Yale in Africa: Yale Partnerships for Global Health

Yale in Africa: Yale Partnerships for Global Health



Infectious diseases are so
closely tied to rural poverty that the answers to
solving these challenges are really going to come from
a combination of bringing new knowledge into settings
where human behavior plays a significant role. I trained in Ghana,
and I worked there as a medical doctor for several
years before coming to Yale. So in a way, I had seen
their problems firsthand, especially with the
health care system. I've spent more than 20 years
running my laboratory focused on diseases that really don't
occur in the United States anymore. And my colleague
Dr. Paintsil, whose work focuses on
pediatric HIV, was also feeling as though it was time
to move from the laboratory into epidemiology research. Mike had been looking
forward to an opportunity to really do work in Africa. So we just bonded on
that shared vision of one day doing work in Ghana. It became obvious
that if we really wanted to know whether the
work that we were doing in the laboratory had direct
relevance to human disease, we had to identify a way
to get into the field. We spoke with some
collaborators at the University of Ghana Medical School and
the University of Ghana itself. And that is how the
partnership started. And so it was in 2006 that
we made our first visit to the University
of Ghana in Accra and were able to
make connections to people who were
interested in developing international collaboration. So I was intrigued
by the system at Yale that physicians were scientists. In most African countries,
doctors see patients. They don't do science. We realized that there
was a capacity gap and that we would need to really
grow the research capacity. Our program in West Africa
has been actively training young scientists interested
in global health research, and even clinical work,
for the past 11 years. The trainees that
we select are people who have promise and
potential to make a difference in their countries. We've now had about 40
trainees from Ghana. And about 95% of them
are back home in Ghana doing research that they
started off from here. And while here, they're able
to study under the guidance of Yale faculty. They're able to take
summer courses that are offered through
the University and use this experience
to hopefully inspire them to pursue a career
in biomedical research. Within two years, other
investors have heard of us. We got a call from King Saud
University in Saudi Arabia. They wanted to be
part of our group. And then we also
connected with University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. We were able to share
some of the work we were doing with Ghana. The way we set it
up was actually just building a network
of premier investors in the world to help
build research capacity and enhance sort of
international understanding. It's amazing when you bring
these trainees to Yale here over the summer. And they interact
with Yale students, Yale post-doctoral
fellows, Yale faculty. It makes them see that,
oh, yes, we can do this. That we are about the same. We share the same
humanity and knowledge. And then they quickly realize
that it is just the resources that they don't have. And they go home very excited. I think it's
absolutely essential that we be working
together with investigators from these endemic
parts of the world so that we can really make
sure that we're addressing the right questions
and that we're using all of the available
knowledge to make progress.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *