This new 5-year proposal submitted to FIC/NIH in response to Non-communicable Diseases and Disorders across the Lifespan Award (NCD-LIFESPAN) (PAR-10-257) will establish a comprehensive, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research training initiative in Global Mental Health and developmental Disorders (GMH-DD) at the Azerbaijan Medical University (AMU) in Baku that will also provide outreach to the Newly Independent States (NIS) in particular east of Baku. Such a formal research training framework is currently lacking. The program will offer graduate coursework, didactics, research methods and contents at the Boston Children's Hospital (BCH) and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) to help postdoctoral trainees launch mentored research ethics careers leading to Master's Certificate in GMH-DD (n=2/yr., 10 awards). The program will also offer medium term faculty enhancement scholarships with coursework, labs participation and networking with US investigators (n=2/yr., n=10 awards). The program will elevate GMG-DD as an integral core of NCD and provide currently missing infrastructures and mentorship to promote in the NIS region. Our successful record of running research training programs over a decade has helped us identify "nodal points" for intervention and to develop innovative ways to overcome institutional and bureaucratic barriers and to address practical challenges in developing, reviewing, conducting, and overseeing GMH-DD health research in this region. A major innovation of the research education and mentorship is the use Fogarty funded investigators in Turkey to circumvent cultural and language barriers to reach out to the NIS region. The Institute in Methods in GMH-DD Research organized annually in Baku will serve as a "regional hub" and offer scholarships to NIS applicants (n=12/yr., 60 awards) who will be sponsored to engage in 2-week long interactive research methods education with US, Turkey, and NIS faculty and participation of former trainees. The Institute will provide a forum for discussion of a range of GMH-DD related questions relevant to NCD and mhGAP and to the NIS region and will have strong support of the WHO European Office Mental Health Division to which NIS (as well as EU, Turkey and Israel) belong. The program is likely to bring exceptional value-added to the region in GMH-DD that to date has been quite impenetrable for US networks and regional influence.
This research training award will bring together the expertise of interdisciplinary Global Mental Health and Developmental Disorders (GMH-DD) faculty through a well formed partnership in the US and Turkey through the ICOHRTA phase that now will innovatively support a new collaborative framework for building sustainable research capacity at Azerbaijan Medical University in Baku establishing it as a regional hub serving the Newly Independent States (NIS) region. The program will sponsor an Institute in Research Methodology in GMH-DD bringing together international faculty, postdoctoral research fellows, faculty scholars and other shorter term NIS participants. The goal is to provide a solid foundation for evidence-based research education that meets the GMH-DD challenges within the agenda of Non-Communicable Disorders and Conditions (NCD) across the Lifespan in the NIS region.