FYI from the NHLBI Index

September 2009: Vol. 10, Issue 2
Feature Articles

NHLBI Shares in Global Health Initiative

NHLBI Shares in Global Health Initiative

The NHLBI, in conjunction with Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group’s Chronic Disease Initiative (CDI), will establish the “UnitedHealth and NHLBI Collaborating Centers of Excellence” (COEs) network to fund research and training centers for prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in developing countries.

“Scientific discovery knows no boundaries – and neither do chronic diseases, which are increasingly affecting the young and the elderly, the rich and the poor, and every ethnic group in every nation,” said Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, Director, NHLBI.

The NHLBI is awarding 10 contracts totaling more than $34 million in this effort. The Institute and UnitedHealth Group’s CDI are jointly funding six centers in Bangladesh, China, Guatemala, India (Bangalore and New Delhi), and South Africa. Additionally, the NHLBI is providing funding for three more centers in Argentina, Kenya, and Peru, while the UnitedHealth CDI is funding two centers located at the U.S.-Mexico border and in Tunisia. The NHLBI will also be awarding a six-year contract to Westat of Rockville, MD, to serve as the administrative coordinating center for the NHLBI COEs.

Each COE research institution in a low- or middle-income developing country is being paired with at least one partner academic institution in a developed country to enhance research and training opportunities. Partner institutions include Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA; Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD; Duke Global Health Institute and Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA; Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Emory University, Atlanta, GA; and Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

The centers will conduct research tailored to their local or regional needs to reduce the burden of chronic diseases, including heart disease, heart failure, stroke, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The World Health Organization estimates that these chronic diseases account for more than half of deaths worldwide, of which 80 percent occur in low- and middle-income countries. Furthermore, the WHO projects that without action, deaths due to chronic diseases will increase substantially. With action, however, 36 million premature deaths worldwide could be averted by 2015, nearly half in people under 70 years of age.

The COEs are also expected to train and mentor emerging scientists, physicians and other health professionals, and/or community health workers in collaboration with their partner institutions.

For more information about the UnitedHealth and NHLBI Collaborating Centers of Excellence, as well as details about other NHLBI global health efforts, please visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/globalhealth/.

Modified 9/3/09
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