Responding to the Framework Programs for Global Health Innovation, this proposal builds upon an established US-Mongolia multidisciplinary partnership to address zoonotic disease burdens in Mongolia. In recent decades, Mongolia has experienced major economic and environmental changes, and suffered many large epidemics of zoonotic diseases. The long term goal of this submission is to develop a global health training program that elicits innovative, multidisciplinary team problem-solving solutions to develop products, alter disease processes, and guide policies in controlling zoonotic diseases in low- or middle- income countries. In this effort, we will employ One Health cross-disciplinary training and foster collaborations in public, veterinary, and environmental health sectors for one American and two Mongolian postdoctoral trainees per year (2-yr training period). These professionals will comprise a 3-person 'One Health' team that represents each of the three health sectors. Over the 5-yr period 4 such teams (12 postdoctoral fellows) will be engaged in zoonotic disease problem solving. In Phase I of the 2-yr period, teams will convene at the University of Florida (UF) for 2 months of training. They will receive 9 credit hours of One Health didactic training (Certificate in One Health) as well as training in ethical conduct of human and animal research. While in Florida, the postdoctoral teams will meet each week with a six- member Internal Advisory Committee (IAC, 4 US and 3 Mongolian members) who will pose zoonotic disease problems and guide them in engaging diverse expert groups at UF in developing a pilot research project and budget. While in Florida, the postdoctoral team will pitch their zoonotic disease problems and their ideas for projects to various professional groups at UF (e.g. animal science, food safety, environmental engineers, ecologists, geographers, as well as emerging disease, public health, and veterinary health professionals) with a goal of identifying innovative solutions to the problem and identifying UF and later Mongolian research mentors. During the last week of Phase I training, the postdoctoral team will present their project to the IAC for final approval and research fund release. The postdoctoral team will then travel to Mongolia and set up a research headquarters in the most appropriate Mongolian government collaborating institution, and move forward with pilot study execution. While the postdoctoral team will have at least weekly contact with their mentors and monthly contact with the IAC, this program will emphasize independent team problem solving by the postdoctoral fellows. Mongolia will greatly benefit from the implementation of a One Health research framework for global health innovation. Since moving to a market economy in 1992, Mongolia has undergone rapid change with increases in mining operations and animal production of sheep, goats, and cattle. Large segments of the normally nomadic pastoral populations have begun migrating to urban areas and introducing previously unconnected human and animal populations to new environmental terrains. For complex reasons, both humans and animals have suffered from increased zoonotic diseases, including brucellosis, anthrax, zoonotic influenza, rabies, and rickettsia diseases. Zoonotic diseases are both economic and health threats, as a large portion of the country's economy continue to rely upon animal production. Yet due to limited resources, Mongolia's health professionals have limited research and diagnostic capacity. There is a tremendous need for infrastructure development in the public, veterinary, and environmental health sectors, improved diagnostic laboratory facilities, stronger surveillance networks, and advanced One Health education to address complex zoonotic disease prevention and control strategies. This program will strengthen institutional capacity for innovative zoonotic disease training and research at both the University of Florida and at the multiple collaborating health institutions in Mongolia. It will also serve as a model program for similar interventions in other LMIC countries with zoonotic disease burdens.
The specific aims of this project are to 1) identify the risks and conditions associated with zoonotic disease morbidity in Mongolia; 2) by employing modern technologies available at a large multidisciplinary US university and following a cross-disciplinary team approach, develop innovative One Health strategies to solve zoonotic disease problems in Mongolia; 3) following a train-the-trainer approach, transfer novel prevention and control techniques to regional public, animal, and environmental health professionals throughout Mongolia; and 4) translate scientific findings into prevention practices or products that will help to reduce the burden of zoonotic diseases among pastoral people worldwide.
This training program addresses an immediate need in Mongolia for structured research training to effectively control zoonotic infections. It is innovatve in that it will tap into a major US university's technical resources for developing innovative technologies, products, and policies and training to assist professionals in a resource-poor country. It will also develop lasting, multidisciplinary, collaborative relationships between professionals from multiple University of Florida Colleges and Institutes, and multiple national institutions in Mongolia. This network of training and collaboration will benefit both US and Mongolian postdoctoral trainees and will provide a basis for future research collaborations.
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