Indiana University’s membership in the Northern/Pacific Global Health (NPGH) Research Training Consortium provides opportunities for IU doctoral and post-doctoral trainees in a variety of health professions to engage in research at international partners sites throughout the world and also involves IU faculty to provide research mentorship to trainees throughout the consortium.
The Global Health Fellowship Program is a 12-month clinical research training sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center (FIC) in partnership with several NIH Institutes and Offices. Fellows represent academic institutions from the US as well as partners in low and middle-income countries. This year’s cohort of 22 post-doctoral fellows and student scholars includes 14 trainees from low and middle-income countries and eight from US institutions.
Two Indiana University faculty members are mentoring trainees from the University of Washington in the 2020-21 cohort of Fogarty Fellows as they conduct research on malaria and HIV. Although the coronavirus pandemic has upset the planned travel and in-person collaboration, the research fellowships continues.
Chandy John, MD, MS, director of the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and Global Health at Indiana University School of Medicine, said that the NPGH Fogarty Fellowship is unique in several ways including “the way we prepare our trainees; our curriculum for trainees during the fellowship, which includes many opportunities to work with and learn from other fellows; and our ongoing commitment to mentorship and support after the fellowship.”
John is a mentor to Maithri Sarangam, MD, as she conducts research at Makerere University in Uganda. Sarangam’s research is focused on children with severe malaria.
Kara Wools-Kaloustian, MD, MPH, director of research for the IU Center for Global Health, serves as a mentor to Sigrid Collier, MD, MPH, a dermatologist and internal medicine physician. Wools-Kaloustian has conducted research within the AMPATH partnership for nearly three decades and leads the East Africa portion of the International Epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA) in which Collier’s research is hosted.
“Mentorship is key to the continuity of science – each scientific generation builds on the foundation of the previous generation – mentorship ensures this continuum,” said Wools-Kaloustian.
Collier had planned to travel to Moi University and the AMPATH partnership in Kenya to conduct research about connecting people with Kaposi Sarcoma (KS) to care. KS is a skin cancer linked to HIV. She is continuing her research remotely.
Sarangam’s initial project required in-person interaction and evaluations with study participants. With John’s assistance she was able to shift focus in order to work remotely. “During these times when there is so much uncertainty for many people, the program has been very supportive and flexible. It was wonderful that they were still able to have the fellowship this year, and have been trying to find ways to help everyone have a great experience,” said Sarangam.
The Fogarty International Center is dedicated to advancing the mission of the NIH by supporting and facilitating global health research conducted by U.S. and international investigators, building partnerships between health research institutions in the U.S. and abroad, and training the next generation of scientists to address global health needs.
The NPGH Research Fellows Training Consortium is a partnership between IU and the Universities of Washington, Hawaii, Michigan and Minnesota; with international partnerships in Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda, Ghana, Liberia, Peru, Thailand, Nepal and India. These institutions have a strong collaborative history and existing NIH training grant programs.
“With NPGH Fogarty fellows from both the US and from low- and middle-income countries, the training is done in partnership, and is of benefit to both groups. It is a model of equitable partnership and training,” added Dr. John.
Collier lauded the training that the fellowship provides. “The core Fogarty program has a really great curriculum that focuses on quantitative and qualitative methodology and gives a really good overview,” she said. “Then to build upon that there is a weekly curriculum as part of NPGH that focuses on building skills and is tailored to the group. For example, this group has formed a subset that is interested in doing qualitative methods by Zoom and using other technology. Many of us have had to convert in-person focus groups and are figuring out the ethics, logistics and consent process,” she continued.
IU’s long-term partnership with AMPATH in Kenya has been helpful to Collier, especially as she navigates her research from the U.S. “The power you have with AMPATH is that is has been such a long-term, successful collaboration. It makes it easier to be paired with people who are already used to collaborating this way on research,” she added.
Both Collier and Sarangam learned about this fellowship opportunity from colleagues who had completed the program and hope to use their experience to pursue careers working with people in resource-limited settings either domestically or internationally. “My goal is to have a career that combines clinical practice and research,” said Sarangam. “I knew I needed to get more research experience to reach that goal. As I was searching for programs that would allow me to get great research training in an international setting, it seemed that the Fogarty program fit that description perfectly.”
IU School of Medicine student Grant Callen was a Fogarty Scholar during the past year and conducted research at the AMPATH partnership in Kenya related to adolescent HIV care. Callen said that the NPGH Fogarty Global Health Fellowship was designed with young, diverse, early-career researchers in mind. “The focus on supporting trainees at global institutions ensures that access to this program and careers in global health research are more equitable and representative of the populations and places in which we live and work,” Callen said. “I am grateful to have been trained alongside colleagues from across the globe whose work informs policy and practices aimed at improving health outcomes for everyone, everywhere.”
Applications for the 2021-22 Fogarty Fellowship are due November 2, 2020
Grant Callen’s 3 Lessons from his Fogarty Scholar experience:
- Be flexible - with expectations, with timelines, and with your goals. Things will often not go according to plan, but that is where you learn how to both predict and respond to challenges in the future.
- Build a team you can rely on. Seek out people who are excited about the work that you are doing and find them early; their buy-in and insight will make your project better, but it also builds long-standing partnerships between colleagues and friends.
- Learn how to share your passions with other people. There will be so many of your faculty, friends, and family who may not understand what you do or your motivation for doing it. Helping them to see how your work translates in settings with which they are familiar is essential to building and maintaining both personal and professional support systems.