Increasing the number of U.S. scientists who conduct research in Sub-Saharan Africa should be a global health priority, according to Fogarty grantee Dr. Robert Glew, of the University of New Mexico.
In an effort to encourage medical students, residents and faculty to devote part of their careers to research in Africa, Dr. Glew recently published a paper in Experimental Biology and Medicine offering advice to those considering such ventures.
He describes the driving force that led him to Nigeria 30 years ago to teach and study health problems in rural and urban areas. "The reason for choosing Nigeria was simple; I wanted to be useful."
To guide others who may consider following in his footsteps, he stresses the importance of identifying the right foreign collaborators, selecting a suitable research topic, setting realistic goals, learning the local culture and indigenous language, and securing funding.
He also identifies potential pitfalls and problems that are often overlooked--or underestimated--in the early phases of planning an international partnership. These include lukewarm institutional support at home, inflexible review boards, dominance of the program by the U.S. partner, maintaining continuity, and striking the right balance between scholarly work and humanitarian efforts.
Dr. Glew expresses the hope that U.S. students and faculty in the health professions who read the article will be stimulated and encouraged to consider how they might integrate into their curriculum or academic life visits lasting several months or more each year, during which they would teach or train others or engage in research at a teaching hospital in some African country.
Promoting Collaborations Between Biomedical Scholars in the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa. Glew, R.H. Experimental Biology and Medicine 233:277-285 (2008)
For full text of the article, visit: http://www.ebmonline.org/cgi/content/full/233/3/277