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Invitation to develop case examples of health research in humanitarian contexts

Applications are closed

In collaboration with partner NIH Institutes and Centers, other U.S. government agencies, academic researchers from the U.S. and abroad, nongovernmental organizations and key international organizations, the Fogarty's Center for Global Health Studies (CGHS) is leading Advancing Health Research in Humanitarian Crises, a project to share learning and strategies on conducting health research in the context of humanitarian crises globally.

Part of this project is an invitation to submit proposals to develop case examples on the challenges specific to conducting health research in the humanitarian context, along with strategies to overcome those challenges, based on lessons from the field. These case examples will be made available to the global health research community, inclusive of academic researchers and research funders, humanitarian organizations, policymakers, and other actors.

When needed, financial support up to $5,000 per case will be made available to support the development of the cases. (Further details on financial support are included below.)

Updated January 22, 2019


Conducting health research in humanitarian settings is uniquely challenging, resulting in a dearth of high-quality scientific evidence to inform governments, NGOs and humanitarian organizations. The field of global health will benefit from a collection of standardized case examples that specifically demonstrate strategies for overcoming the challenges to conducting health research in this context, spanning across disease areas and types of humanitarian crises.

The objectives of this collection of case studies are to:

  1. Highlight common challenges and share strategies for overcoming the challenges of conducting health research in humanitarian crises.
  2. Demonstrate the feasibility and importance of health research in humanitarian crises, thereby encouraging researchers and research funders to support more, high-quality health research in these contexts.
  3. Identify scientific areas of high public health significance that can best be addressed through health research in humanitarian settings


Cases will be selected to highlight specific challenges to health research in humanitarian crises, and the strategies used to address them. The term “humanitarian crisis” is broadly defined to include: (1) man-made disasters, including armed conflict, forced displacement, and refugee crises; (2) natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, droughts, etc.; and (3) major disease outbreaks (e.g. the Ebola Outbreak of 2014). For the purposes of this call, “health research in humanitarian crises” is inclusive of health research conducted in the setting of a humanitarian crisis and/or health research on a population directly affected by a humanitarian crisis (e.g. a refugee population fleeing conflict, relocated to a more stable setting). The collection of case examples will be diverse, representing different geographical locations, types of humanitarian crises, health and disease areas, and types of research. We strongly encourage submissions from LMICs but are open to all global examples of health research conducted in a humanitarian context (e.g. refugee camps in Greece, natural disasters in Puerto Rico, etc.).

Topics for the case examples should be structured to include research questions of high public health importance, multiple challenges faced during the conduct of research, and strategies used to address the challenges. Case examples should focus on unique challenges specific to research in a humanitarian setting, including, but not limited to: security, logistics, ethics, timing, community trust, funding, etc.

Case example framework

The framework for the development of this collection of cases was created by the CGHS, with direction from its Steering Committee consisting of representatives from George Washington University, the American University of Beirut, Birzeit University, University of Bamako, Dublin City University, Ohio State University, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Mental Health at NIH. The framework includes the components that are necessary to capture detailed challenges to health research in humanitarian crises and the strategies used to address them. The framework is designed to be flexible; specific components of the framework may not apply to each individual case, depending on the scope and context. The required components are to ensure consistency across cases, but we encourage flexibility and creativity in terms of the additional components, which are not essential if they undermine the flow of the story or obscure the emergence of important lessons from the field.

Case Components

Each case should include description of each of the following.

  1. Research question
    • Describe the specific health research question examined by the study and its importance to global, public health. Include the significance of the health condition(s) or disease(s) involved in the study.
  2. Humanitarian context
    • Describe the setting of the humanitarian crisis in which the research is conducted, and/or the population affected by the crisis. Include description of the geographical and sociopolitical factors that may be relevant.
  3. Research study
    • Describe the general research approach, including the methods used, why there were selected, and how the study was implemented.
  4. Challenges faced by researchers
    • Describe the specific challenges faced in conducting research and how they impacted the research process.
  5. Strategies used to address the challenges
    • Share the strategy or strategies utilized to address the challenges faced.
  6. Lessons learned
    • Share the lessons learned by the research team throughout the process. Note that we are more interested in lessons learned from the research process rather than the outcomes and findings of the study itself.

Additional, optional components, depending on the focus of the individual case.

  1. Stakeholder/community engagement, participatory approaches
  2. Partnerships or research networks
  3. Cultural adaption
  4. Research methodologies used or adapted
  5. Ethical considerations
  6. Research capacity issues or capacity building
  7. Measurement (What indicators were used, new measures developed, what was measured, validity etc.)
  8. Dissemination/translation of research

Use and Dissemination

The final collection of cases will be published in an open access, peer-reviewed journal and possibly also in other types of publications or resources (e.g. policy briefs, education tools, etc.).

Financial Support

Fogarty's CGHS will provide financial support up to $5,000 per case on an as needed basis, subject to submission of a budget and additional factors. Priority will be given to submissions from LMICs. Funding is intended to support protected time for writing cases on already complete research and is not intended to support ongoing research.

Selection Process and Criteria

By submitting this application, an applicant affirms their ability and commitment to completing a case, using the designated framework within the specified timeline. They affirm the inclusion of their case in any and all resulting deliverables, whether online or in print. Case examples should tell a compelling story and underscore the feasibility and importance of research in the humanitarian context.

Applications will be reviewed internally by CGHS to ensure diversity across different geographic locations, HIC and LMIC researchers, types of humanitarian crises, health and disease areas, and types of research. Steering committee members will then select 10-12 proposals for development, to be included in all final deliverable products.

Criteria for selection will include:

  1. Scientific and public health relevance of research question
  2. Appropriateness of research approach and design
  3. Research was conducted in the context of a humanitarian crises (as defined above)
  4. Example highlights a specific challenge(s) and the strategies used to address them
  5. All main components of the framework can be addressed
  6. Expertise of the submitting team

What to Submit

Up to one page summarizing the following:

  • An overview of the research question
  • Description of the humanitarian crises setting in which the research was conducted and/or the affected population (including geographic area and disease focus)
  • Research approach or methodologies employed
  • The specific challenge(s) to health research in humanitarian crises
  • The strategies used to address them
  • Justification: Why is this research a good fit for a case example focusing on lessons from the field?
  • Any publications or pending publications relating to the research
  • All funding sources for the research
  • Availability of the data (e.g., for OpenScience, repository submission, availability to humanitarian health research community)
  • Background and expertise of the submitting team or individual
  • Draft budget, if funding is requested

Application Deadline

The application deadline was January 21, 2019. Applications are closed.

Proposed Timeline

  • Proposals Due: January 21, 2019
  • CGHS Review: January 22, 2019
  • Steering Committee Selection: February 28, 2019
  • Draft Case Examples Due: May 2019
  • Case Example Review: June - July 2019
  • Target Publication Date: August 2019

Instructions for Submission

On or before January 21, 2019, submit your proposal by email to CGHSHumanitarianCrises@mail.nih.gov with the lead submitter’s name and the title of the proposal in the subject of the email (e.g. Einstein_Theory of Relativity).

Please include your proposal and the CV for the submitter or each team member, as attached Word or PDF documents.


Amit Mistry, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist (Contractor)
Center for Global Health Studies
Fogarty Division of International Science Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Email: amit.mistry@nih.gov

Blythe Beecroft, M.S.
Global Health Research and Policy Analyst (Contractor)
Center for Global Health Studies
Fogarty Division of International Science Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Email: blythe.beecroft@nih.gov