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Fogarty International Center (FIC)

Friday, July 9, 2004

Jean Flagg-Newton, Ph.D.

Bridges to the Future: Building Partnerships in Clinical Research on Global Health Challenges

Bethesda, Maryland — The Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announces the first recipients of the Fogarty-Ellison Fellowship in Global Health and Clinical Research. This new program provides early career opportunities for U.S. and developing country graduate students in the health professions to participate in one year of mentored clinical research at an NIH-funded research center in a developing country. It pairs the U.S. students with students from the host country, creating partnerships and contributing to building a new international community of research scholars. FIC, The Ellison Medical Foundation and NIH's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities support the fellowship program jointly. The Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of Schools of Public Health provide critical support for the effort at all stages of recruitment, review and matching.

Twenty fellows from 16 U.S. medical schools and one school of public health were selected from a pool of 77 highly qualified U.S. applicants in the first annual competition. Six are pursuing dual degree programs (MPH or Ph.D.). Sixteen foreign fellows at similar points in their careers have been identified. Selection of fellows was based on academic excellence, aptitude for clinical research, career interest in global health, and personal qualities.

In commending the new fellows, the Secretary for Health and Human Services, Tommy G. Thompson, said, "I am so proud of the commitment that these young people are making, and I am delighted that my Department has played a critical role in bringing this program into existence. It is my hope and expectation that these talented young people will use this opportunity not only to gain experience in clinical research but also to build lasting professional relationships and friendships."

Dr. Sharon Hrynkow, Acting Director of the Fogarty International Center, added, "The needs for training in clinical research in the United States and developing countries are significant. We hope that hands-on experience in conducting research in a developing country, and a first hand knowledge of the conditions and challenges facing those who live in parts of the world where disease burdens are highest, will encourage these young people to pursue careers in clinical research in areas related to global health."

The 14 institutions that met stringent criteria for research training and were selected for the initial fellowship year are located in: Botswana, Brazil, Haiti, India (2), Kenya, Mali, Peru (2), South Africa (2), Thailand, Uganda, and Zambia. Additional sites will be added in the coming years.

"As we work to engage the best and brightest minds to address global health challenges facing all of us, we see clearly that U.S. minority students and other under-represented groups need to be part of the process," said John Ruffin, Ph.D, Director of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD). With that, NCMHD and FIC have agreed to partner, on a two-year pilot basis, on key initiatives of joint interest.
"I am pleased that the Fogarty-Ellison Fellowship Program is one of these initiatives."

"At a time of great international stress, programs that foster international cooperation are increasingly important," said Dr. Richard Sprott, Executive Director of The Ellison Medical Foundation. "The Foundation is pleased to contribute to the development of partnerships among U.S. students and their counterparts in developing countries. The leadership provided by the Fogarty International Center in making this important program possible exemplifies the type of response needed to overcome the current challenges to global health."

All of the students will participate in a 3-week orientation on the NIH campus this July 6-23. The fellows will participate in seminars related to biostatistics, epidemiology, global diseases including malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tropical parasites. In addition, they will learn about the structure of clinical trials, the bioethical concerns related to research in developed and developing countries, and will have seminars related to their own health and safety while working abroad.

FIC is the international component of the NIH. It promotes and supports scientific discovery internationally and mobilizes resources to reduce disparities in global health. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Press releases, fact sheets, and other FIC-related materials are available at www.fic.nih.gov.

The Ellison Medical Foundation, a non-profit corporation established and supported by Lawrence J. Ellison, funds biomedical research, training and related scientific activities, through programs on the biology of aging and on infectious diseases of global health importance.

The mission of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) is to promote minority health and to lead, coordinate, support, and assess the NIH effort to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. In this effort NCMHD will conduct and support basic, clinical, social, and behavioral research, promote research infrastructure and training, foster emerging programs, disseminate information, and reach out to minority and other health disparity communities.

Attachment: Successful U.S applicants and developing country partners (http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/jul2004/fellows.doc).

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