News Release

Monday, July 28, 2008

NIH Creates Global Health Program to Fight Chronic Diseases

New Threat to Developing World Addressed by Fogarty International Center’s New Strategic Plan

The Fogarty International Center, the global arm of the National Institutes of Health, today 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 announced 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 percent of all deaths worldwide are attributable to chronic diseases, and 80 per cent of them occur in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.

"The burden of chronic diseases is rising across the world, including in developing countries," said NIH Director Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni. "As we continue efforts in fighting infectious diseases we also need to focus on these new challenges."

Roger I. Glass, M.D., Ph.D., said, "The Fogarty International Center will encourage programs that prepare researchers and medical workers to address these new challenges provide training across disciplines and bridge gaps among the biological, social and behavioral sciences."

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 September 29. More information is available at

Participating with the Fogarty Center are: the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Office of Dietary Supplements.

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

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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