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Advancing Science for Global Health
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Advancing Health Research in Humanitarian Crises

Hundreds of millions of people around the world are affected by humanitarian crises, including natural disasters, armed conflict, forced displacement, and major disease outbreaks. The frequency, intensity, and cost of these crises has steadily increased over the past several decades, trends that are expected to continue with ongoing threats from climate change and emerging pandemics. These crises have direct and indirect impacts on health, disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, especially in low- and middle-income countries. However, conducting health research in these settings is very difficult and there is a limited amount of scientific evidence that can inform how governments, nongovernmental organizations and other humanitarian organizations respond to them.

The Fogarty Center for Global Health Studies (CGHS) leads a project exploring the role of global health research in the context of humanitarian crises. The goals of the project are to: (1) catalyze timely, high-quality, ethical and actionable research in crisis settings; and (2) strengthen the capacity of scientists, especially from LMICs, to conduct health research in crisis settings. Key partners in this activity include NIH Institutes and Centers, other U.S. government agencies, academic researchers from the U.S. and abroad, nongovernmental organizations and international organizations involved in humanitarian response. This field of research can also benefit the U.S. as lessons learned from global humanitarian crises can improve the government's ability to respond to disasters in the U.S.

Current Activities

  • Global Forum on Humanitarian Health Research: In partnership with Canada's International Development Research Centre, the U.K. Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust, Fogarty hosted a virtual Global Forum on Humanitarian Health Research on November 8–18, 2021. The virtual meeting brought researchers and humanitarian organizations (including NGOs, local policymakers, and international agencies) together to share experiences and promote collaboration. The 2021 meeting report is available to read and CGHS is currently exploring a future iteration of GFH2R.

Past Activities

humanitarian-image.jpg Photo credit: @UNICEF/UN029108/Phelps

Resources from Partners

  • NIH Disaster Research Response Program (DR2): The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Library of Medicine lead the DR2 program, which aims to create a disaster research system consisting of coordinated environmental health disaster research data collection tools and a network of trained research responders.
  • Human Mobility and HIV Research Program: The National Institute of Mental Health leads this program, which supports research on the impact of human mobility on prevention and treatment outcomes in individuals at risk or living with HIV. “Mobility" is defined to include forced displacement, trafficking, refugees, and internal displacement.
  • Global Mental Health and Human Mobility Research Program: Also led by the National Institute of Mental Health, this program supports research on the increasing mental health challenges faced by mobile populations at all stages of migration, including forced displacement, fleeing war and conflict, extreme weather, and other types of mobility.
  • Elrha: A UK-based charity that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation. Elrha's Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises program funds research studies that seek to address public health issues by gathering evidence with the potential to contribute to improved public health outcomes in humanitarian contexts
  • Evidence Aid: A UK-based non-profit organization that aims to save lives and livelihoods in disasters by providing decision-makers with the best available evidence and by championing its use.
  • Nuffield Council on Bioethics: A UK-based organization that examines and reports on ethical issues in biology and medicine. Together with the Global Health Network they have developed an e-learning course covering the core ethical issues that arise when conducting research in global health emergencies.

Scientific Co-Chairs

  • Iman Nuwayhid, American University of Beirut
  • Brandon Kohrt, George Washington University


Amit Mistry, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
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

Updated September 16, 2022