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Meeting of the Global Alliance For Chronic Disease in Beijing, China - Travel Report to the Institute

Dr. Susan Shurin - November 1, 2010

From Oct. 14 to 17, on behalf of the NHLBI, I visited Beijing, China to attend meetings with our partners in the Global Alliance For Chronic Disease (GACD). Joining me from the NHLBI were Dr. Arun Chockalingam, Dr. Cristina Rabadan-Diehl, and FIC director Dr. Roger Glass. The GACD was formed in 2007, when former NHLBI director Dr. Elizabeth Nabel collaborated on the Grand Challenges in Chronic Disease ( see Nature 450:494-7 and Lancet 2009:373:2004-6). GACD members are public funders of biomedical research and include representatives from the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and China.

One of the goals of these meetings was to finalize a Funding Opportunity Announcement on hypertension that the NHLBI prepared earlier this year. It focuses on capacity building, training, and developing tools and approaches to allow members to compare data across the globe. This would be of great value to the NHLBI.

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins attended two of the meetings. One of his tasks, admirably executed, was to be a cheerleader and inspire GACD members to follow through on the promises made when this group got started three years ago. This included borrowing a guitar from the NCI Beijing representative and performing "I'll get by with a little help from the GACD," with apologies to John Lennon.

We had some excellent discussions with students from the Chinese American Medical Society who attended the meeting as well as several senior Chinese epidemiologists. Of particular note was their observation that most citizens get their care from traditional Chinese healers, whose level of awareness and treatment of many chronic diseases is low.

What we accomplished:

  1. The group revised a proposed Research Funding Announcement on hypertension, and the members will plan to issue this RFA in 2011 for funding in FY 2012. This was presented to the Institute's IdeaForum in spring 2010 and ranked well by our Board of External Experts; NHLBI is committing $9 million over five years to this RFA. The goal is for each GACD member to support coordinating projects, with an emphasis on implementation; to develop common tools and data standards; to engage policy-makers early in the research process; and to share results broadly.
  2. The GACD selected an organization to house a Secretariat to provide administrative and organizational support to the group. This will be housed in London.
  3. Identification of the Grand Challenges in Mental Health, similar to the Grand Challenges in Chronic Disease, is in progress, supported by NIMH. We look forward to having NIMH as a partner with FIC in the GACD.

With best regards,

Group of 14 people in two rows posing for photo
GACD Board meeting, Beijing, Oct 17, 2010
A building in the Forbidden City with courtyard of people
The Forbidden City, Beijing
Interior market with stalls of food and passersby
Open air food market, Beijing
Skewers of beetles in a display with signs: "Water beetles," "Longhorn beetles," "Centipedes"
Fresh beetles, etc., for deep frying and salting
Image of street with billboard and gate
Street scene in Beijing
Storefront with portraits of political figures
Street scene in Beijing

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