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Home > Global Health Matters Nov/Dec 2022 > Let’s not forget our pandemic achievements as we prepare for a new year Print

Let’s not forget our pandemic achievements as we prepare for a new year

November / December 2022 | Volume 21 Number 6

It’s not yet time to declare victory over COVID-19, even if most nations have learned to live side-by-side with the pandemic. Still, events over the past two years reveal how global health impacts individual well-being and national security.  As you know, the Fogarty International Center helps each of the other institutes at NIH become engaged with global health research. For more than 50 years, Fogarty has been building partnerships between institutions in the U.S. and abroad, while training the next generation of scientists focused on universal health needs. These collaborative ventures include investigations of the dual burden of infectious and noncommunicable diseases, while encompassing data science, economics, genetics, climate change science, and many other disciplines.

Headshot of Fogarty Director Dr. Roger I. Glass Read recent opinion pieces from Fogarty Director Dr. Roger I. Glass.

Substantial contributions made by Fogarty’s former trainees

Throughout the pandemic, researchers trained by our programs have made scientific discoveries that have contributed to international security. Take Dr. Jessica Manning, a former Fogarty fellow who now conducts malaria research in Phnom Penh. Her team at the Ministry of Health sequenced the viral strain infecting the first Cambodian COVID-19 patient and documented early spread of pandemic disease outside of China.

Similarly, Dr. Christian Happi, director of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, sequenced the first SARS-CoV-2 genome in Africa by adapting sequencing and analytical pipelines he’d created back when he was a Fogarty grantee studying Ebola. In Botswana, Dr. Sikhulile Moyo leveraged the skills he’d acquired while supported by a Fogarty HIV research training grant with Max Essex at Harvard School of Public Health to track COVID-19 mutations for his country’s Ministry of Health. Last November, he alerted the world of a new omicron variant, which within six weeks became the dominant global strain, challenging the ability of COVID vaccines to control its spread. In the Dominican Republic, Dr. William Duke, a national commission member, used what he’d learned as a Fogarty trainee to help create a COVID-19 intervention plan to prevent and control the disease. 

An enduring legacy

As we prepare to begin 2023, I want to share additional news about Fogarty’s Global Brain and Nervous System Disorders Research across the Lifespan program. In 2023, this “brainchild” of Dr. Kathy Michels, a Fogarty veteran who retired earlier this year, will be 20 years old!  The program’s exploratory and developmental research grants help investigators build research capacity, research collaborations, and research networks within institutions, countries, and regions.

Global Brain studies address a range of conditions. I’d like to bring two unique projects, both targeting fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, to your attention. Psychologist Tatiana Balachova of the University of Oklahoma has designed an intervention for women in Russia, while Drs. Sandra and Joseph Jacobson, a research team from Wayne State University, conducted the first-ever prospective longitudinal study of the syndrome in South Africa. Findings from both projects are ripe for translation within an American context.

Other examples of Global Brain program investigations with broad implications in our own country include a psychobiological study of early psychosis in China; schizophrenia research capacity building in Macedonia; a planning grant to reduce the burden of chronic psychotic disorders in Tanzania; an exploration of the family consequences of Zika in Brazil; an investigation of maternal traumatic stress and child development in South Africa; a study of internet-based treatment for common mental disorders in Latin America; an exploration of the genetics of psychosis in Africa; and a study on dementia and related health and social challenges in Lebanon. 

The program has supported collaborating scientists working in Shanghai Mental Health Center in China, Macedonia Academy of Sciences and Arts, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania, the Altino Ventura Foundation in Brazil, University of Cape Town in South Africa, the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico City, Makerere University in Uganda, Addis Ababa University in Egypt, and American University of Beirut, among many other institutes.

Once again, I thank Kathy Michels for generously endowing Fogarty with a substantial legacy. Best wishes to her and to each of you in 2023.

More Information

Updated December 14, 2022

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