Learning Collaborative for Implementation Science in Global Brain Disorders

​The Learning Collaborative for Implementation Science in Global Brain Disorders seeks to move the implementation science agenda forward; and to address the gap between scientifically proven health innovations for brain disorders and the successful implementation of these innovations in the real world. The Collaborative creates a platform for communication and collaboration between a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector group of stakeholders with a focus on implementation science challenges related to neuro-health and brain disorders in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Nervous system diseases and disorders contribute about one third of the burden due only to noncommunicable diseases in LMICs. In 2005 11.67 percent of all deaths in the world were attributed to brain disorders. LMICs suffer a disproportionate burden of these diseases with 16.77 percent of deaths attributed to brain disorders. And yet while there are important, proven interventions to address some brain disorders in LMICs, their implementation and scale up is often limited by barriers in the very settings where they are most needed. Implementation science holds promise as a scientific strategy to address these barriers.

The objectives of the Learning Collaborative are to:

  • Identify key challenges and opportunities in implementation science related to global neuro-health and brain disorders
  • Facilitate better utilization of scientific evidence in programs and policies related to global brain disorders and neuro-health
  • Help to ensure that research related to global brain disorders and neuro-health is country-driven and responsive to the local context
  • Contribute to improved neuro-health in LMICs
  • Facilitate and deepen connections between brain disorders researchers and stakeholder research users
  • Encourage resolution of bottlenecks and challenges in the implementation of interventions related to brain disorders

Activities and Implementation

The collaborative is hosted by the Center for Global Health Studies (CGHS) at Fogarty, and is guided by a steering committee of subject matter experts. The Steering Committee, in collaboration with program implementers, researchers and policymakers, works together to address important implementation science challenges related to global neurohealth and brain disorders.

The initial activity of the Learning Collaborative was a one-day event in March 2015, held in collaboration with project partners. This event gathered grantees of the Global Brain Disorders Program, program implementers, policymakers, and other stakeholders in neuroscience and nervous system health, in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa. The event aimed to explore implementation challenges in global neurohealth and opportunities to move the field of implementation science forward in this context. In April of 2016, the Collaborative came together again for a one-day implementation science workshop that served as a combination implementation science training and case study presentation of on-the-ground experiences with challenges and successes in implementation and research related to global neuro-health.

The collaboration has also developed Overcoming Barriers to Implementation in Global Health: A Toolkit for Engaging Diverse Stakeholders in Implementation Science to serve as a practical resource, and to describe proven and successful models, strategies and approaches in the following categories:

  1. Participatory research
  2. Novel dissemination strategies
  3. Implementation science
  4. Policy making and evidence-based practice

Additional deliverables may include:

  • A publication outlining a "call to action" for implementation science in global neurohealth
  • Other articles relevant to the insights and progress of the Learning Collaborative

Steering Committee

  • Gretchen Birbeck, M.D., University of Rochester (Scientific Co-chair)
  • Daniel Desire Tshala-Katumbay, M.D., Ph.D., Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine (Scientific Co-chair)
  • Dallas Anderson, Ph.D., NIH / National Institute on Aging (NIA)
  • Ian Campbell, M.D., Affirm Facilitation Associates
  • Richard Idro, M.D., Ph.D., Makerere University
  • Danuta Krotoski, Ph.D., NIH / National Institute of Child and Human Development (NICHD)
  • Kathleen Michels, Ph.D., NIH / Fogarty
  • Claudia Moy, Ph.D., NIH / National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
  • Beverly Pringle, Ph.D., NIH / National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • Donald Silberberg, M.D., University of Pennsylvania
  • Rachel Sturke, Ph.D., NIH / Fogarty
  • S'boniseni Vilakazi, The Valley Trust


Rachel Sturke, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.I.A.
Deputy Director, Division of International Science Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Center for Global Health Studies
Fogarty International Center
National Institutes of Health

Partners in the Learning Collaborative include the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa (SONA), and the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO).​

Updated June 2016