ICHAD at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis recently received a $5 million grant through the highly competitive Launching Future Leaders in Global Health (LAUNCH) global research training grant, supported by the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes for Health (NIH). Awarded only every five years, the purpose of Fogarty’s flagship LAUNCH research training program is to “foster the next generation of global health scientists by providing trainees, early in their careers, a one-year mentored research training experience in global health at established biomedical and behavioral research institutions and project sites in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs).” The program also aims at strengthening and expanding scientific collaborations between LMIC research institutions and project sites and U.S. partners.
LAUNCH is led by principal investigators Professor Fred Ssewamala and Vice Provost Mary McKay in collaboration with colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine and the Brown School. The research training program entitled Addressing the Research Capacity Gap in Global Child and Adolescent Health Disparities Utilizing Implementation and Data Sciences among Vulnerable Populations in Resource-limited Settings (ACHIEVE) is a consortium of 10 partner institutions, including Boston College, New York University, University of Illinois-Chicago, Makerere University, University of Ghana, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Makeni, University of Nairobi, and University of Rwanda.
ACHIEVE aims to increase dissemination and implementation (D&I) and data science research capacity among the next generation of global health investigators in order to address global health disparities affecting children, adolescents, and their adult caregivers. The program is designed for Ph.D. students, medical doctors (MDs), and post-doctoral (Ph.D.) trainees from diverse backgrounds in the US, as well as trainees (post-professional degree graduates) from six countries in sub-Saharan Africa—Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Uganda. ACHIEVE also collaborates with other sites in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe that share similar health challenges and disease burdens to further connect, engage, and advance health research across the world.
ACHIEVE trainees will spend one year at a research site in one of the partner countries. Over the course of the 5-year program, ACHIEVE plans to provide research training to approximately 50 trainees. Dr. Ssewamala, William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor and founding director of the International Center for Child Health and Development (ICHAD) at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, believes that ACHIEVE will build on the several NIH-funded training programs and research projects based in Sub-Saharan Africa, the United States, and other countries that are housed within ICHAD. “ACHIEVE will capitalize on some of our enduring partnerships while fostering new ones with investigators and institutions committed to building the research capacity of early career researchers and improving health outcomes among children and families in low-resource communities,” he said.
Dr. McKay, the vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives at Washington University in St. Louis, has been working to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Sub-Saharan Africa for over 20 years. “This large-scale interdisciplinary consortium training grant will harness the expertise and resources of ten leading institutions in the United States and across the African continent to catalyze learning and collaboration and to build a new generation of global health scientists devoted to understanding and improving health disparities among children, adolescents, and their caregivers. ACHIEVE is an important new training program that aligns with the guiding principles of our strategic plan at Washington University in St. Louis. We are thrilled to be taking the lead on this tremendous opportunity.”
The first cohort of ten research trainees from the United States and across Africa is currently being recruited and the program will start in the summer of 2022.