U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

NIH: Fogarty International Center NIH: Fogarty International Center
Advancing Science for Global Health
Advancing Science for Global Health
Home > Center for Global Health Studies > Global Health Reciprocal Innovation Print

Global Health Reciprocal Innovation

large group of people bicycling in the street in Los Angeles for CicLAvia Photographed by Gaston HinostrozaCyclists during the first “Iconic Wilshire” Ciclovia. Los Angeles, CA

The Global Health Reciprocal Innovation (GHRI) project is coordinated by Fogarty's Center for Global Health Studies (CGHS) and includes participation by 13 NIH Institutes and Centers (listed below). The goal of the project is to explore ways in which the NIH could enhance the impact and spread of health technologies, methodologies and strategies researched and developed in low and middle income countries to address similar health and health related challenges in different geographic locations and contexts, especially in high income countries. It is the intention of this project to explore promising models of research funding, research methods and frameworks that could enhance the mutual benefit, adaptation, scale up and dissemination of global health innovations in diverse settings.

Through several activities, including a request for information (RFI), a scoping review, a webinar, and a workshop, we have explored case examples of methods, frameworks and approaches to innovation transfer (usually unidirectional) and innovation exchange (usually bidirectional) between LMICs and HICs. Health innovation transfer approaches from LMICs to HICs are not new and include the terms reverse innovation, frugal innovation, and global to local innovation. Health innovation exchanges that are bidirectional and strive to be mutually beneficial include the terms bi-directional learning, global learning, and reciprocal innovation. 

For the purposes of this project we have focused on finding case examples of bidirectional exchanges of global heath innovations and we are using the following definition of “reciprocal innovation” from the Indiana University Center for Global Health “Reciprocal Innovation is the bi-directional and iterative exchange of a technology, methodology, or process between at least two countries, one lower- or middle-income country and one high income country, to address a common health challenge and provide mutual benefit to both sides. Lessons learned are continually shared throughout the process to suit the needs and infrastructure of each country.” 

Utilizing the approach of reciprocal innovation, the original intervention is enhanced and its reach is extended to the mutual benefit of both parties involved in the research. Reciprocal innovation has three characteristics according to Sors et al (2022): “(1) global health partnership rooted in the values of reciprocity, mutual learning, and equity across partner institutions in HICs and LMICs, (2) a bi-directional and co-constituted approach to identifying shared health challenges across settings in long-term engagements, and (3) identification of high-quality innovations from global health partnerships for demonstration, replication, and dissemination in diverse settings.”

Recent Activities of the GHRI Project

NIH hosted a virtual workshop October 24-26, 2022, which convened scientific experts, funders, and policy makers to highlight case examples and explore models, frameworks, opportunities, and barriers for using reciprocal innovation in global health research. We discussed how to advance reciprocal innovation in future global health research. Work continues to develop publications from the workshop. 

Past Activities of the GHRI Project

  • The Global Health Reciprocal Innovation project began in 2019 with an environmental scan, which included a Request for Information (RFI) from the scientific community for examples of “reverse innovation,” frugal innovation” “reciprocal innovation “ and “global to local innovation”. We received 21 responses to the RFI. 
  •  In October 2020, harnessing projects collected from the RFI, CGHS partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) to host a webinar on Transferring HIV and Stigma Reduction Interventions from LMICs to the U.S. (the webinar recording can be found HERE). Researchers shared case examples of HIV interventions that were transferred from LMICs to the U.S. (mostly through reverse innovation), with a focus on stigma reduction interventions. Presenters described frameworks for intervention transfers and key barriers and facilitators to this type of research. 
  • In 2021-2022, in partnership with the NIH library and two fellows, Dr. Jepchirchir Kiplagat (AMPATH/Fogarty Fellow) and Dr. M.C. Sage Ishimwe, (NIH NIMHD-NIDDK Rwandan Health program fellow), CGHS conducted a scoping review of the literature describing reciprocal innovation, reverse innovation, frugal innovation and reciprocal innovation in global health research. A publication describing the scoping review is in development.

NIH Partners

The following NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices are partnering with Fogarty on the Global Health Reciprocal Innovation project:

HHS Partners



Jessica Ott
Health Scientist
Fogarty Division of International Science Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Email: jessica.ott@nih.gov

Arina Knowlton
Global Health Research and Policy Analyst
Center for Global Health Studies
Fogarty Division of International Science Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Email: arina.kadam@nih.gov

Updated January 24, 2024