This application to renew our Global Infectious Disease Research Training (GIDRT) program at the University of Virginia will build upon our many lessons learned and track record working over many cycles of International Training and Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (ITREID), Actions for Building Capacity (ABC) and GIDRT Fogarty support that has so greatly strengthened our research and training collaboration with the Federal University of Cear (UFC) in Fortaleza, Brazil. This experience is the strong foundation for strengthening our collaboration with the University of Venda (UNIVEN), a model, innovative, former homeland university in Limpopo Province in the northeast of South Africa, near the borders with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. UNIVEN is clearly poised to become a world-class research, teaching and service university, much like UFC was in northeast Brazil 20 years ago. Furthermore, UNIVEN attracts graduate students from other southern African countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Like South Africa, these countries are also experiencing acute shortages of trained individuals to help seek solutions to their particular human development problems. We believe our experience and lessons learned in Brazil have begun to take root at UNIVEN. We also believe that the transfer of our GIDRT program from Brazil to South Africa provides an opportunity to firmly establish infectious disease training at a site with limited training opportunities, a large burden of diseas, and a small, but growing research infrastructure. At UNIVEN, we have, in close collaboration with Dr. Pascal Bessong, formerly a Fogarty-supported trainee who is now Chair of Microbiology at UNIVEN, developed a cutting edge research program as well as research infrastructure. We have achieved this in part through our collaborative major Malnutrition and Enteric Disease Network (MAL-ED) study. This project, funded by an award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), has supported Dr. Bessong, as he has led the establishment of a major new site for study of diarrheal illnesses and their long-term consequences. Given this success, we are now poised to take intervention science - applying our best science to testing novel approaches to disease control and improving health - to a whole new level by linking the laboratory bench to the bedside to the community and, importantly in our model, to come back from the community to the bench to elucidate novel interventions.
The interactive, multidisciplinary and growing institutional linkages between the University of Virginia (UVA) and the University of Venda (UNIVEN) include a track record of successful training in microbiology, the Water and Health in Limpopo research project and the Malnutrition and Enteric Diseases Network (MAL-ED). This critical mass of research relevant to public health in South Africa, and the surrounding region, can be potentiated by GIDRT support to address relevant health concerns, advance the development of human capital, and build sustainable institutional capacity.
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