There is an acute shortage of post-doctoral and junior faculty research capacity in India, with no postdoctoral programs in epidemiology and prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The proposed interdisciplinary training program will focus on the epidemiology and prevention of NCD across the life-course, in cross-connecting subject areas (child health;nutrition and lifestyle, environmental health, obesity and diabetes, stroke and other vascular diseases) and population science disciplines (epidemiology and biostatistics;clinical trials;translation research, social sciences, and economics). This effort will leverage an established network of research collaborations involving partners in India and the US (Ovations Center for Excellence in Chronic Diseases, New Delhi). The program will have two components: (1) Short-term training in year 1: Eight junior faculty researchers will receive four months of training at Emory to acquire specific and focused mentoring and research skills. (2) Long-term training in years 2-5: A total of ten post-doctoral fellows (one batch of five in years 2-3 and one batch in years 4-5) will receive 24 months of training (four months at Emory in the first year, six weeks at Emory in the second year, and the remaining 18.5 months in India). Training components include mentored research, coursework, professional development (ethics, grants-writing, communication skills), and an emphasis on context-specific innovation in health programs and research. Collaboration with Emory will compliment India-based mentoring and training, and permit transfer of skills and expertise in specific areas. The program will build a critical mass of NCD researchers and incorporate them within integrated NCD research programs in India. An important innovation of our program is the emphasis on retaining talented young scientists in India, enabling them to develop world-class research skills in an Indian-based training program, facilitating international collaborations, and providing end-of-training grants to promote in-country research projects. We expect the program to have a cascade effect, as each of the 18 trainees will serve as a resource upon completion of the program, disseminating knowledge and skills to other researchers at in- country institutions.
NCDs are a large, growing, and costly problem for India. Over the next decade, the country is projected to lose $237 billion in national income due to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and to account for 40-60% of the global CVD burden. Despite these projections, research infrastructure is lacking, and building research capacity at post-doctoral and junior faculty levels is clearly identified as a priority by the Government of India and health organizations.
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