of intent are due August 31 and full applications must be submitted by Sept. 29.

The Fogarty International Center addresses global health challenges through research and training programs and supports and advances the NIH mission through international partnerships.