Collins champions building research capacity

April 2010 | Volume 9, Issue 2

Photo: Collins speaks into a microphone at a podium
Photo by Terry Hill
Courtesy of National Press Club

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins
recently stressed the
importance of building
capacity, especially in sub-
Saharan Africa.

NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins recently stressed the importance of building capacity in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where the NIH funds research, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. At a speech at the National Press Club he said, "We should not just provide tools and hand them over."

He believes that global health research has more potential now than it's ever had in all of history, saying, "We've learned a lot about the pathogens that cause diseases in low-income countries and we have a chance to develop new strategies, new drugs, new vaccines and new diagnostics."

Funding can't all go to HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, he warned, but dollars and effort must extend to neglected tropical diseases and non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension, the fastest growing causes of morbidity and mortality in the developing world. "We've done relatively little to prepare for that," he said.

NIH invests approximately $600 million a year in global health projects and Collins would like to see that figure increase. As a country with resources, he says, the U.S. has a responsibility to reach out with research dollars to improve people's lives around the world. "This type of outreach is a good form of diplomacy - soft power or smart power," he concluded.

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