Howard University, partnering with scientists at Morehouse School of Medicine, and Research Scientists and Physicians in top research laboratories in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Nigeria will continue and initiate programs that offer practical and innovative international research training opportunities at foreign sites to undergraduate, medical, graduate and behavioral sciences students from underrepresented minority groups. Based on a record of success in research and training, students and mentors will return to the Pathobiology Institute, Addis Ababa University, University of Benin, University of Ghana-Korle bu Teaching Hospital where they will be engaged in research on water and blood-borne diseases and the study of vectors transmitting these diseases. Specifically investigations will be conducted on schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis and the utilization of natural products extracts in the prevention of bilharziasis, human schistosomiasis, and malaria. Further isolation, characterization and formulation of natural product extracts will be analyzed by GCMS, MALD-TOFF, chemical analysis, and effects on cell functions by flow cytometry, immunocytochemistry and microscopy in laboratories at foreign sites and at Howard University by collaboration. Infectious diseases studies will be further enhanced through collaboration at new sites including the Center for Leishmaniasis Research, and Gondar University. Research and training will continue at the Universities of Ghana and Benin, and at new sites where the emphasis will be on malaria, sickle cell anemia and hemoglobinopathies, and natural products medicine. A new site at the University of Ghana Medical School, Diabetes Clinic/National Diabetes Management and Research Centre, will provide training opportunities in pharmacogenomics research designed for improved patient care in the emergent era of personalized/precision medicine. The Universities of Ghana and Benin sites will employ bio-informatics, functional genomics, and proteomics in human models to study the role of immunomodulators and natural products extracts, apoptosis, and signaling factors in proposed human genome studies. In addition, water-borne, blood-borne, and air- (dust) borne diseases originating from the Sahara that affect populations in sub-Sahara Africa, and the Caribbean will be investigated. Each year for five years, 12 MHIRT Trainees recruited from U.S. universities and their U.S. and Foreign Mentors will spend 10 weeks working at foreign sites in Africa, and return to the U.S. disseminating research findings at national meetings, symposia and workshops.
There is increasing evidence of the seriousness of infectious diseases (parasitic and pathogenic) due to various factors such as HIV infection, water resources development, intense population movements, ever-increasing population and resulting poor nutrition that have aggravated health problems of developing countries. There is increased risk of worldwide spread of these diseases due to lack of environmental sanitation, unsafe human waste disposal, low socioeconomic status, poor personal hygiene and cultural practices. The research agenda of the Howard MHIRT is biomedical research on major infectious diseases that is geared towards contributing to the alleviation of health disparities of these countries.