CWRU receives funding for post-doc training in New Guinea to fight filariasis

News Release: January 6, 2011

New funding from the National Institute of Health’s Fogarty International Center and the National Institute of Nursing Research will support three post-doctoral trainees in anthropology, epidemiology and nursing at Case Western Reserve University.

Over the next year, the trainees will undertake behavioral science research in Papua, New Guinea, to study self-management of potential drug treatments for lymphatic filariasis.

As part of the training, they will collaborate on a trial of potential drugs to destroy the lymphatic filariasis parasite that causes blockages in the lymphatic system.

James Kazura and Christopher King from the Center direct the drug study for Global Health and Disease at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. The researchers are conducting a randomized control trial of drug therapies being tested for dosage levels and combinations of drugs to see if filariasis can be eliminated.

The post-doc trainees represent three schools participating in the Global Health Framework project at Case Western Reserve University’s Center for Global Health and Disease.

Begun in 2007, the Framework is a collaboration to design interdisciplinary courses, provide mentored international opportunities, and support a certificate program in global health.

The principal investigators on the new one-year $228,000 grant are Elizabeth Madigan, professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing; Janet McGrath in the Department of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences; and Daniel Tisch in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Medicine.

The funds were made possible through federal stimulus money to jumpstart the economy and provide salaries and living abroad expenses.

Lymphatic filariasis causes a form of elephantiasis or gross enlargement of limbs and body parts, said Madigan. Afflicted individuals suffer from stigma and limited job and social opportunities.

Because this disease is not transmitted in the United States, sending trainees to places where the disease is endemic to learn from local science experts and see the disease’s impact in the broader context of the community is important, Tisch said. The disease also is prevalent Sub-Saharan Africa.

The university has been working in New Guinea since 1983 and has long-standing research projects in the country, making it an ideal setting to train post-doc students in global health issues.

“The post-doctoral students will each have unique and valuable skills from their respective disciplines to contribute to the implementation of the drug trial,” Tisch said.

“This is an unusual opportunity to fund post-docs fellows for overseas research,” Madigan said, explaining funds usually are made available to support foreign students coming into the country.

“The opportunity to work in a cross-disciplinary team to address a serious health issue in underserved populations is exciting and prepares the trainees for careers in global health in their respective disciplines,” McGrath said, noting that the post doctoral project is an important new expansion of the Global Health Framework project.

Posted by: Susan Griffith, January 6, 2011 01:00 PM | News Topics: Official Release